Adderall is a prescription medication that can lead to addiction when taken in higher dosages. It’s important to understand what this medicine is, what it does and how to deal with Adderall addiction. Not all prescription medications are safe for everyone, and you must be aware of the potential for misuse.
1) Why Adderall is Prescribed
Adderall is a medication with the active ingredients of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These two ingredients stimulate the central nervous system and help control the chemicals in the brain that cause hyperactivity and other conditions.
Doctors prescribe the medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD as well as narcolepsy. The purpose of the medication in this instance is to help increase the person’s ability to focus and stay on task. It may also be prescribed for other conditions, such as severe depression and sleep disorders. Adderall is a Schedule II drug because it contains the potential for abuse and addiction. A person caught selling Adderall may be subject to the same penalties as with opiates and other drugs.
2) How Adderall is Abused
Taken as prescribed, Adderall still carries a risk for dependence. Because it is often given to people with ADHD, young patients are the main abusers of the drug. The medical provider will often prescribe a low dose, increasing it as needed to reach the desired results. If a patient takes more than what is prescribed, it increases the risk of addiction. Others ways Adderall may be abused include the following:
- Increasing the dosage without doctor’s approval
- Snorting the medication instead of taking it orally
- Increasing the frequency of the dosage without doctor approval
- Taking the medication for other reasons, such as to stay awake or be more alert
Imagine a college student cramming for mid-terms or finals, finishing projects which are part of the final grade. They stay up late to study only to get up early the next morning for class. As they struggle to stay awake in class, a friend offers them some Adderall to help them feel more alert. It does the trick, so the next time they need to stay up later or go to class or work on less sleep, they take another one.
It’s situations like these that lead to Adderall addiction. Because it’s a prescription medication, many people think of it as a safe alternative to street drugs. They fail to realize the possibility of addiction and what Adderall abuse can do to them.
While college students are known abusers of the drug to help them stay awake and study, other people take it for various reasons. Some use it to help with weight loss or performance in sports. Others just enjoy the Adderall high they experience.
People with eating disorders may turn to Adderall to help reduce their appetite. While they need treatment for drug addiction, they also require therapy for the eating disorder. Athletes use it to improve performance and keep them more alert. While college students use it to help them cram for tests, it is also abused by working professionals who have a hectic schedule. They may be working long hours and have a major project to complete and they look to a prescription drug to help them maintain alertness until they are finished.
3) Symptoms of Adderall Abuse and Addiction
Even taking Adderall as prescribed can result in side effects for many. However, taking more than the recommended dosage or taking it when it hasn’t been prescribed at all can result in more symptoms and an increased intensity. These symptoms include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Loss of appetite
While these symptoms may not sound severe, prolonged use or higher dosages can lead to even more serious side effects. Anyone experiencing the following symptoms after taking Adderall should see a doctor right away because they may lead to dangerous results.
- Numbness in arms or legs
- Weakness in extremities
- Hives or a rash
- Pain in the chest
- Slow speech
- Peeling skin or blisters
- Changes in vision
- Paranoia or mania
When a person continues to take a medication at high dosages and even increase the dosage or frequency, they are at a greater risk of overdosing on Adderall. If a person has overdosed on this drug, they may begin to experience panic attacks, hallucinations, vertigo, extreme confusion, abnormal cardia rhythms and even loss of consciousness or enter a comatose state.
Long-term Adderall abuse results in a substance abuse disorder. The person develops an increased tolerance, which means they need more of the drug for the same effects. They becomes dependent on the drug and the system won’t function properly without it. They develop an addiction, doing whatever it takes to obtain more of the drug regardless of the consequences.
4) Risks of Adderall Addiction
When a person continues taking a high dose of Adderall, they are at a higher risk for cardiovascular problems. The medication increases your heart rate, blood pressure and even your body temperature to levels which may be dangerous. These factors lead to a possible stroke or cardiac arrest.
The dangers of Adderall increase when the person takes the medication with alcohol or other drugs. One of the biggest issues of mixing alcohol and Adderall is the medication hides indications of intoxication, which could cause the person to continue drinking because they don’t develop the signs to warn them to stop. This can lead to alcohol poisoning or other serious consequences. Adderall is often combined with cocaine or marijuana as well. Another issue is when the person can no longer obtain Adderall, they may seek out other drugs, which could lead to another drug addiction.
5) Treating Adderall Addiction
Not everyone who takes Adderall will become addicted. If the person has been honest with their doctor about any history of drug abuse or addiction and if they follow the doctor’s orders on taking the medication, they may be able to experience the benefits of Adderall without any side effects or addiction. However, it is important to be aware of the potential for addiction to prevent it and notice the signs if it should occur.
If a person becomes addicted to Adderall, they can seek help at drug treatment centers. Some rehabilitation centers focus on prescription medications while others offer a more general practice.
It’s important not to try to stop abusing Adderall alone. A person may experience withdrawal symptoms, which include lack of energy, insomnia and depression. They may exhibit signs of extreme hunger or feeling cranky and may even have panic attacks. In some situations, the drug may be stopped gradually to reduce any symptoms.
Treating Adderall addiction after detoxification is similar to any other drug treatment. The person may receive cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy and other treatments. They may attend an inpatient or outpatient rehab center. While there, they will learn how to prevent future drug abuse and deal with issues that led to the drug addiction.
Adderall addiction is a serious issue even though it is a prescription medication. Anyone abusing the medication should seek help. Family members of Adderall users should monitor their loved one to ensure they follow doctor’s orders for use. They should encourage their loved one to get help if they suspect Adderall abuse.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction to Adderall or any other substance, please call Lighthouse Treatment Center today for help. We are happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors. You don’t have to fight addiction alone, we can help.