Adderall Abuse & Addiction Treatment

Adderall is a combined form of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine that can be used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy (a sleep disorder), and for other purposes that require a stimulant medication.

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant that comes in two forms:

  • Immediate release (Adderall IR)
  • Extended-release (Adderall XR)

The IR version will result in stimulant effects that can last 4-6 hours, and the XR version typically produces effects lasting about 12 hours. Adderall has significant medicinal uses; however, it is a drug that does carry a significant risk for abuse and the development of physical dependence. As such, it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The drugs in this classification are tightly controlled and can only be legally obtained with a prescription from a physician due to their potential for abuse.

Short-Term Effects of Adderall

a woman with a handful of Ritalin

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the short-term effects of prescription stimulants including Adderall are:

  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Fast or irregular heart rate.
  • Decreased blood flow.
  • Rise in blood sugar levels.
  • Opening of the breathing passages.
  • Restlessness.
  • Anger.
  • Paranoia.
  • Symptoms of psychosis.

In very high doses, Adderall use may result in:

  • Hyperthermia (dangerously high body temperature).
  • Heart failure.
  • Seizures.

How Addictive Is Adderall?

Adderall is a DEA Schedule II controlled substances. Its Schedule II status indicates its potential for abuse and dependence. While it does have medicinal use, abuse of the drug may lead to an addiction, clinically termed a stimulant use disorder.

An addiction to a stimulant such as Adderall is seen in a person’s compulsive and uncontrollable use despite the harm it causes. If you’re worried you or someone you love is becoming addicted to Adderall, take a look at the signs of a stimulant use disorder below.

Recognizing Signs of Adderall Abuse & Stimulant Disorders

An individual who is suspected of abusing Adderall would be formally diagnosed with a stimulant use disorder. This is a serious mental health disorder that most often requires formal intervention. The signs of a stimulant use disorder as a result of Adderall abuse are outlined below.

  • The person repeatedly engages in nonmedicinal use of Adderall. Individuals with a prescription to Adderall who use it within the confines of their prescription would not be diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Anyone repeatedly using Adderall for purposes outside of its prescribed uses is demonstrating behavior consistent with abuse or addiction.
  • The person repeatedly grinds up pills and snorts them or mixes them with water and injects the solution.
  • The person displays difficulty controlling their use of Adderall. This can occur over a number of different contexts, including:
  • Repeatedly misusing the drug in spite of experiencing negative ramifications associated with use, such as relationship issues, work troubles, problems at school, financial issues, etc.
  • Giving up important activities in favor of using the drug
  • Spending lengthy amounts of time using the drug, recovering from its use, or trying to get it
  • Frequently using more of the drug than originally intended (e.g., frequently using all available Adderall in one sitting)
  • Frequent attempts to cut down or stop using Adderall that are unsuccessful
  • Continuing to use Adderall despite awareness that use is resulting in issues with psychological or physical health
  • The person frequently uses Adderall with other substances, such as alcohol, pain medications, cannabis, etc.
  • The person has strong urges to use Adderall frequently.
  • The person uses Adderall in situations where it is dangerous to do so, such as before driving a car or operating other machinery.
  • The person uses Adderall to cope with stress or improve mood.
  • The person develops tolerance to Adderall.
  • The person experiences withdrawal symptoms when they cannot use Adderall.

These disorders do not remit by themselves; most often, they require targeted interventions.

There are some other signs that might occur in addition to the ones listed above. Often, the signs below are observed before a person notices the more telling signs listed above. These include:

  • The person displays cold-like symptoms, such as a runny nose, stuffy nose, and even nosebleeds or hoarseness.
  • The person displays intermittent hyperactive behaviors, pressured and talkative speech, and a significantly decreased need to sleep that alternate with periods of lethargy, inattention, depression, irritability, etc.
  • Drug paraphernalia, such as straws, mirrors, rolled-up paper money, etc., are present.
  • Empty prescription bottles are present.
  • For individuals who have a prescription for Adderall, major signs of abuse include the need for more frequent refills, visiting different doctors to get multiple prescriptions for the drug, etc.

Dangers of Adderall Abuse

An obvious danger of abusing any drug is the development of a formal SUD. Individuals who develop SUDs are also at risk to be diagnosed with some other mental health disorder.

Research studies, such as one published in the American Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, note that the abuse of drugs like Adderall can lead to some other serious potential consequences. These include:

  • The development of cardiovascular issues due to prolonged increased blood pressure and accelerated heart rate, leading to damage that can increase the risk for heart attack or stroke
  • Complications with physical health as a result of dehydration, damage to nasal passages due to snorting the drug, poor judgment as a result of stimulant intoxication, and issues with appetite and sleep
  • Significant alterations in the central nervous system that may increase the risk for the development of neurological issues, such as seizures or other potential issues
  • An increased probability to develop issues with psychological functioning, such as hallucinations, delusions, depression (as a result of withdrawal), apathy, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, etc.
  • An increased potential to engage in risky behaviors that can be detrimental to health as a result of stimulant intoxication
  • Risk for potential overdose with escalating abuse

The development of a substance use disorder as a result of Adderall abuse is a serious issue.  Treatment for these disorders should only be delivered by licensed, trained, mental health clinicians.

Who Abuses Adderall?

Anyone can abuse Adderall but often the drug is abuse by teens and young adults in a misguided attempt to use the stimulant to improve their academic or athletic performance, according to NIDA. In general, the misuse of Adderall is more common among college students than their non-college peers. Among college students, Adderall abuse occurs more often among men than women. However, among young adults not in college, rates of abuse are higher in women than in men.

Adderall abuse is not limited to young people, however. Per NIDA, older adults will sometimes abuse Adderall and other prescription stimulants as a way to try and improve their memory.

Effects of Adderall Withdrawal

Withdrawal from Adderall and other prescription stimulants may result in symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue.
  • Vivid nightmares.
  • Depression.
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Slowed heart rate.

How Long Is Adderall Withdrawal?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), Adderall withdrawal will generally begin within a few hours to several days after a person ends or significantly cuts back on their use.

While stimulant withdrawal is not usually physically dangerous in the way that withdrawal from alcohol or sedatives is, it can be psychologically dangerous, as depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts may arise during this period. While most physical symptoms will require just several days of rest and recuperation, amphetamine-related withdrawal depression can persist for months, per the American Society of Addiction Medicine,

Adderall Addiction Treatment

An Adderall addiction can leave your life unmanageable and can wreck your physical health. We can help. We offer intensive treatment, beginning with medical detox, so that you can safely get sober under medical and psychiatric supervision. During inpatient treatment, you’ll have the opportunity to evaluate the impact of substance use on your life, uncover the underlying contributors to your Adderall use, and learn the skills necessary to beginning and maintaining a life in recovery.

For questions about health insurance coverage or for more information on our Adderall addiction programs, search inpatient drug rehab facility or call us now at . We are always here to talk to you, any time of the day or night.

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