What is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (sleep disorder). Adderall, a brand name, is an amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, a central nervous system (brain and spinal column) stimulant. Taking Adderall may help increase the ability to focus, pay attention, and control behavior.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) , prescription drugs such as Adderall increase the brain’s chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. Adderall mainly stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, triggering the body’s “fight or flight” responses. Adderall side effects include pupil dilation, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and increased sweating.
One of the significant Adderall side effects is addiction, increasing the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the body’s natural feel-good chemical and is strongly associated with reward and pleasure. Norepinephrine affects blood vessels, blood pressure and heart rate, blood sugar, and breathing. Psychoactive drugs misuse can lead to a substance use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases, even when used as prescribed by a doctor.
Uses of Adderall
Adderall is a psychoactive stimulant medication that comes in short-acting (Adderall) and long-acting (Adderall XR) dosage forms. The short-acting version is FDA-approved to treat ADHD and narcolepsy , while the long-acting version is approved for ADHD only. Both versions are classified as Schedule II controlled substances, which means they have a high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction . Individuals who have not prescribed Adderall sometimes abuse the medications, wanting to use it for weight loss or increased focus and attention.
Adderall has different effects on someone with ADHD and someone without ADHD. This drug improves attention and alertness in people with ADHD as it increases the amount of dopamine available in the brain. Adderall use in an individual without ADHD releases an excess amount of dopamine in the brain, causing the person to feel high. In addition to feelings of euphoria, an individual can experience dangerous physical and emotional side effects.
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Addiction To Adderall
Adderall is an addictive prescription stimulant with effects similar to Meth or speed drugs . Because of its accessibility and potency, the risk of Adderall abuse and addiction is high. Although not everyone who uses this drug will develop an addiction, people regularly taking it at unprescribed doses are at a higher risk of becoming addicted.
Over time, those who habitually use Adderall may develop a tolerance to these medications. Tolerance is linked with physiological dependence, and it happens when someone requires more and more of this drug to achieve effects previously experienced at lower doses —even to the point of overdose and death.
The brain of an addicted person is dependent on Adderall to stimulate productivity and alertness. Without this drug, addicted individuals often feel mentally foggy and tired. These are symptoms of Adderall withdrawal, which is a strong sign of an addiction to these drugs.
Common signs of an Adderall addiction include:
- Not being able to finish work without Adderall
- Needing larger doses to feel the drug’s effects
- Neglecting other activities in favor of using Adderall
- Want to cut down on use but not have the ability to do so
- Being unable to feel alert without the drug
- Taking the drug despite knowledge of the harm it’s causing
- Spending a lot of time and money getting, using, and recovering fromthe drug
- Suffering withdrawal symptoms when not using Adderall
No one intends to become addicted to Adderall. Typically, the problem begins as a way of increasing productivity on a stressful day at work or studying for an important exam. Some individuals even fake the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to get their own prescription for the drug.
Adderall Side Effects on the Brain
People who want to get a lot of work done in a short period of time might turn to this drug for a quick boost to their concentration and memory. The real cause for concern when it comes to amphetamine and Adderall is its effects on sleep and appetite.
Not sleeping can enhance the drug’s psychotic effects, leading to displays of paranoia or psychosis, for instance. And not eating negatively impacts health. Some people also tend to mix drinking alcohol with Adderall use, which can cause problems.
Long-term use of this drug at high doses can cause significant Adderall side effects, including changes in how the brain produces neurotransmitters. Many of these Adderall side effects may be reversible once the person stops taking Adderall. However, some Adderall side effects, such as heart damage, may not improve over time.
Adderall Side Effects on the Body
These side effects of Adderall on the body can manifest even in someone who is taking the drug as prescribed, so it is good to be aware of them. Obvious abuse, including overdose of this drug and other psychoactive drugs, can result in much more serious Adderall side effects that can be life-threatening in some cases. One should never assume a drug is somehow “safe” to use in any quantity or conditions simply because it’s prescribed.
If you or a loved one take Adderall and experience any of the Adderall side effects listed above or below, talk to your doctor about them as soon as you can. One should know the answer to the question “what are Adderall side effects” before taking it. They may be a sign that more serious adverse effects are on the way.
Here are a few of the more serious consequences of Adderall misuse:
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Wide pupils and blurry vision
- Panic attacks
- Fainting or loss of consciousness
- Stomach cramps
- Restlessness and irritability
- Cardiac arrest
Adderall Side Effects on People Without ADHD
Because Adderall is designed to help the brains of people with ADHD, misusing the drug may increase the risk of Adderall’s side effects. People without ADHD taking high doses of Adderall can result in more severe consequences, including cardiovascular issues. In addition, when someone dependent on this drug stops taking it, they can feel hazy, lazy, and sad.
Psychological and physical Adderall side effects may include:
- Decreased, or non-existent, appetite
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Insomnia or diminished sleep
- Hostility and aggression
- Paranoia and anxiety
- Sadness and mood swings
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Common Adderall Side Effects
When taken at typical doses by someone struggling with ADHD, Adderall doesn’t usually cause a feeling of being high.
Some people who take Adderall may undergo feelings of being focused, energetic, excited, or self-confident. Feelings of euphoria also sometimes happen. These Adderall side effects are more likely when the drug is abused.
Headache is one of the most common Adderall side effects. It may happen in up to 26 percent of individuals who took Adderall XR. This Adderall side effect may subside with continued use of the drug.
Nausea is also a common Adderall side effect. In some studies, nausea happened in 5 percent to 8 percent of people taking this drug. This side effect may decrease with continued use of the drug.
Most men who use Adderall don’t experience erectile dysfunction, but some report being less interested in sex. If you experience this side effect and it doesn’t go away, talk with your doctor.
Men who abuse amphetamines such as Adderall may experience erectile dysfunction as well as decreases in sexual desire.
Constipation is a very common Adderall side effect. In some research, constipation occurred in 2 percent to 4 percent of individuals who took Adderall XR.
Some individuals who use Adderall have described hair loss. However, it’s not clear how often this happens or if Adderall was the cause of this effect.
Symptoms of psychosis, including agitation, hallucinations, or disordered thinking, are a rare Adderall side effect. In some instances, these symptoms have happened in individuals taking typical, recommended doses of the drug.
Symptoms of psychosis are more likely to happen in people who have a history of psychosis before they start taking Adderall. They’re also more common in people who abuse the drug.
Adderall XR commonly causes dry mouth in up to 35 percent of individuals who take it. T
Some individuals who take Adderall record increased sweating. This seems to happen in about 2 percent to 4 percent of individuals taking Adderall XR.
Insomnia, or trouble sleeping, is one of the most common Adderall side effects. As much as 27 percent of people who use Adderall XR may have insomnia.
Someone with a healthy heart doesn’t usually have chest pain while taking this drug. If you do, it might mean that you have a heart condition.
Fatigue may happen in 2 percent to 4 percent of people who take Adderall XR is commonly prescribed dosages. Fatigue may be more common in people who abuse Adderall, especially in higher doses. Also, people who have become dependent on Adderall can experience extreme fatigue if they stop taking the drug.
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Overdose of this drug may happen if someone is using a prescription amphetamine recreationally while also taking other medications or drugs. These drugs can interact with antidepressants, blood pressure medications, cold or allergy medications, and antacids. Some individuals also experiment by mixing Adderall and alcohol, which can lead to alcohol poisoning, coma, or lethal overdose.
Signs of an Overdose
- Rapid breathing
- Stomach pain
- Heart attack
- Fever of 106.7 or higher
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
In addition to Adderall side effects, there are also debilitating symptoms that result from the discontinuation of its use and a resulting withdrawal period:
- Low energy
- Inability to focus
- Dry mouth
- Body aches
- Mood swings
- Overwhelming anxiety/panic attacks
- Uncontrollable crying
- Short-term memory loss
- Intense cravings
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Adderall Withdrawal Detox and Treatment
A qualified treatment center can monitor a person addicted to Adderall through detox, ensuring withdrawal symptoms are safely managed. Adderall detox often includes a taper-down strategy. This helps gradually expel the drug from the body to reduce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as depression and fatigue.
A doctor should always be involved in an Adderall detox process. Uncomfortable Adderall side effects can take hold if a person quits the drug too fast. A doctor can set up a tapering schedule, typically lasting a few weeks or a few months, so a person can get sober safely.
Steps in Adderall Detox
- With the help of a medical professional, set up a slow weaning schedule.
- Seek emotional support and guidance from a mental health professional during detox.
- Keep busy to distract from drug cravings.
- Maintain a healthy eating and sleeping schedule, and take all prescribed medications or supplements.
- Attend support groups, meetings, counseling sessions, family therapy, and aftercare programs.
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The inpatient treatment approach works best as it aims to change the person’s behaviors. Also, help them establish social support systems and better methods of coping with stress. A person will likely experience many different Adderall side effects from their drug use. These side effects may be physical, emotional, or mental. For instance, someone in Adderall withdrawal will likely experience many uncomfortable feelings and negative thoughts about life during the process of detox.
Unfortunately for those with dependency, detox is an unavoidable first step of treatment towards recovery. Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment.
We Level Up NJ provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to medically assist your recovery through our Adderall Treatment Program. So, reclaim your life, call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
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 NIDA – https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants
 FDA – https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/011522s040lbl.pdf
 DEA – https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/
 SAMHSA – https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_3210/ShortReport-3210.pdf