Adderall is often prescribed for adolescents and young adults diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD). When used correctly, it can have a therapeutic effect and manage symptoms. Unfortunately, it’s all too often abused, especially by overachieving college students studying for exams. It’s also important to know that taking this medication, even therapeutically, can have adverse side effects in the long term. Here’s what you should know about Adderall.
Treatment for ADHD
Adderall is a compound drug form from amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and it is a stimulant used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. It can make one feel better by creating bonds to dopamine and norepinephrine receptors in the brain as well as the adrenal gland epinephrine receptors. Not only can it elevate your mood, but it can create a sense of euphoria if you take too much. That is one of the qualities that can create substance abuse problems.
How Is It Abused?
Another problem with prescribing Adderall is the abuse of it to enhance focus and studying for high school and college exams or term papers. In this particular situation, people may tell themselves that the reason justifies the ends, but substance abuse is substance abuse.
In a CNN article on how “College students take ADHD drugs for better grades,” a research professor at the University of Kentucky found that as much as 30% of students at the university have illegally used stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin. Students often refer to it as a “study enhancer” or “smart drug.” Calling Adderall a smart drug is a misnomer because it doesn’t make you smarter but simply keeps you motivated and focused to continue studying.
Others use Adderall’s stimulant properties for weight loss because one of the side effects of stimulants is appetite suppression. Others use it strictly as a recreational drug and mix it with alcohol or other drugs, leading to a life-threatening situation.
Adderall and the Damage Done
Because it’s a prescription medication and it’s often misused as a study aid, many people don’t realize the long-term damaging effects of using Adderall. When you take any substance that affects your brain chemistry, it can create a situation where your brain no longer produces those chemicals without the help of that medication. In other words, if you give yourself a drug that affects neurotransmitters such as dopamine, your brain may stop producing that chemical and its pleasurable effects unless you take that medication to trigger the reaction. This is the typical physiological reaction with substance use disorders that affect your brain chemistry. It also triggers withdrawal symptoms and cravings for the drug just as it would for any kind of amphetamine street drug you could buy illegally.
What was first used as a “smart drug” that helps you study and concentrate can lead to dependency. You may find that you cannot concentrate without it and suffer insomnia, irritability, or fatigue.
The severity of the symptoms and withdrawal depend on the length of use and also the method of abuse. The method refers to popping pills instead of crushing the medication and snorting or injecting it. Because Adderall affects your brain chemistry and neurotransmitters, you may find that you start feeling depressed if you don’t get enough of the drug. One of the more unpleasant side effects of amphetamine use is aggression, and depression mixed with the aggression can lead to suicidal ideations. This is particularly true when someone attempts to withdraw from Adderall.
Here’s the worst news about Adderall. Prescription stimulants have at times created psychosis, paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and even schizophrenic symptoms. That’s certainly not the desired effect college students are looking for or anyone else for that matter.
Symptoms of Dependency From Extended Use
Here are the symptoms to watch for if you may be suffering from Adderall dependency. Because it is a stimulant, you can expect similar symptoms to any stimulant that is used long-term:
- Anxiety and irritability
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Lack of motivation
- Tachycardia or rapid heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Constipation or digestion problems
- High blood pressure
- Chronic respiratory problems
- Skin problems
- Nausea and dry mouth
- Heart attack or stroke
You can also start to experience manic episodes, much like bipolar disorder, or you could overdose and possibly die, particularly when you mix Adderall with other substances.
That doesn’t even take into account the possible personal consequences of Adderall abuse or any substance that’s abused. That college degree you studied so hard for? What if you lose that job because of an episode of aggression or mania? What if your subsequent anxiety or fatigue keeps you from performing well? They can also take a toll on your finances and your relationships.
Adderall use over an extended period–whether by prescription or misused–can have devastating physiological and psychological effects. This “study drug” can cause dependence like any other kind of stimulant. What’s more alarming is the number of students who feel that abusing this drug to enhance their concentration and focus is justified, as various studies on college campuses show that an average of 25 to 30% of students have abused this medication to study more. If you have developed a dependency on Adderall or any other stimulant, we can help you at Everlast Recovery Centers. We can help through detoxification and withdrawal, as well as rehabilitation. In addition to counseling at our Riverside, California facility, we offer alternative treatments such as art and equine therapy. We also provide aftercare services to ensure a successful recovery and avoid relapse. You can begin a new, substance-free life with our help. Please call (866) 338–6925.