Adderall Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Options
Many people take Adderall outside of prescription guidelines to increase focus and concentration. Adderall abuse is harmful to the heart and brain, and may develop into an addiction that requires treatment.
Adderall is a stimulant medication containing the drugs amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It’s used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Adderall or its extended-release version, Adderall XR, has an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction, especially when used by individuals without these medical concerns. Inpatient drug rehab is vastly beneficial in these circumstances, as effective treatment must take the time to teach you how to live and maintain a sober, balanced life.
Perhaps you’re struggling within your family, at school or on the workforce, and Adderall abuse has become your means to cope or stay on top of your responsibilities. But remember, drug abuse pushes your body and brain to dangerous extremes, all the while these problems are left to continue.
If you don’t address these issues, they’ll become greater than they were at the start. Not only this, but they’ll also be accompanied by serious mental and physical health concerns caused from the Adderall abuse itself. At Addiction Campuses we understand the complex relationship between your life, health and substance abuse. Our treatment focuses on these connections, so that we can treat and restore your physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual health.
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What Is Adderall?
Adderall is most renowned for its use in treating ADHD, however it can also be used to treat narcolepsy (a sleep disorder). This drug is offered in two formulations, including the immediate-release Adderall (written simply as Adderall) and an extended-release version, Adderall XR. Both are offered in 5 mg to 30 mg doses, in varying colors or color combinations, with the former as a tablet and the latter as a capsule.
As a stimulant Adderall changes your brain chemistry, most notably by increasing dopamine (a brain chemical or neurotransmitter) and the rate by which your central nervous system (CNS) functions. These changes are witnessed by some of the following;
A person becoming more:
- Physically active
- Blood pressure
- Breathing rates (respiration)
- Heart rate
- Feelings of well-being
- Need for sleep
Prescribed use induces these states in what is typically a manageable and safe way. Individuals who are diagnosed and struggle with ADHD can experience great benefits to their focus, concentration, executive planning and ability to think in a more linear manner. But for those who do not struggle in this way (and even some who do), Adderall can be dangerous, addictive and even deadly, as these changes shift into dangerous extremes.
How Does Adderall Abuse Affect Your Brain?
During prescribed use, Adderall is meant to gradually increase and level out dopamine so that a person reaches a more natural, optimal level. During abuse, and as higher and more frequent doses of the drug are used, these levels spike quickly and unnaturally, resulting in not only a high, but a host of adverse health effects as well.
Dopamine is linked to attention, movement and pleasure, according to NIDA. Individuals who struggle with ADHD are often deficient in these levels, which manifests as the symptoms and struggles of ADHD. By design, Adderall’s cognitive benefits are felt for those who are deficient in the brain chemicals the drug boosts.
Dopamine is responsible for creating these effects, but also the feel-good effects drug abusers seek. Altering and increasing levels of this neurotransmitter is the underlying goal of the majority of drug abuse, even if the user isn’t mindful that this is the reason. Quickly and radically boosting dopamine is what creates the pleasurable effects associated with most forms of recreational drug abuse, especially with stimulants like Adderall.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) comments on this:
“When taken in doses and via routes other than those prescribed, prescription stimulants can increase brain dopamine in a rapid and highly amplified manner (similar to other drugs of abuse such as methamphetamine), thereby disrupting normal communication between brain cells and producing euphoria and, as a result, increasing the risk of addiction.”
Over time, your brain is tricked into thinking it no longer needs to produce normal levels of dopamine (and other brain chemicals affected by abuse) on its own. As this production decreases your brain becomes reliant on Adderall to function properly, an impact which even affects how your physical states are managed. The transition to this state is termed a dependence.
Within these periods, a person may also find that the amount of Adderall they once used no longer creates the sought after effect, leading them to take more. This is called tolerance. While both dependence and tolerance can occur within prescribed use, when accompanied by drug-seeking and habitual use, they are characteristic of addiction.
Is Adderall A “Smart Drug?”
In the past several years, Adderall has garnered widespread attention for its prevalence as a study drug or “smart pill” due to the perception that it offers “cognitive enhancement,” or an increased ability to think and perform mental functions.
Contrary to people’s ambitions, as explained by NIDA, “studies have found that they do not enhance learning or thinking ability when taken by people who do not actually have ADHD.” Prolonged drug abuse is actually detrimental to your brain and the damage which occurs can actually make it more difficult for an individual to think clearly and efficiently.
In addition, these patterns of abuse and the subsequent changes to a person’s brain chemistry can significantly alter a person’s mental and emotional states causing fluctuating and unstable moods and new or worsening mental illnesses. Combined, these changes can decrease a person’s ability to take in, retain and utilize new information or carry out and maintain complex thought processes. As your drug abuse progresses it can be doing the reverse of what you hoped it would do and so much more detriment beyond that.
Who Abuses Adderall?
The range of Adderall abuse is wide, but quite frequently it stems from an individual’s pursuit to enhance their academic or professional performance. Individuals take the drug because they believe it will help them to learn more, think better and/or stay more alert or awake for longer periods of time. This makes it an appealing drug for students and professionals alike, however, these notions are very misleading. Adderall abuse can be extremely harmful to your health and life, leading to addiction, overdose and death.
One thing which is especially frightening is that this abuse often starts young. Abuse of Adderall and other prescription stimulant medications is particularly high within adolescents and teenagers. When confronted with the growing pressures revolving around academic performance, far too many individuals of these ages turn to Adderall and other prescription stimulants.
People use drugs and alcohol for a variety of reasons at numerous points within their life. As explained by NIDA, adolescent drug abuse often originates for one or more of the following reasons:
- To fit in
- To feel good
- To feel better
- To do better
- To experiment
Since a large amount of Adderall abuse begins at these ages before transitioning into young adulthood and beyond, it’s important to understand the root of abuse. Even adults fall prey to Adderall abuse for these same reasons. Throughout these ages, many individuals will feign having ADHD in order to procure a prescription for this medication.
Is It Okay To Self-Medicate With Adderall?
You might wonder what happens to a person who is using the drug to self-medicate. Maybe they believe they have ADHD, but have never been assessed for it. Perhaps they have been diagnosed but aren’t seeking medical guidance from a physician and/or failed to return for a new prescription and check-up.
In either case, taking Adderall in dosages that you determine on your own can place your body and brain in harm’s way. Even if your brain could benefit from this medication, taking it without guidance means you could overlook something which places you in danger. No two people’s bodies and brains are alike, and Adderall should only be used after a doctor evaluates your unique health history and prescribes it based on these facts.
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Understanding Adderall Abuse
When an individual without ADHD uses Adderall their body and brain experiences the effects quite differently when compared to an individual with ADHD, again because of differences in brain chemistry. This is what places the former individual at a much higher risk of abuse and addiction when taking the drug. Even individuals with ADHD can become addicted, should they begin misusing their or someone else’s prescription.
While a person with ADHD will feel more calm on this medication, an individual without will feel extremely energetic, wakeful and, as the drug class implies, highly stimulated. Within abuse, especially during binges, these users may not sleep for extended periods of time.
Adderall is also abused by individuals who desire to lose weight. Further, as a stimulant, Adderall can create a euphoric state, leading many recreational abusers to use this drug to induce intense pleasurable states. But as time passes these feelings can fade, giving rise to hostility and even intense paranoia.
As an orally-administered medication, users may simply take a higher dose and/or consume the drug more frequently. But like other forms of stimulant abuse, users may crush the tablets or capsule material so that they can snort or inject it (when liquefied with water). Any of these modes drastically increases the potential for abuse and addiction, as well as the risk of adverse drug-related health effects, such as injection-related transmissible disease.
Side Effects And Risks Of Adderall Abuse
Even with prescribed use Adderall can create some uncomfortable, serious side effects, including:
- Appetite suppression which can lead to weight loss
- Breathing difficulties
- Cardiovascular complications
- Changes to your eyesight, including blurred vision
- Chest pain
- Dry mouth
- Gastrointestinal complications (nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea)
- Fever, chills or flu-like symptoms
- Irregular, pounding or quickened heartbeat
- Numb or cold extremities
- Trouble urinating
- Trouble sleeping
- Auditory, tactile or visual hallucinations
- Agitation and restlessness
- Delusional thinking
- Manic tendencies
Within situations of abuse, the risk for and intensity of these side effects rises. Due to the CNS stimulation, a person’s blood pressure, breathing, heart and temperature rates all climb, placing undue strain on your cardiovascular system. From this and other impacts, additional side effects may arise, many more dangerous, including:
- Brain changes
- Cardiac arrest
- Hives or rashes
- Personality changes
- Sudden death
It can be scary to realize the risks you’re exposing yourself too. Replace your fear with a sense of empowerment and hope. With our help you can begin working on protecting your body and brain as you develop a sober life.
Learn Valuable Life Skills
For those who began using Adderall in an attempt to bolster their performance, either academically or professionally, the thought of a sober life can be intimidating. As the Adderall abuse accelerated, handling these areas upon your own accord through your skill, talent and determination likely took second stage to the drug.
Within an addicted state, many individuals may be convinced they can’t handle the challenges and expectations of these responsibilities without the drug. This isn’t true. We’re here to show you the power you have within, power which can build positive changes and success for yourself, your loved ones and your career.
Sadly, for those who begin using Adderall or other stimulants to enhance their performance academically or professionally, the drug abuse might eventually cause their downfall in these ways. One of the hallmark signs of addiction is when the drug seeking and using becomes so consuming that a person’s family life, livelihood and other responsibilities like school, all begin to suffer.
But the truth is, you can succeed without Adderall, both within your personal and professional lives, and Addiction Campuses is here to show you how.
The Benefits Of Inpatient Drug Rehab Programs For Adderall Abuse
An inpatient rehab center’s residential format insulates you from harmful outside influences and triggers which could negatively affect you during an outpatient program. And should temptation arise, within our inpatient programs, clients have 24/7 access to staff members who are trained in relapse prevention techniques. These individuals will remind you of how far you’ve come and where you’re going.
Inpatient programs offer a greater continuity of treatment, that is, when you move from one treatment modality to the next, the overarching goals of your treatment carry from one session to the next. At Addiction Campuses we treat addiction medically, mentally and spiritually. Through this approach you’ll get far more out of both your treatment and recovery, as well as better all around health.
Here are some of the transformative and research-based treatment modalities we rely on to help you build a healthy, sober life:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Motivational interviewing (MI)
If you do suffer from ADHD, or another mental health disorder, we also offer dual diagnosis treatment.
We believe in treating the individual holistically, in a way which is tailored to your own dynamic personality and life. To encourage personal growth and resilience, we also offer:
- Adventure Therapy
- A Balanced Life
- Experiential Therapy
- Wilderness Therapy
All of this occurs on one of our peaceful, natural campuses, under the guidance of our highly-trained and caring treatment professionals.
Consider Professional Treatment To Enhance Your Career The Sober And Proactive Way
If you started using Adderall as a way to push yourself within your career, then consider our dual diagnosis Treatment for Professionals program. This engaging program is formatted to meet the unique needs and lifestyles of licensed professionals and executive level corporate professionals (aged 30 and older).
Not only will we treat the drug addiction, but we’ll help you to get back on your feet professionally so that you can thrive within your career. This program works to enhance your confidence, communication, leadership and team building skills, so that you can return to the workforce refreshed and on point for success.
Build A Sober Life With Addiction Campuses
If you’d like to regain control over your life and beat your Adderall addiction, contact us today. Our treatment offers only the best and most compassionate, up-to-date methods of addiction treatment. Addiction Campuses can help you or a loved one regain a more balanced, sober life.Article Sources
MedlinePlus - https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601234.html
National Institute on Drug Abuse - https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/stimulant-adhd-medications-methylphenidate-amphetamines