Focusing on the Reality Behind Adderall Addiction

Although Adderall is mainly prescribed to help treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sleep disorders and severe depression, misuse can lead to an Adderall addiction.

Adderall is a central nervous stimulant. It’s sometimes used as a study aid, especially among college students. In fact, studies show that more and more college students rely on Adderall to stay focused and awake. Adderall can help them juggle more courses, and manage both a party life and a school life.

This medication comes in the form of a tablet, and contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Both are psychoactive ingredients that stimulate the central nervous system. These psychoactive ingredients are responsible for the addictive potential of Adderall. They work by raising dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain.

Adderall pills come in immediate-release (IR) or extended-release (XR) forms. XR Adderall pills take a longer time to have an effect on the body, and will last quite a bit longer than IR pills. Adderall XR 30mg is a particularly popular dose used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD.



Top Trade Names of Adderall

Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Both active compounds play critical roles in stimulating the central nervous system.

The most popular trade name for the drug is Adderall; however, it is also available under the trade names:

  • Adderall XR
  • Mydaysis

This medication comes in a pill form, and can have an immediate-release or extended-release mechanism of action. The extended-release version is known as Adderall XR. The effects of this version will take longer to kick in, but will also last longer. The Adderall dosage recommended for each patient will differ based on their condition, situation, age, biological makeup, and more.

The Mechanism of Action of This Medication

Both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine are potent central nervous system stimulants. Amphetamine is also a component of the drug known as speed. Together, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine work by increasing the amount of neurotransmitters, particularly dopamine and norepinephrine, in the brain.

The sudden boost of dopamine will not only enhance one's alertness, but will also induce a sense of euphoria.

This is known as an Adderall high. The reason why Adderall is able to produce such a strong high is because it is small enough to cross the blood brain barrier.

Once Adderall is administered orally, the gastrointestinal tract will absorb it. It reaches peak concentration in the brain in about 3 hours, and this is when the effects of Adderall are most potent.

It enhances dopaminergic activity by binding to dopamine receptors. It also slows down the removal of dopamine molecules within the region. This ensures that plenty of dopamine can attach to the receptors in the brain. The end result is an amplified signal.

Amphetamine is also able to inhibit an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters. This enzyme is known as monoamine oxidase. By preventing the accumulation of monoamine oxidase, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine will remain in the synapse for a longer amount of time. The body cannot efficiently remove it in a natural manner. This, in a way, enhances the potency of these chemicals and the signals they send.

All in all, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine work together to reduce symptoms like inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

An Adderall addiction happens when the body develops either a physical and psychological dependence on the drug. People who become addicted begin to rely heavily on the drug as part of their daily routine. Soon, they may build tolerance, which means that they may crave a higher dosage to achieve the same desired effects.

Although short-term use of Adderall is usually fine, long-term use can lead to addiction. This is especially true among teenagers and college students. From 2006 to 2011, 67% more young adults abused Adderall. There were also 156% more emergency room visits associated with this medication.

Studies have shown that Adderall is one of the toughest addictions to kick. It’s extremely addictive when abused for extended periods of time.

Since Adderall is indeed addictive, quitting can cause the body to go through withdrawal symptoms. People who are addicted to Adderall may feel as if they can’t function without the medication. Adderall addicts often feel lost without the medication, and feel as if they cannot concentrate or focus.

If their prescription runs out, they are likely to purchase it from drug dealers. The street value of Adderall differs from state to state and city to city. Some people may only pay a couple dollars per pill, whereas others may pay as much as $20 per pill.

The reason why Adderall is so addictive lies in its mechanism of action. It disrupts the brain's natural balance of neurotransmitter levels. Long-term use of Adderall will cause the body to adapt to higher levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.

The brain begins to need a higher level of neurotransmitters to function properly. When an addict quits, these neurotransmitter levels will drop a significant amount. The brain will not be able to adapt to these changes.

As a result, an Adderall addict will likely go through withdrawal symptoms.

Adderall is a federally controlled substance (CII). This means that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has deemed the medication to have a high potential for abuse. Even those who use Adderall as prescribed are susceptible to an Adderall addiction. Abuse occurs when an individual:

  • Takes a higher dose of the medication than prescribed
  • Ingests the medicine through a non-approved administration method, like snorting
  • Takes the medication more frequently than prescribed
  • Takes the medication for reasons other than for medical needs, like for staying awake for longer periods of time or to get high

Misuse can lead to abuse, addiction, and dependence. The road to addiction is expedited for those who are snorting Adderall. An Adderall high is similar to a high produced by cocaine.

Adderall Abuse Statistics

Adderall works by increasing neurotransmitter levels in the central nervous system. It increases the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in the synapses of the brain. This speeds up brain activity and causes individuals to feel more alert and focused.

Adderall is a longer-lasting drug than other stimulants prescribed for similar purposes.

It reaches peak levels in the blood within 1 to 2 hours, and the effects last for about 4 to 6 hours. The metabolites of this drug will remain in the body for several days.

Here are some shocking Adderall abuse statistics:

  • Approximately 20% to 30% of college students regularly misuse and abuse Adderall
  • More than 42 percent of people who were using prescription stimulants, like Adderall, in 2015 did not have a prescription
  • More than 11.7 million Americans had used Adderall for non-medical purposes by 2014
  • 31,000 emergency room visits in 2010 were due to stimulant abuse

Adderall can be taken as a tablet, crushed and snorted, or injected into the bloodstream. The latter option yields the most potent effects, although snorting Adderall will also yield potent effects.

Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Both active compounds play critical roles in stimulating the central nervous system.

The most popular trade name for the drug is Adderall; however, it is also available under the trade names:

  • Adderall XR
  • Mydaysis

This medication comes in a pill form, and can have an immediate-release or extended-release mechanism of action. The extended-release version is known as Adderall XR. The effects of this version will take longer to kick in, but will also last longer. The Adderall dosage recommended for each patient will differ based on their condition, situation, age, biological makeup, and more.

Adderall Addiction Symptoms and Side Effects

People addicted to Adderall can be high functioning. They may be able to easily hide their addiction from friends and family members.

Valium Recovery

Symptoms of an Adderall addiction can range from minor to severe, and is often mingled with side effects of Adderall abuse. The severity of the side effects of Adderall abuse will depend on factors, like the length of the drug use and the dosage taken. Some of the possible signs of Adderall abuse and addiction include:

  • Aggression and agitation
  • Convulsions
  • Financial difficulties
  • Hallucinations
  • Insomnia and sleep disorders
  • Intense cravings for the medication
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of libido or sexual dysfunction
  • Overly talkative behaviors
  • Paranoia and depression
  • Secretive behaviors or social withdrawal
  • Unusual excitability
  • Vomiting and nausea

Each individual will experience a unique combination of physical and psychological symptoms. Long-term Adderall users are more likely to experience serious side effects. They are also more likely to experience more intense symptoms.

Most symptoms are due to the drug's ability to change the brain's neurocircuitry. These changes often lead to altered behaviors, like mood swings, and mental disorders.

College students between the ages of 18 and 25 are most at risk for abusing Adderall. This demographic has easy access to the drug. Children diagnosed with ADHD are also at risk. Doctors are more likely to prescribe these individuals Adderall. These individuals are also more likely to have access to the medication at lowered costs.

People who have family members and friends who are diagnosed with ADHD may also gain access to the medication. They may steal the pills from medicine cabinets and purses to get high.

Another risk factor may include genetics. People who have parents or siblings who are dealing and struggling with an addiction may be at a greater risk of getting addicted to Adderall. This is because there’s a family history of addictive behaviors.

Stress, personal history of abuse and co-occurring mental disorders are also risk factors for Adderall addiction and abuse.

Those who take larger doses of Adderall or have used the drug for longer periods of time are also more likely to become addicted. It's vital that patients start off with a slow dose. The body can build tolerance to the drug rather quickly.

Overdose Symptoms

With time, people taking Adderall can develop a tolerance to the drug. Tolerance is a sign that the body has adapted to the altered neurotransmitter levels. The higher the tolerance, the larger the dose that is needed to achieve the same results as before. This causes some people to take a larger dose than prescribed. Others may take a larger dose in search of experiencing a recreational high.

Adderall overdoses can be fatal, and can cause permanent damage to the body. Overdoses can cause strokes and cardiovascular complications.

Symptoms of an Adderall overdose include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression and panic
  • Dark urine
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Rhabdomyolysis, also known as damage to the skeletal muscles
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Upset stomach

The amount of Adderall needed to cause an overdose will vary from person to person. The drug will affect each person differently. It's based on factors like the addict’s own biological makeup, age, and weight.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Adderall Abuse

Adderall withdrawal symptoms can kick in within 6 to 36 hours of the last dose. This is described as a 'crash', and Adderall addicts often feel depressed and fatigued. The symptoms will start to peak within three to five days of the last dose, and then will begin to subside. It can take up to 3 weeks for physical withdrawal symptoms to completely subside in some patients.

Common physical withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulties concentrating and lack of motivation
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia and nightmares
  • Intense cravings
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Suicidal thoughts

Psychological dependence and withdrawal symptoms can take months to subside. The intensity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on the dosage taken. It also depends on the length of the drug use.

Co-Occurring Disorders

ADHD is one of the main co-occurring disorders involved with Adderall abuse. However, many people misusing Adderall also struggle with depression or anxiety. Adderall can be a dangerous drug to use because it can mask symptoms of other disorders and delay diagnosis and treatment. This is particularly true for mental disorders.

Since Adderall is prescribed for ADHD, Adderall addiction treatment programs should treat both disorders at the same time. This enhances the effectiveness of the treatment and prevents relapses. If mental disorders are not treated, they may worsen. This may increase the likelihood of future use of illicit substances among patients.

The effects of Adderall are also magnified when taken with alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, which means that it acts completely opposite from Adderall. Adderall combined with alcohol increases the likelihood of alcohol poisoning and Adderall overdose.

An Adderall addiction can cause severe health consequences, like a heart attack or liver failure. This addiction is treatable using both medical detox and behavioral therapies or counselling.

Adderall Addiction Treatment and Prognosis

Treat an Adderall addiction with residential inpatient and intensive outpatient programs. Residential inpatient programs offer a more intense level of care and supervision. This can better allow individuals to focus on treatment.

Medical detoxification is also highly recommended. Many doctors also recommend therapies and counselling like:

  • Behavioural therapy
  • Exercise
  • One-on-one and group therapy
  • Relaxation strategies
  • Stress management

Most treatments start off by gradually tapering individuals off of Adderall. This involves taking a smaller and smaller dosage each day. This allows the body plenty of time to adjust to the fluctuating neurotransmitter levels in the brain and synapses. A gradual taper helps prevent severe and intense withdrawal symptoms and side effects.

Inpatient programs offer around-the-clock supervision. Doctors can tailor the dosage of the medications to each patient’s reaction to the cessation of Adderall. They can also keep each patient's unique medical condition in mind. This results in a higher quality of care. Patients, who opt for inpatient programs, are less likely to relapse. They are able to successfully finish the treatment program within a shorter time frame.

Medical detoxification may also be an effective treatment option. An array of medications can lessen the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. These medications can also curb cravings. These medications must be administered under the supervision of a doctor.

Common medications used to treat an Adderall addiction include:

  • Analgesics to treat headaches
  • Anticonvulsant medications, like Neurontin and Topamax, to reduce cravings and prevent crashes
  • Antidepressants to prevent anxiety
  • Antipsychotics for patients who exhibit paranoia.
  • Mild stimulants, like Provigil, to prevent fatigue and lethargy during the treatment
  • Muscle relaxants, like Baclofen, to reduce cravings and lessen the intensity of withdrawals
  • Opiate antagonists, like Naltrexone, to help manage cravings brought on by the amphetamine

Medical detox is offered in both inpatient and outpatient programs. Check with your local rehab program to see what each one of them offers.

Relapse Prevention

Relapses are not uncommon in people with substance use disorders. They are usually triggered by negative emotions, relationship problems, and peer pressure. Relapses can also be caused by unmanaged cravings.

Behavioral therapies and counselling are designed to help prevent relapses.

They teach patients how to deal with negative emotions and identify triggers. These programs also help build a strong support system around the patients, so they know where and when to seek help. Encouragement from loved ones can be an effective relapse prevention tactic. Medical detoxification and treatments prevent or lessen the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. They also curb cravings.

Individuals who are struggling with an addiction and are feeling tempted to relapse can take steps to prevent it by:

  • Avoiding triggers
  • Becoming self-aware of the situation and letting it pass
  • Reaching out for support
  • Using distraction techniques

Just because you’ve relapsed, don’t give up hope. A relapse doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. Instead, learn from the relapse, and there’s a higher chance that you’ll be successful the next time around.

Life a Fuller Life

An Adderall addiction is treatable. Those with a history of Adderall abuse have a good chance at recovering, if they are committed. Proper addiction treatment can cure an Adderall addiction to help individuals achieve sobriety and live a healthier lifestyle.

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