Adderall abuse and addiction - signs, symptoms, treatment

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Adderall is a prescription drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. However, it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. This is particularly true if you use it recreationally, in doses that are different than prescribed.

If you worry that you or a loved one has an Adderall addiction you should get advice from a mental health professional. Adderall addiction has long-term implications for physical and mental health and the sooner you get help the easier it will be to recover.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is the trade name for a mixture of two prescription stimulants, dextroamphetamine, and levoamphetamine. It is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Recreational Adderall users take it as an athletic performance enhancer or cognitive enhancer, for its euphoric effects, and to lose weight.

It works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. Dopamine acts in the brain's reward center, which is why you experience euphoria if you abuse Adderall in large doses. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter involved in the fight-or-flight response.

Adderall is often first prescribed to people when they are children or young adults as this is when ADHD is noticed as a cause of difficulties with their education. People with ADHD may struggle to focus in class or remember assignments at work.

Adderall Abuse and Addiction

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Adderall is a Schedule II drug which means that it can lead to abuse and psychological dependence. Dependence is when your brain chemistry changes in response to consistent Adderall abuse. This means that if you suddenly stop taking it you affect the new balance in the brain. Once Adderall dependence has developed you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop.

Adderall addiction is usually close behind. It is a stimulant use disorder that causes you to compulsively seek out and take Adderall, despite negative consequences such as physical, mental, behavioral, and social problems. The more you abuse Adderall the more likely you are to develop dependency and addiction.

People with ADHD or narcolepsy may be prescribed Adderall or other prescription stimulants by medical professionals. If they use it as they are told they are less likely to develop either Adderall addiction or dependence. People who engage in Adderall abuse recreationally tend to take much larger doses than a doctor would prescribe. This is why the risks are so much higher for them.

Abuse of Prescription Drugs

People are considered to be abusing Adderall if they use it in a way that is not prescribed. Adderall abuse includes taking:

  • larger or more frequent doses than prescribed

  • someone else's prescription

  • in a different way than prescribed e.g., smoking or snorting

  • illicitly bought Adderall

It can be very difficult when a loved one has an addiction. They may act differently than they used to and hurt you. It is important to remember that they are struggling with a disease and that there are factors that have led to this.

Risk Factors for Adderall Addiction

While most people who take it as prescribed will not find Adderall addictive, there are factors that make some people more likely to develop an addiction than others. These include:

  • genetics

  • environment e.g., exposure to drugs through friends or family

  • childhood neglect and other forms of childhood abuse

  • mental health problems e.g., depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder

  • previous substance abuse problems

Signs of Adderall Addiction

Signs of addiction tend to be behavioral. You may recognize them in yourself or in someone you know. Understanding what to look out for could help you to accept that you or a loved one needs help to recover from Adderall abuse.

Signs of Adderall addiction include:

  • secretiveness

  • social withdrawal

  • fixation with getting the next dose

  • loss of control over drug use

  • impulsivity such as driving under the influence

  • neglect of personal hygiene and self-care

  • going to multiple doctors for prescriptions

Adderall Effects

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Being able to recognize the signs of Adderall use and abuse could help you to nip the problem in the bud before it develops into an addiction. Abusing Adderall exposes you to a wide range of potential side effects such as the following.

  • euphoria

  • loss of sex drive

  • reduced appetite

  • weight loss due to reduced appetite

  • anxiety

  • vision difficulties

  • dry mouth

  • sleep difficulties

In high doses, Adderall can impair cognition, cause muscle breakdown, panic attacks, and induce psychosis.

Adderall Withdrawal

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When you stop taking Adderall after you have developed dependence and addiction, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. How severe these are will depend on how long and heavily you have been taking Adderall. The state of your general physical and mental health will also be a factor that affects the shape of your recovery.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Adderall withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological due to dependence being both. Some common symptoms of withdrawal are listed below.

Physical Symptoms

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Stomach cramps

  • Difficulty sleeping and fatigue

Psychological Symptoms

  • Depression and changes in mood

These symptoms tend to appear within a day or two of your last dose. They may last a few days or several weeks depending on personal factors such as weight and health as well as how long and heavily you have been taking the drug.

Adderall Overdose

Taking Adderall carries the risk of causing a potentially lethal overdose. Signs to look out for include:

  • hyperactivity

  • panic

  • hallucinations

  • fast heart rate

  • vomiting

  • stomach cramps

  • loss of consciousness

  • rapid breathing

  • tremors and seizures

If you see someone experiencing an overdose you should call 911 immediately so that they can receive medical care as quickly as possible. If they are conscious you can help by getting information such as their age, health status, medication history, how much Adderall they have taken, and whether they have mixed it with other drugs or alcohol. If they are unconscious you can put them into the recovery position so that they do not choke if they vomit.

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Adderall Addiction Treatment

As mentioned, when you stop taking Adderall you will experience withdrawal symptoms. These can be extremely unpleasant, so it is recommended that you detox in an addiction treatment center or in an outpatient program that allows you to get medical advice and care throughout the process.

In an inpatient program, you will receive 24-hour support, allowing your symptoms to be monitored and treated. This gives you the best chance of recovery as you do not have access to Adderall and you are given treatment for withdrawal symptoms so you are as comfortable as possible.

However, some people are not able to take the time to undergo inpatient treatment. This may be due to being unable to take time off work or because they have caring responsibilities. Many treatment centers will offer the option of detoxing from home. You will still go to the center each day to receive medical support, and you will usually have access to a 24-hour phone line to call if you are experiencing problems. You may also be prescribed medication to help with withdrawal symptoms.

Reach Out Today

Admitting that you have a drug abuse problem can be very challenging. There is a lot of stigma surrounding addiction so it can be hard to accept that you are struggling. It is important to remember that addiction is a disease, and it is therefore not your fault. At Vita Recovery our facilities take you to a calm place away from the noise of the city, allowing you the peace and tranquillity that you need for a successful recovery.

We offer treatment for those who have already undergone detox. Going through detox is just the start of the recovery journey. It is important to continue to receive support through therapies and to have the option to receive medication for lingering withdrawal symptoms. We offer substance abuse treatment through a partial hospitalization program as well as an intensive outpatient program.

If you are ready to get support or you would like more information about our programs, please visit our website or call us at (786) 686-1488. Give yourself the best chance of long-term sobriety at Vita Recovery.

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