Adderall can make you feel like a superhuman, but there are some harsh realities associated with the drug.
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What You Need to Know About Adderall
Adderall is a psycho-stimulant that contains amphetamine salts. Adderall comes as a tablet to be ingested orally with doses ranging from 5 to 30 milligrams. Some people looking for immediate effects may crush up their tablets and snort. It acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system and increases energy levels.
Adderall mimics feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine by binding to receptors that would normally respond to those hormones. Research shows the drug also blocks chemicals that temper reward-based responses, meaning the high continues till the effects wear off.
At the same time, Adderall provokes some of the same reactions as the fight-or-flight chemical epinephrine, indicates research from the University of Vermont. There is a rush of energy and clarity, Diller says, which focuses your attention and quiets your appetite.
The drug adderall is prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but people without ADD have found many other uses for the drug. Adderall is commonly used on college campuses as a study or test aid. It’s used by many amateur and professional athletes to improve their game performances and it’s used recreationally to produce a high that’s similar to cocaine. Obviously these are just a few examples of adderall abuse.
Adderall will heighten your senses and sharpen your focus. It has unquestionable benefits in enhancing performance in many areas.
The Adderall brand was introduced in 1996, and consists of a mixture of 2 different molecular structures of amphetamine. In 2006, an extended release formulation, Adderall XR was approved for release. Additionally, It is a schedule II controlled substance. Other Schedule II drugs include Vicodin, cocaine, OxyContin, and Ritalin. According to the DEA, Schedule II drugs are considered dangerous because they have a high potential for abuse and severe drug dependence. Because Adderall has medical legitimacy, it is legal only for those with a prescription.
Quitting Adderall – Why is it so Addictive?
Adderall can affect a person’s cognitive function. Since adderall imbues dopamine and other neurotransmitters into the brain, overstimulation can occur. First we have to understand the difference between addiction and dependence.
The reason why coming off of adderall is so difficult is because the body becomes dependent on the drug. This means that the drug is regulating chemicals that your organs (in this case the brain) would normally be responsible for. Once you stop, the brain needs time to self regulate. This come down feeling can be described as a “crash.”
In the brain, amphetamine binds to trace amine-associated receptor 1 and vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2). Though the effects of this binding on neurons are fairly complex, the end result is to increase the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in the synaptic cleft similarly to methylphenidate and other stimulants. Additionally, amphetamine increases synaptic levels of other neurotransmitters such as serotonin, histamine, epinephrine.
Many people believe Adderall is “safe” due to being prescribed by doctors. However, continued abuse can lead to long-term side effects and when one crosses the line from abuse to addiction, the cycle can be hard to break.
Individuals can abuse Adderall because it can produce feelings of confidence, euphoria, and increase concentration. It can additionally suppress appetite and result in weight loss. The effects made the drug a go-to choice for anyone looking for a boost in physical as well as mental performance.
However, many people who are in the process of quitting adderall will report being in bed for days. The physical withdrawal symptoms are not the same as alcohol or opiates, but the physiological withdrawal can be debilitating.
That’s not to say that there are not physical withdrawal symptoms associated with adderall, but many would report the psychological effects to be the most painful and demoralizing.
Adderall is also mentally addictive. When people become accustomed to performing on such a high level with use of the drug, not using the drug can lead to inadequacy and depression. For those who have experience with adderall abuse, you can probably attest first hand as to feeling “lost” without the drug to help you get through the day.
Drugs like adderall, ritalin, and concerta are categorized into the same class known as “study drugs.” This refers the stimulants effects of enhancing aspects of a user’s mental functioning such as:
The problem with Adderall is it makes you feel like an enhanced version of yourself, like the person you wish you could be. Without it, I have to do this thing call self-motivate, and who wants to do that?!?
Short-Term effects of Adderall
Those who take prescribed Adderall can experience the following benefits:
- Increased focus and concentration
- Increased mood level
- Increased alertness and cognitive function
- Reduction of hyperactivity
- Decreased exhaustion
However, there are an increased number of negative short-term side effects that can happen to the user as well including:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Stomach ache
- Back pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Sleeping difficulties
- Mood swings
Long-Term Effects of Adderall
In addition to the short-term effects, it can also harm the body in the long run. Adderall is a strong stimulant that can lead to serious — and potentially deadly — side effects. Overdose is one of the worst side effects of Adderall abuse, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and liver failure. Taking Adderall with other substances, such as alcohol, heighten the risk of a fatal overdose.Some of the effects associated with Adderall may include but are not limited to:
- Cardiac arrest
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cardiac dysrhythmias
- Necrotizing vasculitis
- Sudden death
Signs of Adderall Addiction
Though it is certainly possible, most often those who abuse Adderall do not look like stereotypical drug users. Generally they are students and young professionals. Some additional signs to look for when spotting an adderall addiction can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Overly talkative
- Social withdrawal
- Secretive behavior
- Financial trouble
- Long periods of sleep
- Fearful of not having Adderall
When a person mixes two or more drugs for nonmedical reasons, it is defined as polydrug abuse.
Although Adderall is abused among thousands of people for performance-enhancing reasons, it is also abused for purely recreational reasons; in these instances, it may be mixed with other drugs, most commonly alcohol.
Users who use the drug as for recreational purposes, have a severe risk of complications by mixing it with alcohol. Adderall disguises common signs of alcohol consumption like slurred speech and lethargy. While someone is on the drug, it is common to experience alcohol poisoning without noticing the warning signs. Additional properties that adderall and alcohol have in common are:
- Adderall and alcohol both have dehydrating properties which can lead to dangerous risks.
- Alcohol is a depressant which can further enhance psychogical issues associated with withdrawal from adderall.
Mixing drugs like Adderall and opiates or benzodiazapines may additionally increase the risk of temporary psychosis, which can result in self-harm or harm to others. This can also cause severe sleep deprivation and behavioral changes can cause a person to break bones, experience a concussion, have an accident or indulge in risky sexual behavior, resulting in contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
A recent study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that, between 2006 and 2011, non-medical abuse of Adderall among adolescents and young adults, ages 18-25, went up over 67 percent; emergency room treatment and admissions for Adderall overdose rose over 155 percent; and half of those ER admissions involved Adderall and alcohol.
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
Adderall is a powerfully-addictive drug. The more adderall is used, the more will be required to achieve the desired effects. This is called developing a tolerance. People who are trying to quit cold turkey may find that quitting adderall is very hard without help, because the psychological withdrawal symptoms can be intense and lead right back to drug use.
See also: Withdrawal Effects of Methamphetamine.
People who try to quit adderall may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:
- lack of energy
- difficulty experiencing pleasure
- intense cravings
- suicidal thoughts
- sleep disturbances
Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Taking prescription drugs for non-medical reasons is just has risky as taking illicit substances like cocaine. An Adderall overdose can be recognized by a range of symptoms. Because Adderall is a stimulant, signs of an overdose include:
- Restlessness or tremors.
- Twitching or spasms.
- Fast breathing.
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
- Unusually high or low blood pressure
- Stomach cramps.
Adderall overdoses can be life-threatening and should be treated by a trained professional. If you or someone you know is experiencing an Adderall overdose, call 911 immediately.
The Real Problem with Adderall
Here is what the warning labels don’t tell you…
Adderall is one of the most over prescribed drugs on the market. With such neurological improvements provided by the drug, you may be wondering why anyone would stop using adderall at all.
Rest assured, it is not as fun as it sounds. Adderall will seriously curb your appetite. Eating is almost impossible. Even if you feel like you are hungry, it is very difficult to chew and swallow food. Many will report an immediate gag reflex while using the drug.
Weight loss, lack of sleep and constant irritability will catch up to an abuser very quickly. For those who take the drug as prescribed, weight loss is still very common. Eventually the side effects of the drug become very uncomfortable in every day life.
You begin to lose your identity and fears of inadequacy will take over. Users may report that without the drug, they feel incapable of every day tasks. When using more frequently than prescribed, it is common that stealing and illegal purchasing of adderall will take place.
This may sound like a dramatization, but these side effects are very real and life altering.
Adderall has been officially banned by major professional sports organizations, including the National Football League (NFL) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) due to their problematic effects. However, players may receive legitimate prescriptions for the drug if they need it as a treatment for ADHD, which is a therapeutic use exemption. Unfortunately, it is possible that, like college students, athletes who truly need Adderall divert the drug to their teammates or that some players doctor shop for prescriptions.
Emergency-room visits for people 18 to 34 due to nonmedical stimulant use tripled from 2005 to 2011. Additionally, FDA warnings that Adderall, Ritalin, and other prescription stimulants are addictive and can have potentially dangerous side effects also haven’t deterred doctors from prescribing them. Four years after a 2004 FDA advisory about possible cardiac risks, doctors hadn’t significantly changed the way they prescribed stimulants.
One survey of undergraduates found that only 2% thought using Adderall was “very dangerous.” Students told researchers that Adderall was “not a drug” but instead “a study tool.” Others compared it to drugs like cocaine and said Adderall was “kinda the opposite” since they used to be better at school and it was perfectly safe since doctors prescribe it.
How to Quit Adderall Once and for Good
If you want to quit Adderall, you should always consult a doctor before you do so. You may need to taper down your usage to avoid severer withdrawal symptoms. If you are going to try quitting on your own, it is always recommended to tell someone and have a support system set up.
Quitting abruptly can have serious consequences.
Rather than try to quit adderall on your own, it is always recommended that you taper off of the drug within a detox facility. In detox you will have the help of medical professionals. Your health will be monitored, and you may be prescribed medicine to help ease the withdrawal symptoms. While there are no specific medications approved for the treatment of stimulant dependence, the use of antidepressants, anti-anxiety, or other mood-stabilizing medications may be helpful during detox and treatment for Adderall withdrawal, as they can serve to minimize some of the significant psychological symptoms of stimulant withdrawal.
We are always here to help. The Sober Nation hotline will provide you with free resources. 866-207-7436.
With treatment, it is entirely possible for someone to have a healthy and successful life without adderall.
Treatment for Adderall Addiction
A stay at an inpatient rehab following detox is also the preferred course of treatment for anyone who wants to quit Adderall. Rehab will provide a controlled environment where you can adjust to living without the drug and receive counseling to discover the underlying reasons of your use.
Outpatient treatment is another option, but you will not receive the one on one care that you would in an inpatient facility.
The physical withdrawal effects of Adderall is one thing, but understanding how to continue living your life without the drug is another. It is very difficult to adjust back to life without using the drug. With therapy and treatment however, it is hard work, but there is no reason why it can’t be done.
Getting therapy after you quit Adderall can help you maintain your sobriety. A counselor can work with you to help you learn ways that you can change your thoughts and behaviors so that you can successfully cope without the substance and manage any cravings.
Group therapy or support groups that are similar to the 12-step model can also be excellent options for people who wish to quit Adderall. It’s also important to get the support of your friends, family, and others who understand what you’re going through. When you need help, ask for it.
Adderall abuse may occur alongside other mental health concerns or disorders, in cases of co-occurring disorders. SAMHSA reports that almost 8 million people over the age of 17 in the United States suffered from co-occurring disorders in 2014. When this is the case, both the substance use disorder and the mental health disorder are typically treated in an integrated fashion with the aid of both pharmaceutical and therapeutic techniques.
Addiction treatment isn’t a “cure” for addiction. Long-term recovery for Adderall abuse and addiction must be sustained, as addiction is a disease that must be actively managed. Ongoing attendance at support groups and participation in aftercare programs can help to sustain recovery in this way.
Call Sober Nation
If you are struggling with addiction, the experienced staff at Sober Nation are ready to talk you through what is happening in your body and explain the symptoms and sensations that you are experiencing. Medical personnel can also keep your loved ones informed of your status as you go through this process while treating you or your loved one with the compassion and respect they deserve. Some of the expert staff of Sober Nation are recovering from addictions themselves and are an active part of the recovery community around you, so they understand the pain and frustration that you experience. Turn your goal of recovery into reality and call Sober Nation today.
If you feel you or a loved one need help with an addiction, SoberNation provides tools and resources as well as a 24/7 hotline. (866) 207-7436