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Adderall Addiction Treatment

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Adderall Addiction, Treatment, Signs & Effects

What is Adderall?

Adderall is an addictive prescription stimulant with effects similar to meth.  Although not everyone who uses Adderall will develop an addiction, people regularly taking Adderall at higher than prescribed doses are at an increased risk of becoming addicted.  This is because Adderall works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. It is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy (sleep disorder). Adderall addiction can cause rapid weight loss, seizures, hallucinations, and potentially-fatal heart problems. Recovery professionals recommend beginning the first phase of treatment in a supervised facility. This will start with undergoing medically assisted detox Adderall addiction treatment in an inpatient drug rehab.

Norepinephrine affects how the brain responds to events, particularly how it pays attention and reacts to outside stimuli.  Dopamine, the body’s “feel-good” chemical, creates a rewarding effect.  Although dopamine occurs naturally, drugs like Adderall produce unnaturally high levels.  This can cause users to come back for more. Taking psychoactive drugs like Adderall and mixing them with alcohol poses a significant risk. Not only is mixing Adderall and alcohol terrible, but it’s also deadly.

Is Adderall a party drug? Adderall can also be abused, and there are concerns about becoming a party drug. Party drugs or rave energy pills are psychoactive drugs used primarily for recreational purposes. Recreational use of Adderall can quickly progress to addiction, and quitting the drug can be hellish and often leads to Adderall withdrawal symptoms.

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Is Adderall Addictive

Adderall, a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine.  Amphetamine is a potent stimulator of the central nervous system. It is used to treat some medical conditions but is also highly addictive, with a history of abuse. It is a schedule II controlled substance because of its strong addictive potential [1]. Adderall tablets or capsules are often crushed and snorted for a more rapid “high.” Crushing and then snorting Adderall medication that has an extended-release format, like Adderall XR, bypasses the way the drug is supposed to be slowly released in set doses over a set period [2]. What happens when you snort Adderall? It sends the entire amount of the drug into the bloodstream at once.

In recent years, mixing Adderall and alcohol has become an increasingly popular trend among college students. Non-prescription Adderall use is so prevalent on college campuses that college students take dangerously high amounts of it to cram before an exam or stay up all night to write a paper. It is a common situation without severe consequences. Many people without ADHD may abuse Adderall recreationally for its stimulant-associated effects of increased euphoria and energy, which also suppresses the side effects of alcohol and can lead to alcohol poisoning [3].

Adderall Addiction
Addicted people often feel tired and mentally foggy

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Adderall Addiction Signs

When a person takes Adderall, mainly if they’re not prescribed the drug or take a higher dose than what they’re prescribed, it gives them a sense of well-being and makes them very active. After taking Adderall, individuals will often feel as if they’re confident and empowered, and they will become very chatty. If someone is talking rapidly or more than usual, this can indicate they are on Adderall.

People on Adderall may experience physical symptoms, including a headache, dry mouth, a hoarse voice, nausea, digestive problems, and diarrhea or constipation. It’s also known to reduce or eliminate the user’s appetite, which is why people use it. Moreover, a big red flag for regularly using Adderall is rapid weight loss.

Because Adderall is a stimulant, it also intrudes on sleep schedules, so the person consuming it may stay awake for days and then “crashing” and sleep for extended periods. When someone is on Adderall and then comes off the drug, they often seem lethargic and depressed. They may not be interested in doing anything, and they tend to be disassociated from the people and events around them.

While many of the signs mentioned above are simply signs of using the drug, there are also common Adderall addiction signs of someone being addicted to Adderall instead of just using it recreationally. Adderall addiction signs can include physiological and psychological dependence on the drug.

When individuals become addicted to being high on Adderall, they will begin to feel as if they require it to feel alert and productive. Conversely, when someone addicted to this drug doesn’t take it, it can make them feel foggy or tired. As Adderall addiction develops, some users smoke or snort the crushed pills for a faster effect. Usually, individuals who start to use higher than needed doses of these drugs are unaware of the negative impact of drug use on their lives. Adderall’s euphoric effects cause someone to overestimate their performance and neglect the negative response of others.

Adderall Addiction Symptoms

  • Needing larger doses to feel the drug’s effects
  • Wanting to cut down on use but not having the ability to do so
  • Taking medicine despite knowledge of the harm it’s causing
  • Not being able to finish work without Adderall
  • Spending a lot of time and money getting, using, and recovering from the drug
  • Being unable to feel alert without the drug
  • Neglecting other normal or essential activities in favor of using Adderall
  • Suffering withdrawal symptoms when not using Adderall

This is how many people eventually become addicted to Adderall and soon prioritize the drug over everything else.  Unfortunately, the withdrawal symptoms caused by Adderall addiction make it hard for users to quit on their own.  These symptoms can seem unbearable. However, getting the help of a therapist or treatment center increases the chances of successfully quitting.

adderall addiction
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that people taking Adderall didn’t perform better on cognitive function tests—they just thought they did. 

Am I Addicted to Adderall?

No one intends on becoming addicted to Adderall.  Usually, the problem increases productivity on a stressful day at work or to study for an important test.  Some people even fake attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms to get their prescription for the drug.

Adderall Addiction Effects – Physical

As Adderall addiction develops, some users snort or crush the crushed pills for a faster effect. Typically, individuals who start to use higher than needed doses of Adderall are unaware of the negative effect of drug use on their lives. Adderall’s euphoric effects may cause a person to overestimate their own performance and to neglect the negative response of others.

The following are some of the Adderall addiction signs that may be experienced right after Adderall abuse:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Peeling skin
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Chest pain
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Exhaustion
  • Weight loss
  • A decline in personal hygiene
  • Lack of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Fast-talking
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Malnutrition
  • Restlessness
  • Pounding heartbeat

Adderall Addiction Effects – Behavioral

The fact that Adderall is a prescription drug means that someone can “doctor shop” to get a high volume of it. To avoid being caught, drug abusers frequently fill their prescriptions at various pharmacies. One clear symptom of abuse is when friends and family members of the person discover prescription bottles from several doctors and pharmacies.

People who abuse Adderall will likely begin to display “drug-seeking” behaviors. These can include:

  • “Doctor shopping,” or going to several different pharmacies to try to fill Adderall prescriptions
  • Spending a significant amount of time and money to get the drug
  • Noticeably lowering their level of self-care or grooming
  • Becoming socially withdrawn or secretive
  • Avoiding life’s responsibilities
  • Manipulating, crushing, or snorting Adderall to increase or hasten its effects

Adderall Addiction Effects – Psychological

The longer a person abuses Adderall, the higher the chance of experiencing Adderall’s side effects, some of which are permanent and irreversible Neurotoxicity is a symptom of Adderall addiction. It is psychosis and schizophrenia-like symptoms of paranoid delusions and hallucinations (a persistent mental illness requiring a lifetime of treatment).

The following list includes the most significant psychological side effects from extended abuse:

  • Mania
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Aggression
  • Memory loss
  • Incomplete thoughts
  • Disorientation

Adderall Side Effects in Females

Does Adderall have a different impact on females? The dosage of Adderall given to a woman can change depending on her body weight, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines on the drug. The FDA discovered a 20–30% increase in processed amphetamine in women when doses were not based on body mass. This disparity between the sexes disappeared after weight adjustment. The two other amphetamines in Adderall, however, are unaffected by age or gender.

When Adderall is taken by women, estrogen significantly influences how well it works. The effects might be more pronounced around ovulation or at times when estrogen levels are increased, like puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. After taking Adderall at these times, women have said they feel high. This might also set off physically dependent drug use, such as with amphetamines, as well as addictive behaviors like drug cravings. Prescription drugs that create synthetic versions of chemicals that naturally occur in our systems frequently cause this to happen.

There are unique adverse effects that impact women more frequently. This is mostly caused by the various ways that women process the drug. Women, however, may face more severe adverse effects, such as:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Increased anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping and trouble staying asleep
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Decreased libido

Adderall and Pregnancy

Pregnant women should refrain from taking Adderall. Despite the lack of evidence, studies on pregnant animals show that using any kind of amphetamine while pregnant is dangerous. Methamphetamine and other illicit amphetamines can cause low birth weight, early birth, physical injury to fetuses and newborns, and withdrawal symptoms after delivery. All of these chemicals enhance the risk of neonatal death.

Side Effects of Adderall in Males

People who take Adderall may experience erectile dysfunction (ED) as a side effect. Adderall and sex drive can be interelated, Some people claim to have less interest in having sex and have trouble getting and maintaining an erection. Distress and embarrassment can result from this shift in sex drive or sexual performance. Adderall erectile dysfunction may occur likely in someone who misuses the drug. According to FDA, Adderall’s adverse effects include impotence and changes in libido.

One of the effects of Adderall is the constriction of certain blood vessels in the body, and these changes may affect the penis. Typically, once the effects of Adderall have worn away, sexual desire and performance return to what is normal for you. Is it safe to combine Adderall and Viagra? There are no prominent side effects to taking Adderall and Viagra (Sildenafil) at the same time. Therefore, if you suffer from both ADHD and erectile dysfunction, your doctor can prescribe you both. 

While some men say that Adderall negatively affects their sex life, others experience the opposite. They find it improves their sex drive and do not experience erectile dysfunction. This differs from person to person. Stimulants like Adderall are sometimes used to treat the sexual side effects that may accompany certain antidepressant medications.

adderall addiction
Women and men share many side effects when it comes to Adderall use. However, some Adderall side effects in women are essential to know, especially when considering using the medication. 

Long Term Effects of Adderall

There are Adderall addiction signs that may be visible to people, such as the sense of excitability and talkativeness the individual shows. There are also long-term effects of Adderall abuse that may happen. These can usually become even more harmful, including numbness or weakness in extremities, vision problems, chest pain, peeling or blistering skin, and mental problems such as paranoia, mania, or seizures.

Eventually, with regular use of Adderall, individuals will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms if they don’t take the medications, and ongoing use of Adderall can lead to chemical imbalances in the brain. Signs someone is experiencing withdrawal from Adderall may include irritability, lack of energy, anger, headaches, constipation, and insomnia.

As with many other substances, lifestyle indicators could point to someone being on Adderall. As people’s dependency on this drug increases, it might become their priority. What might have started as a way to excel in school or at work can lead the individual to renounce interest in these areas and display dropping performance. The abuse of Adderall can also lead to relationship crises, poor health overall, and financial and legal problems.

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Adderall Dependence Vs. Adderall Addiction

An Adderall dependence is a natural, expected physiological response to the drug.  The individual has physical support due to the interaction of the chemicals in the body (even if taken as prescribed) but not a psychological dependence where they are abusing the medication to reach a “high.”  They may require assistance from their doctor to get off the drug due to how the chemicals affect the brain; however, they are not mentally obsessing or craving Adderall.

An Adderall addiction refers to a person’s physical and psychological reliance on Adderall along with a specific set of behaviors.  These individuals are usually unable to cope when they stop taking Adderall and will go to any length to obtain more of the medication.  The use of the drug becomes the main priority of the individual because they often run out of their prescription early due to taking more than prescribed, leaving them in withdrawal from the substance, which results in going to any length to obtain more of the sense.  Obsessive thoughts about Adderall and cravings are also an indicator of addictive behavior.

Why Do People Abuse Adderall

Athletes

Athletes may abuse Adderall to counter fatigue and enhance performance during practice and in competition.  In 2012, Adderall’s abuse contributed to a record-breaking year of drug-related suspensions in the National Football League.

People with eating disorders

People struggling with eating disorders may abuse Adderall because it suppresses their appetite.  If someone with an eating disorder becomes addicted to Adderall, they will often require treatment that cares for both issues simultaneously.  In addition, Adderall abuse can cause severe health-related problems, including a potentially lethal overdose.

Can You Overdose on Adderall?

It’s important to remember that every individual’s body is different, and because of this, some individuals may overdose on a relatively small dosage of this drug. Individuals with existing cardiac complications may have a higher risk of Adderall overdose when abusing Adderall. Certain individuals are abusing Adderall on binges so that the effects continue for a longer amount of time. This often results in a person not sleeping for an extended period of time. As more and more of the drug enters a person’s system, they could be moving closer to overdose.

Once a person uses Adderall for a while, they may start to lose the euphoric feeling the substance once created. This tolerance may lead them to take more of the drug in higher doses, behaviors that can greatly increase the risk of overdose. Adderall alone is dangerous. However, many recreational drug users mix it with other drugs (polydrug use) to increase its pleasurable effects. Doing so can further increase the risk of Adderall overdose and addiction.

Adderall Overdose Symptoms

An Adderall overdose can cause coma, severe organ damage, and sudden death. As a person’s body struggles to keep up with the number of drugs consumed, toxic levels of the substance can accumulate in the body. When the body is overwhelmed in this way, major organs often suffer the brunt of this damage. During an Adderall overdose, this extreme chemical overload can cause kidney and liver failure.

The strain on the central nervous system, especially the cardiovascular system, can lead to heart attack, stroke, or hyperthermia. Hyperthermia occurs when the body’s temperature rises far above normal. This can cause coma and permanent brain damage. Even if a person recovers from an overdose, their life may be forever altered by damage to their brain. Adderall overdose may also lead to internal bleeds within the skull, a serious condition that can cause one-sided paralysis, confusion, and loss of consciousness.

Signs Of Adderall Overdose

  • Chest Pain
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Fast Breathing
  • Fast Breathing
  • Uncontrollable Shaking
  • Fainting

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Adderall Addiction Treatment Options 

Many options are available to help the person stop taking Adderall and avoid serious side effects from substance abuse. Many Adderall users respond well to residential rehab programs. If you are experiencing Adderall addiction, it’s crucial first to get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When the symptoms have been evaluated by a mental health professional, it may be determined that another form of mental condition is present and needs a particular type of treatment. 

Medically-Assisted Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated Adderall addiction withdrawal process but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can give necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.

Psychotherapy 

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term drug abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition such as depression, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.

Adderall Addiction
With therapy and support, you can break from Adderall addiction.
Sources:

[1] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5130137/
[2] FDA – https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/011522s040lbl.pdf
[3] NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants
[4] Snorting Adderall – We Level Up NJ

Sources:

[1] SAMSHA – https://search.usa.gov/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&affiliate=samhsa_main&query=Adderall&commit=Search