In the last 10 years or so, Adderall abuse has reached an all-time high. Originally marketed as a diet pill in the 1970s, Adderall has now become a widely prescribed drug used to treat people with attention disorders. The stimulant has helped many people work more efficiently and keep their attention focused. However, the real danger lies with people who haven’t been prescribed Adderall, who then, end up abusing it, and as a result, they become dependent and addicted to it. We’ll break down Adderall and its effects on the body, and whether you have something to worry about when taking it.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a combination of two stimulants, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It’s prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, conditions in which people have difficulty concentrating and staying awake during the day respectively. At the proper dose, Adderall can help people with these conditions focus on daily tasks and decrease impulsiveness in people with attention deficit disorders. People without ADHD or narcolepsy will also feel these effects when taking Adderall.
There are two types of Adderall: Adderall and Adderall XR (extended-release). They have the same active ingredients; however, each one does different things to your body, has different dosages and different side effects. Both medications do increase the availability of neurotransmitters in your central nervous system. Whereas Adderall comes in an immediate-release tablet, though, Adderall XR is an extended-release medication, which means that it takes longer for the active ingredients to be released into your body. As a result, Adderall and Adderall XR are also prescribed differently and have different dosages.
The proper dosage of Adderall XR for adults with ADHD is 20 mg once a day in the morning; for teens aged 13 to 17, 10 mg once a day in the morning; and for children aged 6 to 12, 10 mg once a day in the morning (not exceeding 30 mg each day). For people with narcolepsy, regular Adderall will be the best choice. Adults aged 12 and older take 10 mg once a day, which is divided into two doses; children aged 6 to 12 take 5 mg once a day. The Adderall dosage for children younger than 6 will be determined by a doctor.
Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Abuse
Signs of Adderall abuse include:
- Loss of appetite
- Being overly talkative
- Taking a higher dosage than prescribed
- Taking it for reasons other than prescribed medical ones
- Social problems
- Sleeping for long periods
Symptoms of Adderall abuse include:
- Loss of sexual function
- Lack of strength
- A false sense of well being
- Suicidal thoughts
If you suspect that someone you know is abusing Adderall, watch out for all the possible signs and symptoms. Once you’re aware, you can get your loved one help before it’s too late.
How Does Adderall Affect the Body and Brain?
Adderall is a stimulant, which means that it raises levels of nervousness and physiological activity in the body. Adderall specifically targets the central nervous system and all of its functions. When Adderall is used normally, it increases the activity of several neurotransmitters in your brain, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Dopamine, which brings about feelings of happiness, is part of the brain’s reward center. Once Adderall hits your brain and increases the availability of these neurotransmitters, it makes you more alert and focused.
The more Adderall you take over time, however, the more you will need it to increase your dopamine levels. This is when you start abusing the drug. Although Adderall helps millions of people with attention disorders and narcolepsy, abusing it does severe damage to the body when it’s being used for reasons other than medical ones.
When you get help for your Adderall abuse, you can mitigate the symptoms and the damage that’s been done to your brain over time. If you don’t see this early enough, though, you will have difficulty recovering from the dangerous side effects.
Adderall Abuse Among College Students
College students are known to take Adderall as a “study aid” to help them pull all-nighters to study for an exam or concentrate on a homework assignment. Nowadays, students are under a great deal of pressure from their parents and educators to do well in school. As a result, they feel the need to perform well and earn high grades, which is where the Adderall comes in. They also take Adderall so that they can feel more comfortable at parties to meet new people, and they may feel pressured by classmates to try it. However, this can come at a cost.
Studies show that when students without ADHD take Adderall, they’re not actually getting a “brain boost.” They’re just experiencing sped-up brain activity instead of better working memory. They may think that they’re smarter when they take Adderall, but in reality, they’re just storing more information in a short amount of time.
A 2014 study showed that 20 percent of college students reported abusing prescription stimulants like Adderall. On top of that, two-thirds of young adults who have tried a prescription stimulant without a prescription are former or current college students. Most of them stopped abusing Adderall once they left school, as they didn’t need anymore. Unfortunately, someone who is truly addicted to it will rationalize their usage and will regard they’re not using it as a negative.
Is Adderall Dangerous?
If Adderall is used properly at the correct dosage, it’s not considered dangerous. However, if abused, it can be highly addictive and harm your body. People with attention disorders who need Adderall are not usually the ones who abuse it. It’s when people overdose that the risks of physical and mental damage are higher.
Side Effects of Adderall
There are multiple side effects of Adderall use and abuse that could negatively affect your body.
- Dry mouth
- Slowed speech
- Disrupted sleep patterns
If you are using Adderall through a doctor’s prescription, they can help you through any side effects you might experience. If you’re taking it without a prescription, however, you’re on your own, especially if you’re abusing it.
Like any drug, Adderall can be effective if used safely and responsibly. If Adderall is abused for a long period, the above side effects can get even worse. More long-term, serious side effects include a weakened heart, hypertension, and mood and behavior changes. You can even get a stroke or have a heart attack.
Some students may snort Adderall to feel its effects immediately, but this is incredibly dangerous. Snorting can harm your sinus and nasal cavities, and it can also put you at higher risk for overdose.
Finding Treatment for Adderall Abuse
The most popular method of treatment for people suffering from Adderall abuse involves medication and therapy. The first thing we’ll want you to do at LA Detox is going through medical detox, which will flush the Adderall from your body. This will take about 30 days, and you’ll likely go through some painful withdrawal symptoms. These will be supervised by our trained clinicians, who will watch over you 24 hours a day.
Once detox is complete, you’ll have an array of options to choose from to continue your recovery. Therapy is crucial in the recovery process, as it will help you change the way you think about Adderall and how you’ve abused it.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): This therapy that brings together behavioral and cognitive psychology focuses on problems you’re dealing with currently. CBT holds the belief that negative and unproductive thoughts lead to negative actions. With structured coaching in only a few sessions, you will learn how to channel your thoughts into helpful and productive ones.
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on how change is inevitable, and that looking at “balancing opposites,” or holding two opinions on the same level, will help improve your outlook on life.
- Family therapy: Your family has likely been affected by your Adderall abuse. Family therapy can help your loved ones understand what led you to start abusing the drug, and they can learn how to support you through your recovery.
- Psychodrama therapy: Psychodrama therapy is a relatively new kind of individual counseling that happens in a group setting. It involves role-playing, problem-solving a re-enactment. You will most likely act out a scenario that caused you to start abusing Adderall. Psychodrama will help you with your self-awareness.
Holistic therapy like yoga, art therapy, and horseback riding have also been known to help people through recovery.
Treat Your Adderall Addiction at LA Detox
Our staff at LA Detox understands how difficult dealing with Adderall abuse can be. Luckily, there is a light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of addiction. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you wean off Adderall in a safe and healthy way. Our representatives are available for you at any time of the day. We look forward to hearing from you.