Adderall is a prescription drug that includes a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is mainly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. When an individual uses Adderall, he or she may encounter a “crash,” or a comedown, when they discontinue use.
Adderall is a CNS (central nervous system) stimulant categorized as a Schedule II substance by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). Schedule II drugs are considered to have some medical purpose but also have a high potential for both abuse and dependence.
The effects of this stimulant drug will begin to wane after six or more hours after ingestion, leading to a crash or come down. A user will then start to experience what, in many ways, is virtually the opposite of the drug’s sought-after effects. They may experience depression, anger, rage, irritability, anxiety, sleeplessness, and fatigue.
Abuse of Adderall
While there are many medical uses for stimulant medications, they are also misused by many. According to information from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2017, an estimated 18.6 million individuals in the U.S. age 12 and older used prescription stimulants in the past year.
Drugs used included those who were given prescriptions by doctors and those who obtained them through illicit means. Of those more than 18 million users, about 5.8 million reported abusing prescription stimulants in the past year.
Misuse includes using the drug more frequently, in higher amounts, or longer than a physician has instructed. It also includes abusing it in other ways in which it was not intended, such as crushing the powder and snorting it intranasally. Finally, taking Adderall without a prescription is also considered to be abuse.
Abuse of Adderall and similar stimulants is especially common among young adults. In fact, it is estimated that over 2.5 million Americans age 18-25 abused prescription stimulants in the last year, reflecting about 7.4 percent of that age group.
People may abuse prescription stimulants in a number of ways. Some consume them orally, while others dilute the powder in water after crushing the tablets and then inject it—still, others may smoke or snort the powder.
One of the main reasons why an individual may misuse stimulants is because they falsely believe that it will enhance their cognitive abilities. Students may misuse them in an effort to help them study, cram for a test, or try to improve their performance at school.
Other reasons may include increasing energy and losing weight. People who have to work very long shifts, such as truck drivers and nurses, have also been known to abuse stimulants such as Adderall.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), between 2006-2008, full-time students in college-aged 18-22 were more than twice as likely to have misused Adderall in the past year as those in the same age group who go to college full-time.
Also, those who abused Adderall tended to engage in other forms of substance abuse. For instance, these full-time students were five times more likely to have abused prescription opioids or cocaine and eight times more likely to have misused prescription sedatives. They were also three times more likely to have used cannabis in the last year, and nearly 90% reported binge drinking alcohol.
Dangers of Adderall
There are many dangers associated both with proper prescription stimulant use and abuse. Common side effects of Adderall may include the following:
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Sleeping problems
- Dry mouth
- Stomach pain
- Mood swings
Severe side effects of Adderall may include:
- Psychotic symptoms
- Heart attack and stroke
Abusing Adderall is dangerous for several reasons. When an individual receives an Adderall prescription, the doctor should carefully monitor the person for any complications. However, if the person gets Adderall illicitly, they are using it without essential medical supervision.
Also, anyone who is abusing Adderall may be using much higher doses than directed, and therefore increasing the risk of potentially hazardous effects. Excessive doses of stimulants can result in heart abnormalities and heart failure, dangerously high body temperature, seizures, and overdose.
Abusing prescription stimulants can also lead to extreme anger, paranoia, and psychosis. Furthermore, an individual who has obtained Adderall from an illicit source may unwittingly be using a different drug or Adderall mixed with another substance. Thus, they may be at a heightened risk for unpredictable, dangerous effects.
Signs and symptoms of an overdose of a prescription stimulant may include the following:
- Rapid breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Poor blood circulation
- Muscle weakness or pain
- Stomach cramps
If you suspect that you or someone you know is overdosing on Adderall or another stimulant, please call 911 immediately.
The Adderall Crash
The misuse of stimulants can result in the development of a substance use disorder. Using stimulants for an extended period, even when using them as prescribed, can lead to the development of tolerance. As tolerance accumulates, the individual will need to use more of a drug to achieve the sought-after effect.
An individual may also develop dependence, a condition in which their body has begun to rely on the drug to function normally. If a dependent person suddenly stops taking prescription stimulants, they will experience withdrawal symptoms, including the following:
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Loss of motivation
Certain medications may be beneficial when a person is withdrawing from Adderall. Importantly, however, these should only be used under the supervision of a medical professional or addiction specialist. These medications can be delivered in either an inpatient or outpatient setting and can include the following:
Modafinil – a mild stimulant that can relieve fatigue encountered during withdrawal.
Propranolol – a beta-blocker that can reduce anxiety associated with withdrawal.
Bupropion – a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) that can alleviate unpleasant mood symptoms that may manifest during withdrawal.
For most individuals with a stimulant use disorder, discontinuing drug use and going through detox is not enough to foster lasting recovery. Therefore, anyone with a substance use disorder should seek long-term professional treatment.
Getting Treatment for Adderall Abuse
Modern treatment can help with the development of coping techniques and prevention of relapse. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach an individual how to alter unhealthy feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. This therapy can help people addicted to stimulants better manage stress and triggers and change their expectations about drug use and related behaviors.
It is crucial to remember that the Adderall crash a person may experience after stopping use is temporary. However, even after withdrawal symptoms abate, a person may still have cravings, especially when they encounter triggers. For this reason and others, it is vital to enroll in a comprehensive treatment program that helps individuals develop coping skills and prepares them for long-standing recovery.
Just Believe Recovery offers integrated, evidence-based treatment programs in both partial hospitalization and residential formats. We know how difficult it can be for people to get clean on their own, and we believe that those who battle addiction deserve the very best treatment available.
If you or someone you love is struggling with the abuse of Adderall, other drugs, or alcohol, contact us today! Find out how we help those we treat free themselves from the chains of addiction and foster healthier, more fulfilling lives!