What is Adderall Addiction?
Adderall is a stimulant drug commonly prescribed in the treatment of adults and children who have ADHD. It contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine and is generally safe to use with a low dose prescription. When misused, either without a prescription or in larger doses than prescribed, Adderall carries a high risk of dependence and addiction.
College students are particularly drawn to Adderall abuse because the drug increases energy and focus, and allows you to function on less sleep, making it a popular study drug. Adderall can cause weight loss and enhances physical performance, which makes the drug appealing to athletes. The drug also has aphrodisiac properties and is often used recreationally for that reason, and because it can let you party all night without sleep. Many professionals in academia and the corporate world abuse Adderall for the increased energy and focus that allows them to achieve more on less rest—at least in the short term.
Risks of Adderall Addiction
Over 16 million Adderall prescriptions were written in 2012, which is more than triple the amount prescribed four years prior in America. Often labeled a “study drug” students are two times more likely to abuse the drug than their peers outside of school.
Adderall carries the risk of overdose when used without a prescription in high doses. It reacts similarly to other stimulants like cocaine within the body. Psychiatric problems are also possible when this drug is abused. Such dangers may include:
- Depression which could lead to suicidal thoughts or tendencies
- Mania which can cause a heightened sense of happiness followed by extreme depression or fear
- Delusions and paranoia
- Aggressiveness or hostility towards others, including loved ones
- Hallucinations that are both auditory and visual
Side Effects of Adderall Addiction
Although Adderall is unlikely to be addictive at the dosage prescribed to treat ADHD or narcolepsy, long-term, or persistent use of Adderall in any manner other than which it is prescribed or without a prescription can lead to dangerous consequences.
The side effects of Adderall abuse can vary widely between users, causing a range of symptoms, some of which are contradictory. For example, Adderall is capable of causing both high blood pressure and low blood pressure, depending on the individual. In some ways, this unpredictability can make the drug even more dangerous to take without a prescription, since users cannot know what they’re getting into ahead of time. Adderall abuse can also lead to serious heart problems such as high blood pressure or heart attack, and rhabdomyolysis, a condition which causes the rapid breakdown of muscle tissue.
Signs of Adderall Addiction
Initially, Adderall abuse may be overlooked or mistaken as some other problem. Users often show signs of having trouble staying still, they may act hyper or fidgety, and they will commonly stay up for long period. This drug is widely abused on college campuses and is known by many as a “study drug” because it’s believed by students that the medication will help them to stay awake to cram for exams.
Early signs of Adderall abuse may include:
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Weight changes – primarily weight loss
- Insomnia or problems sleeping
- Mood swings
- Muscle pain
Long-term Adderall abuse can lead to addiction which will require treatment. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be addicted to Adderall, consider the following:
- Do you crave Adderall when you don’t have it?
- Do you feel like life is worthless or useless without Adderall?
- Have you ever been arrested or suffered serious consequences as a result of Adderall abuse but you continue to wish you had the drug?
- Has Adderall abuse interrupted your ability to perform at work, home or school?
- Are you interested in using Adderall despite all of the consequences you have already suffered?
- Do you get angry or upset when someone discusses a possible problem with your Adderall use?
- Do you need to use more Adderall to get the same effect?
Answering yes to any of the above questions could mean that you are addicted to Adderall and should consider treatment.
What to do if Someone You Love is Abusing Adderall
Adderall, especially when taken in high doses, can cause an overdose to occur. If you suspect that someone you love may be abusing Adderall, that is a reason for serious concern, but if you notice them having the following symptoms after taking Adderall, call 911 immediately, as an allergic reaction, serious side effects, or fatal overdose may occur:
- Rapid or pounding heartbeat
- Shortness of breath or extreme anxiety
- Inability to feel lower extremities or the arms
- Verbal tics or motor tics in which repetitive motion or sound is made without cause
- Abnormal mood including mania, extreme depression or aggressiveness
If you suspect that you may be addicted to Adderall, do not detox at home alone. If someone is unable to stop using Adderall, even when they want to, it is best they seek out treatment immediately. Inpatient treatment programs are available and offer a range of helpful resources to improve chances at long-term recovery.
Treatment Options Available for Adderall Addiction
Fortunately, many treatment options are available including:
- Residential or inpatient treatment
- Outpatient treatment
- Support groups
- Behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Medical intervention
Your first step in treatment will be to detox from the drug safely. Adderall detox can take anywhere from a few days up to a few months. Often, medical intervention will be required during detox to ensure your continued safety.