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Adderall addiction: everything you should know

Adderall does not cause addiction in individuals who really need it as long as they follow the dosage directions provided by the doctor. But this medicine has a dark side as it has become a well-known drug of abuse.

With easy access to Adderall in the medicine cabinets of family or friends and illegal sale on the Internet and on the street, people without a medical need for the drug may take it in high and dangerous doses. Why is this medication now being craved by the masses?

Why Adderall is Prescribed

Adderall is a prescription medication with the active ingredients of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine mixed salts. These ingredients cause hyper-stimulation throughout the brain and nervous system. People who use it report feeling full of energy, strong, and self-assured. Because of these benefits, the question “Why Adderall is more dangerous than you may think ?” falls by the wayside.

Doctors prescribe Adderall for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as increases the ability to focus. The medicine is also used to treat narcolepsy as it helps to calm down, maintain attention, and avoid excessive sleepiness. Sometimes people with severe depression and sleep disorders also take Adderall.

Is Adderall a Narcotic?

From a medical standpoint, Adderall is a stimulant medication and not a narcotic. It increases heart rate and blood pressure, boosts energy, enhances alertness, and helps maintain wakefulness.

However, Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug with the potential for abuse and addiction. That’s why it is not advisable to use this medicine inappropriately without a prescription.

Who Has the Highest Risk for Adderall Abuse and Addiction?

So, Adderall is addictive when taken at levels higher than those specified in a doctor’s prescription. That is how Adderall addiction can develop.

Often, people take this medicine for inappropriate goals without a prescription. One study revealed that more than half of 10,000 college students who take Adderall or other ADHD drug prescriptions were asked to give or sell their medication to friends and peers.

Statistically, the following groups of people are most likely to abuse Adderall and develop addiction:

  • High school and college students use this so-called “study drug” to cope with academic pressure. It can boost study efficiency (due to better focus, concentration, and memory) and recreation.
  • Working professionals in high-stress jobs use Adderall to avoid burn out as it can increase energy levels and motivation.
  • Athletes take it to enhance physical performance and cope with fatigue and pain.
  • People with social anxiety turn to the stimulant in order to gain confidence and improve social skills.
  • Individuals with eating disorders use it to suppress appetite and reach rapid weight loss.
  • Some people just chase euphoric effects. They buy the medicine on the black market to get an Adderall high.

Adderall use is prevalent among youth. There’s even such a term as “Adderall generation” – the 18-25-year age range most likely to misuse this medication. The term came from the Netflix documentary “Take Your Pills”. It exposures the widespread, yet unpublicized, amphetamines use by students, athletes, and people of some professions. Watch it if you want to know how Adderall addiction can develop.

Is it worth it?

At first, it can seem OK. You’re in a good mood, full of energy and are as productive as a bee. Besides, Adderall is even prescribed for children. How can it cause any harm?

You may want to know why Adderall is more dangerous than you may think. The truth is that taking Adderall without a prescription and medical supervision not only does more harm than good, but it also does not even provide enough “good” to justify the use.

An interesting study on this subject was conducted by scientists from the University of Rhode Island in 2017. The researchers found out that prescription stimulants do not significantly improve attention, memory, and executive function (it includes calculation, decision-making, planning, and verbal fluency) of people who haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD. They concluded that the cognitive benefits people report when taking stimulants maybe just a placebo effect.

And here is why Adderall is more dangerous than you may think. Adderall contains many side effects, for example:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Agitation and sometimes anger
  • Reduced appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased libido
  • Urination pains
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • The irregular or faster heartbeat
  • Shaking.

The most severe long-term effects of Adderall abuse are:

  • Violent or aggressive behavior
  • Paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Heart problems
  • Tremors or worsening of Tourette's Syndrome
  • Overdose and death.

Recognizing Stimulant Addiction

Is Adderall physically addictive? Yes, a person who abuses Adderall can develop tolerance to it. He/she may experience cravings and withdrawal symptoms if he/she abruptly stops using it. The signs that someone may be addicted to Adderall (or another stimulant) are:

  • Taking pills without a prescription for non-medical reasons;
  • Taking higher or more frequent doses than prescribed;
  • Unexplained physical symptoms – side-effects described above;
  • Rapid unexplained weight loss;
  • The ability to go days without sleep;
  • The need to increase the doses to feel the same effect;
  • Being unable to study or work without it;
  • Snorting or smoking the drug to reach a faster high;
  • Continuing to use Adderall despite negative effects and consequences;
  • Buying the drug from dealers or other unlawful sources;
  • Spending excessive sums of money on Adderall.

How to Help Overcome Adderall Addiction?

There are 4 steps of treatment of stimulant use disorder and addiction:

  1. A doctor’s consultation. Intervention by a trained therapist will help the person admit they have a problem.
  2. Detoxification. The drug leaves the body in about three days. The symptoms of Adderall withdrawal can be rough. So, detox should be performed under medical supervision. A drug rehab center is a right place for having a detox.
  3. Enrolling into a rehab. Going into a drug rehab facility may not seem exciting. But when things go out of control, there is no better way to cope with this problem. Treatment programs usually include psychotherapy (behavioral counseling that teaches coping strategies and life skills to battle addiction) and addressing co-occurring mental health issues. Depending on the severity and duration of addiction, a person may be recommended to choose either an outpatient or inpatient type of treatment program.
  4. Long-term follow-up. Visiting scheduled post-treatment consultations or participation in NA (Narcotics Anonymous) contribute to the long-term abstinence.

Think twice before taking Adderall or another stimulant. Stick with coffee or other healthy alternatives and leave the pharmaceuticals to those who really need them.

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or management of EconoTimes.

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