What Every Parent Needs to Know about Adderall Addiction

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Adderall is most commonly known for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but its use as a study aid has effectively turned this medication into one of the most widely used – and abused – recreational drugs among teenagers and young adults.

The Students’ Drug of Choice

The demographic most susceptible to Adderall abuse and addiction is students between the ages of 18 and 22. Many of these young adults initially turn to the stimulant drug as a study aid. That’s because it can help improve focus and boost alertness.  Some of these same students will go on to use the drug outside of academia, eventually spiraling into addiction.

SAMSHA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health notes that 6.4 percent of all full-time college students have used Adderall recreationally within the past year. Nearly 90 percent of those students also admitted to binge drinking during the previous month; over 51 percent admitted they were heavy alcohol users.

The Dangers of Adderall Abuse

Students who abuse Adderall are often unaware of the drug’s dangers. Negative side effects seen with Adderall abuse include anxiety, dizziness, headaches and restlessness. In some cases, users also experience increased blood pressure and heart rate, as well as irregular heart palpitations.

According to statistics, Adderall is being abused at an alarmingly high rate. Facts of particular concern are:

  • Between 2008 and 2012, use of Adderall and other ADHD medications increased by 35 percent
  • The biggest increase was seen among women between the ages of 19 and 25
  • Boys between the ages of 12 and 18 were the top consumers of this ADHD medication

Adderall Facts Between 2007 and 2012, the number of adults with ADHD prescriptions tripled. In 2007, there were 5.6 million monthly ADHD prescriptions for people aged 20 to 39. By 2012, that number had grown close to 16 million. In fact, the number of adults who have an ADHD prescription is now rising much faster than the number of children and teenagers getting the same drugs.

How Can You Help?

If you’re worried about a loved one, fearful he or she might be abusing Adderall, educating yourself about the drug needs to be at the top of your “to-do” list. For example, you’ll want to know the common signs and symptoms of Adderall addiction. These include:

  • Weight loss
  • General loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Noticeable changes in sex drive
  • Aggressive behavior and hallucinations (among regular users going “cold turkey”)

Most people need help to beat an Adderall addiction. When looking for an appropriate rehab center, you’ll want to choose one that offers a medically supervised detoxification program.

Getting Clean and Sober

Those addicted to Adderall should never abruptly stop taking the medication – known as going “cold turkey.”

The rapid withdrawal causes extreme discomfort and brings on a handful of potentially dangerous effects.

The detox process involves a progressive decrease in Adderall dosage that takes place under the supervision of trained medical staff. Eventually, the dosage will become so low that the patient can completely stop taking it without experiencing the effects of withdrawal.

Once detox is completed, a customized behavioral therapy program is implemented. The personalized plan will address cravings for the drug and any underlying issues behind the drug use. This typically involves attending group therapy sessions and one-on-one sessions with a drug counselor or psychiatrist.


Learn more about the mental and physical effects of Adderall abuse.

Image Source: commons.wikimedia.org, Flickr/CollegeDegrees360

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