Adderall is meant to improve focus and concentration in people diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Because it’s a stimulant for the central nervous system, Adderall can create the same effects on people who don’t have ADHD.

Taking Adderall for ADHD can have a positive impact, but using it for recreational purposes can lead to dangerous side effects.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant that affects a person similarly to meth. That said, can you be addicted to Adderall? Though not everyone who uses it will develop a dependency, regularly using Adderall at an unprescribed dose is a significant risk factor for addiction.

Adderall increases the norepinephrine and dopamine levels in a person’s central nervous system. Norepinephrine governs how the brain reacts to events; in particular, it affects how the brain pays attention and how quickly it responds to external stimuli. On the other hand, dopamine is the brain’s “feel good” chemical; it occurs naturally, but stimulants like Adderall unnaturally produce high levels of it, creating an urge to use it again later.

When someone becomes addicted to Adderall, their brain is dependent on the drug to feel alert and productive. Without the chemical it craves, the brain feels foggy and exhausted instead. These are common symptoms of withdrawal, a strong indicator of addiction.

Other common signs of addiction to Adderall include:

  • Needing bigger doses to feel the same level of effects
  • Inability to finish work without using Adderall
  • Spending lots of money and time acquiring, using, and recovering from Adderall
  • Expressing a desire to cut back on using but failing to do so
  • Inability to feel alert and productive without Adderall
  • Neglecting important activities in order to use more stimulants
  • Using Adderall despite awareness of the harm it causes
  • Dealing with withdrawal symptoms

Nobody tries to become addicted to drugs. Most drug problems start as a means to increase productivity after a hard day at school or work. Some may even fake ADHD symptoms so their doctor will prescribe them Adderall. Eventually, these people become addicted to the drug and prioritize its use above all else.

Adderall Dependency vs. Adderall Addiction

Dependency is an expected physiological response to taking a prescribed medication like Adderall. A person develops a physical dependency because of how the chemicals interact in the body, but there is no psychological dependency when taking the drug as intended; the person isn’t abusing dosages to achieve a “high.” Still, while they may need medical assistance to wean off Adderall safely, people with a dependency aren’t mentally obsessing over the next time they get to use it.

Adderall addiction usually occurs when someone has a psychological reliance on the stimulant. These folks are often unable to manage withdrawal and will do whatever they can to get more to relieve their symptoms. Using more Adderall becomes a person’s priority when they are addicted to it. They may run out of a prescription early because they’re using too much of it at once, leading to withdrawal and an increased desire to find more. Obsessive thinking can be an indication that a person needs Adderall addiction help.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Adderall

It can be challenging to recognize when someone abuses Adderall. People often misuse Adderall due to its potent stimulating effects, including increased productivity and enhanced alertness. Although anyone can become addicted and need Adderall rehab, many are motivated individuals like young professionals and students.

Classic signs of Adderall abuse can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Social withdrawal
  • Being overly talkative
  • Secretive behavior
  • Aggression
  • Unusual excitability
  • Exhaustion
  • Sleeping for a long time
  • Memory loss
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Financial difficulties
  • Incomplete thoughts
  • A decline in personal hygiene
  • Frequent use of pills
  • Running out of prescriptions too early
  • Over-concentrating or overworking
  • Relationship problems
  • Mania
  • Impulsive behaviors
  • Disorientation

Dangers and Side Effects

It’s common to believe that abusing Adderall is safe because the drug comes from a doctor, especially because children can take it. The truth is that Adderall is a potent stimulant with the capacity to cause severe side effects, including death. Overdosing on Adderall can lead to stroke, heart attack, or liver failure. Using Adderall with another substance like alcohol further increases the risk of dying from an overdose.

Using Adderall for a prolonged period can also cause physical changes in a person’s neurocircuitry. Rewriting the brain can lead to altered behaviors and introduce new disorders like depression. Some long-term Adderall addicts may even become suicidal without receiving Adderall addiction help.

Adderall Abuse Can Be Fatal 

Snorting Adderall is a standard method for those seeking immediate effects. Instead of taking their pills orally, these folks will crush them into a fine powder and sniff the powder into the sinus cavity. The “high” is more intense, but snorting the drug leads to other side effects, such as damage to the sinus and nasal cavities.

Certain users will even attempt to inject Adderall into their veins to get a more robust “high” experience as the chemical goes directly to the bloodstream. This method may do what a person believes, but it is also a risky way that is more likely to lead to a fatal overdose. Athletes on Adderall have died from cardiac arrest and heat stroke due to increased blood pressure. These dangers have directly influenced the decision to ban amphetamines in the Olympics since 1968.

Side effects of Adderall abuse can include:

  • Paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Convulsions
  • Hallucination
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • False sense of well-being
  • Constipation
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Loss or lack of strength
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Seizures
  • Twitching
  • Peeling skin

Recognizing Adderall Addiction

From 2002 to 2012, prescriptions for Adderall increased nearly fivefold, making it much easier for anyone to get pills from a relative or friend. Compared to other drugs, Adderall isn’t really stigmatized; few people recognize when someone they know has an addiction to the stimulant.

Not everyone who improperly uses Adderall suffers from an addiction. Taking an occasional pill from time to time to increase productivity or stay awake isn’t the same as requiring the drug for day-to-day living. The key to understanding when your loved one has an addiction is recognizing certain behaviors.

People who struggle with an Adderall addiction prioritize using the drug above all else because they cannot be productive without it. They have little control over the number of pills they take and may begin ignoring important familial or social obligations.

Intervention and What to Do

Staging an intervention with a professional is an excellent way to persuade someone with an Adderall addiction to seek help. Although it may seem like a drastic step for some to take, an intervention has the power to save lives. Too often, people with an addiction aren’t aware that they have a problem.

One problem that some long-term Adderall users tend to move onto other drugs like meth or cocaine. If your loved one has a polydrug addiction, it’s even more crucial to get them treated before they hurt themselves.

An intervention is a carefully planned meeting that includes an addicted person’s loved ones. A professional specialist can help outline the possible consequences if the relative does not want to seek treatment. It’s essential to plan for the worst because some people addicted to Adderall may become self-destructive or violent.

Importance of Professional Treatment

Adderall withdrawal symptoms make it challenging for users to quit without any help. If a person tries to quit “cold turkey,” they’ll essentially experience the opposite effects that the drug produces, including loss of concentration, fatigue, and an unusually slow heartbeat.

Attempting to treat an addiction to a stimulant on your own can be dangerous and should be done with medical supervision. The initial detox stage can be too intense to handle without professional assistance. By seeking treatment at a licensed facility, it is possible to minimize the dangers of withdrawal symptoms to wean off a drug without shocking the body.

Professional Adderall Addiction Help 

Drug addiction is based on other factors aside from physical dependency, which is why it’s essential to understand what caused the addiction to begin with. Working with a counselor can help a person learn healthier coping methods to use when they come across former triggers.

At a licensed Adderall rehab facility, the treatment professionals will create an individualized treatment plan for every patient; they understand that there is more involved in addiction treatment than simply stopping using the chemical. All addictions are intertwined with personal issues in someone’s life, and stopping Adderall does not make these issues disappear. It’s essential to examine all parts of a person’s life to create the best treatment plan to help them stay sober for years to come.

Harmony Ridge Recovery Center Can Help You Overcome Addiction

Every patient at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center receives an individualized treatment plan based on their physical, mental, and spiritual needs. Our staff combines 24-hour medical care with evidence-based therapies to help countless individuals struggling with addictions to Adderall and other stimulants. Contact us today to find out more.