Adderall (prescription Amphetamine) is a stimulant prescribed for treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and a sleep disorder known as narcolepsy. However, the misuse and abuse of the medication led to adderall addiction in more than 1 million young Americans between the ages of 18-25. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), this is one of the most frequently abused stimulants.
Many of those addicted began using the stimulant as teenagers or young adults who wanted to improve their academic, job, or athletic performance. This is because the drug has the ability to boost energy, mood, and concentration while reducing sleepiness and fatigue for an extended period of time.
Addiction to Adderall
Addiction, or substance use disorder, is generally described as the habit of compulsively seeking and using drugs or alcohol regardless of the consequences. The disorder affects the brain. It distorts thinking and good judgment making it extremely difficult for you to quit using. The long-term effects of this prescription stimulant on the brain is no different.
Dextroamphetamine and amphetamine are the two active ingredients in the drug that make it potentially addictive. Addiction may begin by misusing it for recreational purposes. As tolerance level builds, you find yourself taking the medication more frequently and in larger doses. Once you get “hooked,” enough is never enough. This cycle will continue until you receive professional treatment for Adderall abuse.
How Adderall Causes Addiction
This drug has the ability to cause addiction not only because it is potent but also because it is known to produce a “high’ similar to when crack cocaine is used. It essentially acts on the central nervous system causing the release of two chemicals called dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is a neurochemical that produces a sense of euphoria. It also has a longer half-life, meaning it stays in the body longer than other prescription stimulants, e.g., Ritalin. It, therefore, poses a greater risk of dependency.
Those who misuse and abuse the stimulant are mainly seeking the euphoria and energy boosting effects. Some persons say it makes them feel “powerful,” “confident,” or “invincible.” As tolerance level builds, you will need larger quantities of the drug to give the level of “high” you used to get from smaller doses. This happens when the natural release of dopamine in the brain declines, forcing you to keep using the drug to feel good, think, and function normally.
Symptoms of Adderall Addiction
Drug abuse affects the body and the brain and causes certain physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms to develop. Although addiction can be properly diagnosed at a treatment center, if you or a loved one manifest the following symptoms or side effects it could be linked to abuse of this stimulant:
- Strong cravings
- Dry mouth
- Feeling invincible or “larger than life”
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate or blood pressure
- Reduced sex drive
- Nervousness, panic, irritability
- Euphoric high followed by a “crash”
- Sleepiness, lethargy, or “brain fog” once the drug wears off
- Using drugs prescribed to someone else
- Illegally buying the drug
- Crushing the tablet to inhale snort, smoke, or inject into a vein
- Continuing use despite the harmful effects
- Being highly or unusually sociable
- Denying the addiction
- Aggression or hostility
- Stealing or borrowing money to finance the habit
- Possessing drug abuse paraphernalia, eg., a mortar, and pestle or a heating device
- Trying to get prescriptions from different doctors (“doctor shopping”)
- Racing thoughts
- Fearful of not getting the drug in the future
- Preoccupation with thoughts of finding and using more of the drug
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal means to reduce drug intake or stop using altogether. Unbearable withdrawal symptoms can make it difficult to quit using this drug. Furthermore, trying to quit on your own, “cold turkey,” is dangerous and should be avoided. Withdrawal symptoms typically start about 24-72 hours after the last dose and can last a few days, weeks, or months. The severity of the symptoms may vary from person to person but generally include these:
- Extreme hunger
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Agitation or irritability
- Suicidal thoughts
Adderall Addiction Treatment
Getting comprehensive treatment at a rehab facility offers you the best chance at recovering and staying sober. Taking this step is important as it will give you an opportunity to get the drug out of your system (detox) and treat any mental health disorder linked to drug abuse (therapy).
If you leave the detox center without going through this second major phase of addiction treatment, you will likely go right back into substance abuse. In fact, the National Institue on Drug Abuse says there is a 40-60 percent chance of relapse in those who underwent treatment. This underscores the importance of getting all the information, skills, and tool to combat substance use triggers once you return to your normal environment.
Withdrawing from drug abuse is effective when you are gradually tapered off the drug as opposed to winging it “cold turkey.” Gradual weaning is part of the process of detoxification. Medical assistance is sometimes necessary in cases of long-term abuse or where other substances such as alcohol, marijuana, or cocaine are involved.
Detoxing at a treatment facility allows you to receive medical assistance to help you manage unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. You may be administered drugs such as anti-depressants to help manage severe physiological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, panic attack, or severe mood swings.
Anxiety disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders are some common mental health problems that co-occur with drug abuse. Where they exist, they must be treated after you are stabilized and lose the desire to seek and use drugs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of mental health treatment that is primarily conducted by a therapist at rehab.
The primary goal of CBT is to help you to understand why you abuse drugs. This sets the stage for you to undergo behavioral modification where you will choose healthier coping mechanisms, e.g., art, exercise, meditation, or even talking with a trusted friend. Your list of coping tools will be your arsenal to combat the urges to seek and use drugs.
Relapse prevention planning, also done during treatment, will help you to construct a support network of people such as family members, recovering peers, and therapist. These are the people you will be expected to turn to for encouragement and motivation to manage substance use triggers.
310 Recovery Can Help You Overcome Adderall Abuse
310 Recovery provides a safe and structured, environment for you to receive addiction treatment. Our certified and trained medical and mental health professionals are compassionate and will give you the best service required to get past addiction. We offer a range of residential and outpatient programs designed to help you overcome this problem and return to a life of sobriety. Call today to find how we can help meet your recovery needs.