Our current fast-paced modern-day society promotes working longer hours and sleeping less. From the classroom to the office people are looking for ways to stay ahead of the competition, often at the expense of their mental and physical health. Many have turned to the use of so-called “smart drugs” to help enhance their performance. One such drug, Adderall, is prescribed for those with ADHD, however, Adderall is often misused in ways other than prescribed or intended.
While Adderall might be perceived as a cognitive enhancer by its users this may actually be a misconception. The drug does not actually provide cognitive enhancement for those without ADHD, but rather creates the perceived effects of having more motivation and energy.
Contrary to what users may think, individuals that abuse high doses of these drugs actually become more inattentive and have difficulty concentrating. In a study on college students, Adderall misuse was found to be negatively correlated with academic functioning.
Additionally, the misuse of Adderall can have dangerous side effects that can harm both the brain and body. Adderall side effects include:
- Issues with anxiety, restlessness, agitation, and/or irritability.
- Headache, blurred vision, dry mouth, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
- Diarrhea, constipation, nausea, stomach pain, and/or vomiting.
- Fever, weight loss, a loss of appetite.
- Sexual problems can include impotence and decreased libido particularly in males.
- Cardiovascular issues including increased blood pressure, heart palpitations, and an increased heart rate.
- Psychosis in some individuals (hallucinations and/or delusions).
- An increased probability to develop more severe cardiovascular issues such as chronic heart disease and/or stroke.
- Increased probability of developing seizures.
Adderall Addiction and Abuse
Adderall is classified as a Schedule II Controlled Substance and has a high potential for abuse when misused or abuse. If used as intended and prescribed it can help those with ADHD function, however, theprevalence of misuse and abuse has increased due to the popularity and availability of the drug.
Adderall is often purchased illicitly or used in a manner other than intended or prescribed by a physician. Adderal misuses include taking the drug recreationally to get high, using it for weight loss, or as a cognitive enhancer by those without ADHD. Due to the stimulating effects of Adderall and it’s effects on the dopamine reward circuitry, it has a relatively high potential for abuse.
Adderall is a potent amphetamine-based psychostimulant that increases dopamine levels and adrenaline in the brain and body. This stimulating effects that give users a sense of having more energy, motivation, and a slight feeling of euphoria can lead to dependency as tolerance develops over time.
Changes in neurochemistry create dependency and a user may need a higher dose to feel the same effects once experienced. Dependency can lead to addiction as the drug is now required to think and feel normal. This can be accompanied by intense cravings, withdrawal symptoms if a user stops taking the drug, and often leads to misuse and abuse as a user chases the high they feel from taking the drug.
Under these circumstances, a user may find themselves unable or unwilling to stop taking Adderall despite experiencing negative consequences and having the desire to quit. In this case, professional intervention may be required to help recover from Adderall addiction and abuse.
The following are signs and symptoms that Adderall addiction may be a problem:
- “Doctor shopping” or having multiple prescriptions.
- Purchasing the drug illicitly
- Changes in weight and physical appearance
- Taking more than prescribed
- Off-label use (weight loss, recreationally)
- Using Adderall to get high
- Snorting Adderall
- Unexplained aggressiveness, hostile behavior, or agitation
- Lying about usage to friends and loved ones.
- The inability to stop taking Adderall despite a strong desire to stop.
- The inability to feel happy without Adderall
- Lack of motivation or feelings of apathy without Adderall
- Intense cravings or withdrawal symptoms if stopped.
If you or a loved one is exhibiting one or more of these above-mentioned signs, it may be an indication of an Adderall addiction. Early intervention is key and it’s worth discussing the matter with a treatment professional to explore whether treatment is needed.
Adderall Addiction Treatment
Gaining an understanding of Adderall addiction, the signs, symptoms, and how it develops is crucial to getting it under control. Early intervention can help increase the likelihood of long-term recovery from Adderall abuse. It essential that you and loved ones understand the addictive potential of Adderall and to intervene when signs and symptoms of abuse are present. If you need help reach out to a local addiction specialist that has experience treating Adderall addiction. There is no shame in asking for help when needed, and it could be one of the best life choices you ever make.
Assess the Severity of Addiction
The first step in treating Adderall addiction is to assess the severity of the problem. Due to the effects of Adderall on dopamine reward pathways, it can create dependence and addiction that reinforces the use of the drug. Addiction potential can be influenced by several factors including the length of time and quantity that the drug was used, genetic factors, mental and physical health, environment, and lifestyle. Addiction assessments help guide treatment based on personal circumstances.
Therapy sessions with an experienced addiction therapist are a foundational component of Adderall addiction treatment. Individual therapy sessions allow clients the opportunity to discuss difficult emotions and thoughts in a private environment that feels safe. Therapy sessions provide those in recovery an awareness of sources of mental and emotional distress and which help get to the root of Adderall addiction. Therapists can help to resolve mental and emotional conflict using psychotherapy techniques such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), which help to reframe negative thought patterns and belief systems.
Depending on addiction severity it is generally recommended to taper off the drug slowly under the supervision of a medical professional. Slowly reducing the dosage over the course of a few weeks to a few months can help safely manage the withdrawal process. A doctor or substance abuse detox professional should manage this process to avoid and potentially dangerous consequences.
Complementary and Alternative therapies
Adderall addiction treatment can also incorporate the use of several alternative treatment modalities. Adderall abuse can stem from a combination of mind and body conditions that require a broad range of therapies to correct.
In addition to conventional substance abuse treatment, cocaine rehab can also include:
Adderall use can alter brain chemistry and lower the ability to produce dopamine naturally. The above-mentioned therapies can help accelerate the process of rewiring the brain and can help stimulate “feel good” neurotransmitters such as dopamine and endorphins naturally.
How To Help Someone With Adderall Addiction
Nuview offers outpatient treatment for Adderall addiction. Our comprehensive treatment model can help heal the mental, physical, and emotional imbalances caused by Adderall abuse.
If you or a loved one has been struggling with Adderall addiction, we can help. Our caring and welcoming staff have the skills and experience you need to help you recover from Adderall addiction.