- Table of ContentsPrint
- What Is Adderall?
- Signs and Symptoms
- Effects of Adderall Abuse
- Adderall Abuse Treatment
- Teen Adderall Abuse
- Resources, Articles and More Information
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine that is used primarily to treat the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It has benefits with sleep disorders and reported, off-label utility in managing some forms of severe depression as well.
This drug is classified as a central nervous system stimulant, which means it speeds up and heightens certain bodily processes. Adderall is an oral medication prescribed by a physician who will normally start a patient on a low dose to avoid unwanted side effects, gradually increasing it as necessary.
Adderall abuse occurs in several ways including:
- Taking a higher dose of the substance than prescribed.
- Taking the medicine through a non-approved method like snorting.
- Taking the drug for reasons other than medical need, such as to stay awake for long periods of time.
- Taking the medication more frequently than prescribed.
- Taking someone else’s medication.
- Purchasing the drug from an illicit source for recreational use.
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Signs and Symptoms
Even medically approved use of Adderall can cause side effects; abusing the drug, however, can cause side effects to occur with higher frequency and intensity. Common symptoms of abuse include:
- Dry mouth.
- Stomach upset.
- Digestive issues.
- Reduced appetite.
- Diarrhea or constipation.
- Pounding or fast heartbeat.
- Shortness of breath.
- Difficulty sleeping and staying to sleep.
- Excessive fatigue.
- Changes in sex drive.
More Dangerous Effects
Continued use can lead to more severe effects. With long-term abuse or abuse that involves high doses of Adderall, the symptoms can compound and can include:
- Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.
- Slowed or difficult speech.
- Chest pain.
- Hives or rash.
- Blistering or peeling skin
- Changes in vision.
- Aggressive behavior.
If you notice any of the above in yourself or another, seek help or consult a doctor immediately.
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Symptoms of Adderall Overdose
Overdosing on a stimulant medication like Adderall can lead to grave health consequences. If you suspect an overdose, call 911 or your local emergency services.
Some symptoms of overdose include:
- Panic attack.
- Cardiac rhythm abnormalities.
- Uncontrollable tremor.
- Profound confusion or delirium.
- Loss of consciousness.
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Effects of Adderall Abuse
Long-term Adderall abuse can lead to the hallmark signs of a substance use disorder. These problems are most likely to occur when the drug is taken above and beyond prescribed parameters. Some of the most concerning issues that may arise are:
- Tolerance, which means needing more of the drug to obtain the same result. Often, as use increases, it becomes impossible to ever recreate the initial high.
- Dependency, which means that after some time your body will function sub-optimally without the drug present in your system.
- Addiction, which means that compulsive drug seeking behavior and persistent drug use continue despite full knowledge of the risks and negative life consequences that have developed.
Patients are more likely to overdose and to cause harm to their bodies when the drug is misused. A major concern for many people that abuse Adderall over an extended period is the risk of cardiovascular issues. Since Adderall is a stimulant, it plays a major role in:
- Increasing your blood pressure.
- Increasing your heart rate.
- Increasing your body temperature to dangerous levels.
These factors combined are linked to serious medical issues like stroke and/or cardiac arrest.
The Dangers of Mixing Adderall with Alcohol
Another risk of overdose associated with Adderall is when the substance is mixed with other substances like alcohol. Adderall has the ability to mask certain indictors of intoxication that people would otherwise use to slow or stop their consumption. If these signs go unnoticed, the user is at risk of continued drinking—potentially leading to alcohol poisoning, coma, or death.
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Video: Adderall Abuse
Adderall Abuse Treatment
Knowing the facts about Adderall can help prevent needing treatment by preventing addiction.
Preventative treatment for Adderall abuse includes:
- Educating yourself and those around you about the risks of the substance.
- Tracking and monitoring use of the substance in your home.
- Keeping medication in a safe place so that it cannot be abused by others.
However, if you or someone you know needs treatment for Adderall addiction, rehab centers can help.
Rehabilitation centers can help by providing detoxification services and will aid in treating patients for psychological addictions as well as physical.
Professional services like inpatient or outpatient treatment are often necessary for those struggling with Adderall abuse. Excessive stimulant exposure over time – and the resultant increase in dopamine activity – can cause subtle brain changes that reinforce drug behavior to the point of being quite difficult to reverse on one's own.
Once the patient stops abusing Adderall, the brain will experience a strong desire for more dopamine leading to cravings for Adderall. Other common withdrawal symptoms of Adderall include:
- Low energy.
- Disrupted sleep.
Treatment options will vary according to the level of abuse present. Inpatient, outpatient, long-term residential programs offering a combination of individual and group therapy to treat the addiction and underlying mental health issues.
It’s important to note that treatment centers and their services can vary widely, so it’s essential to interview the facility to find out:
- How long the stay will be (e.g., 28 days, 90 days, etc.), if inpatient.
- The treatment center’s philosophy about treatment.
- Which types of treatment are provided (e.g., contingency management, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc.) and what these treatment modalities will entail.
- Any additional desired amenities or facility location preferences.
- Levels of certification for the addiction treatment team.
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Teen Adderall Abuse
Adderall abuse by teens and young adults is common because of stress and time management issues at college make the perceived effects of the drug more appealing.
In 2006 and 2007, the NSDUH reported that students going to school full-time between the ages of 18 and 22 were twice as likely to have used Adderall recreationally, opposed to those in the same age who do not go to school full time.
Students using Adderall for recreational purposes were also recognized as being:
- 3 times as likely to have used
- 8 times more likely to have used prescription tranquilizers like Xanax and Klonopin recreationally.
According to the Monitoring the Future Study, use among 10th graders has remained at 2011 levels through 2014, but use among 12th graders has increased from 6.5% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2014.
Preventing Teen Adderall Abuse
If you help your child learn about the dangers of Adderall abuse and better ways to manage time, activities, homework and other school-related items, he or she will be less likely to need the drug to stave off sleep.
A crucial part of prevention is to inform young adults that there is no association documented between Adderall abuse and increased study abilities or intelligence. In actuality, reports show that students that abuse Adderall are more likely to have lower grades than students that do not abuse the substance.
Remember, the more you speak with your child about the dangers of drug use, the less likely he will be to abuse drugs. It's especially important to emphasize the dangers of prescription drugs. Many teens feel that these drugs are not as dangerous as illicit drugs and take them without as much concern.
If you're concerned about your child's use of Adderall, don't wait for the problem to escalate. Find help and support now by calling 1-800-943-0566 to speak with a treatment support specalist.
- According to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, also called NSDUH, approximately 6.4% of fulltime college students between the ages of 18 and 22 used Adderall in a recreational way in the past year. On top of this, 89.5% of students who reported Adderall abuse also participated in binge drinking in the past month, and over half of those students were heavy abusers of alcohol.
- In 2006 and 2007, the NSDUH reported that students going to school fulltime between the ages of 18 and 22 were 2 times as likely to have used Adderall recreationally, opposed to those in the same age who do not go to school full time.
- Students who were in college fulltime using Adderall for recreational purposes were also recognized as being three times as likely to have used marijuana, and they were eight times more likely to have used prescription tranquilizers recreationally as well.
To learn more, visit our article, History and Statistics of "Study Drugs".
Resources, Articles and More Information
For more information on the dangers of Adderall, see the following articles:
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