According to a report by The Washington Post, more than 16 million people over 18 are using prescription medication like Adderall in the United States alone.
Addictions to prescription medication are all too common in today’s society.
While many prescription drugs are legally prescribed by a doctor and cause little to no harm for most people, addiction to these drugs can quickly occur.
It can be as harmful as more stigmatized drugs such as cocaine, heroin and alcohol.
Among many of its uses, Adderall is often used to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is an addictive prescription stimulant with effects similar to methamphetamine.
It is a drug used to increase alertness and productivity.
Many people use it, including high school and college students looking to ‘get ahead’, young professionals climbing the career ladder, and people who work long hours (such as lawyers, finance workers and doctors).
Stimulants like Adderall also help people to stay awake.
Adderall is a potent stimulant, and unfortunately, it can be challenging to recognize the warning signs and symptoms when someone is abusing the drug.
In non-prescribed doses, people and young adults are at increased risk of becoming addicted to the drug and developing an unhealthy habit, such as a substance use disorder that could have disastrous consequences.
How does Adderall work?
Adderall is a stimulant (like cocaine or caffeine) and works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system.
In short, norepinephrine affects the speed at which a person reacts to outside stimuli – all this speeds up the brain’s response time to external events that occur around a user.
On the other hand, dopamine is the body’s feel-good chemical, which generates a reward when activated.
Although a natural chemical in the body, Adderall often produces unusually high dopamine levels, giving the user a sense of relief beyond what they might typically experience.
Unfortunately, all of this can cause many people to become dependent on taking the drug.
Common symptoms of Adderall addiction
Adderall addiction is challenging to spot in a person.
There are fewer physical symptoms than with, say, meth or heroin addiction. However, there are similar symptoms that get experienced by the user.
Some of the more common symptoms associated with Adderall abuse may include:
- Needing larger doses to feel the drug’s effects
- Not being able to finish work (or single tasks) without the help of Adderall
- Spending a lot of time getting the money to buy a prescription drug like Adderall and a lot of time recovering from what is known as an ‘Adderall high.’
- Feeling unusually sleepy, tired and sluggish when not using the drug
- Neglecting other ‘normal’ activities in favor of using Adderall
- Nausea, vomiting and chest pain
- Uncontrollable shaking
- A lack of sexual appetite (or increased sexual desire)
- A change in blood pressure
Other symptoms of Adderall addiction that others might be able to spot (some of which are often synonymous with many other prescription stimulants) include:
- Being overly talkative and having more energy than normal
- Loss of appetite
- Financial troubles
- Memory loss
- Relationship problems
- Social withdrawal
- Excessive weight loss
- Impulsive behaviors
Other side effects
There are, of course, plenty of other side effects of Adderall abuse.
In severe cases, an overdose might occur, leading to hospitalization or, worse, death.
Other side effects of abusing Adderall include the likelihood of someone suffering a heart attack, liver failure, strokes are also all too common for those with a stimulant abuse problem like Adderall.
People with a drug abuse problem (like Adderall addiction) are also at risk of developing mental health issues. They may experience suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety as a result of taking Adderall.
Since Adderall produces high dopamine levels in the body, excessive drug use can prevent the body from naturally creating the chemical.
As a result, when a person stops taking Adderall or ceases to get high – they often experience extreme bouts of depression and a low mood without the drug.
Therefore, the need to provide medical advice around the effects of taking such a drug is pertinent.
The effects of Adderall changes the structure of the central nervous system, which also changes a person’s brain neurochemistry, especially if substance abuse continues over a period of time.
When someone abuses Adderall, all this can bring on mental disorders such as severe anxiety, stress and even more severe illnesses like bipolar disorder can also occur.
Adderall dependence vs Adderall addiction
Adderall dependence is a naturally occurring physiological response to the drug.
Like all drugs, the more frequently you take them, the less effect they have since the body builds a tolerance to the chemicals ingested.
Consequently, a user’s tolerance level will likely increase over time, requiring them to increase the use of Adderall to achieve a similar ‘high’.
All this is how the potential for abuse and dependency occurs.
Due to the nature of addiction that often occurs with excessive use of Adderall, people usually experience severe withdrawal and cravings, all of which may result in erratic behavior to acquire the drug (such as breaking the law).
Adderall withdrawal symptoms
Many withdrawal symptoms occur when people decide to go cold turkey – these include:
- Low energy
- Dry mouth and dehydration
- Body aches
- Mood swings
- Severe anxiety and panic attacks
- Short-term memory loss
While there is currently no medication to mitigate the Adderall addictions withdrawal symptoms, some doctors may prescribe certain medicines that counteract any unpleasant side effects.
For example, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication may help people manage the withdrawal symptoms and the onset of mental health issues that may occur when coming off Adderall.
In extreme cases, doctors may recommend a “step-down” treatment approach to detox from Adderall, all of which includes reducing the dosage to a small percentage until Adderall is no longer needed.
Between 2002 and 2012, prescriptions for Adderall increased nearly five-fold.
Unfortunately, this kind of substance abuse problem is an all-too-common addiction across America and the rest of the world.
But, because it is a legal substance and gets prescribed by doctors, it doesn’t carry the same stigma as other drugs.
However, Adderall comes with similar ramifications and side effects, and intervention at a rehab center is essential to ‘wean’ someone off Adderall once and for all.
Of course, not everyone who decides to abuse Adderall has an addiction.
While the use of the drug can be a slippery slope, there is a fine line between needing Adderall to function normally and using it once in a while to experience the desired effects, such as increased productivity.
As a consequence, recognizing when someone has an addiction to the substance can be difficult.
The key to recognizing an Adderall addiction is to spot specific behavioral changes.
Signs of Adderall abuse
Often, drug addicts display similar behavior changes and prioritize using and obtaining the drug over everything else.
Through excessive drug use, sexual desires get diminished, and a person’s mood may change suddenly. It’s also common for addicts’ loved ones’ to witness outbursts of aggression in response to drugs such as prescription stimulants.
Adderall addiction: intervention and next steps
An intervention is an excellent way for friends and family to persuade someone with a substance use disorder to get help.
Staging an intervention for someone addicted to Adderall may sound like a drastic measure, but it could save a person’s life and help them achieve sobriety, long-term happiness and better health outcomes.
All this improves the lives of those around the addict and provides information that they may not have been exposed to before.
It’s important to catch and treat an Adderall addiction as early as possible before the addict reaches the various stages that can cause long-term harm or extreme health concerns.
Ready to get help
The first step towards long-term recovery is a trusted, professional and tailored rehabilitation program that may well be the very thing needed to help someone overcome an Adderall addiction.
At Tikvah Lake, we concentrate on helping those suffering from an Adderall addiction get the necessary care and treatment (including the right aftercare ), ensuring that, when they leave the center, they take with them important lessons that get carried forward into the future.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an effective therapy to help an Adderall addict.
This form of treatment changes a person’s drug use, expectations and behaviors’, and manages triggers and stress to prevent future drug use and relapse.
As with all rehabilitation programs, individualized treatment is essential to treat addiction effectively. After all, people experience addiction in a plethora of unique ways.
Personalized treatment is necessary for overcoming Adderall addiction, and here at Tikvah Lake, that’s what we offer.
To find out more about our treatment options for Adderall addiction and to see how we can help, contact us or call 954-906-7661