Adderall is a prescription-only stimulant indicated for the treatment of ADD/ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy. Adderall (amphetamine-dextroamphetamine) is designed to improve concentration and attention spans in those experiencing ADHD.
People who abuse Adderall over an extended period may experience the following:
- Sleep disturbances
- Impaired concentration
- Lack of motivation
- Irritability and aggression
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Suicidal ideations
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Heart disease
- Weight loss
ADHD and ADD are among the most commonly diagnosed neurological disorders among children and adolescents. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that as of summer 2015, nearly 10%—close to 6 million—U.S. children between ages 4-17 had been diagnosed with ADHD.
As prescriptions for Adderall increase, so may it’s potential for diversion and non-medical use. College students often utilize Adderall as a “smart drug.” It may be abused by young persons in response to higher education pressures, as students believe it will help them earn better grades because they can remain awake and study longer.
Adderall also suppresses appetite and, for this reason, may also be abused as a weight-loss drug. More commonly, it is used in conjunction with other substances or to obtain feelings of euphoria. Using Adderall in combination with other substances can be very dangerous and increases the likelihood of a life-threatening overdose or adverse interaction between substances.
Stimulants such as Adderall are addictive, and abusing them for recreational purposes may increase the risk of developing a psychological and chemical dependence upon them.
How Long-term Adderall Use Affects the Brain
Stimulants like Adderall can improve focus and boost energy levels while reducing the need for sleep and suppressing appetite. However, they also alter and enhance several neurochemicals’ activity in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline. Over time, the ever-fluctuating dopamine activity in the brain can dramatically impact the brain’s reward center and alter a person’s ability to experience pleasure without amphetamine use.
The more often Adderall is abused, the more established these changes become. Drug tolerance may develop, and more Adderall may be needed per dose to feel the desired effects.
As Adderall is cleared from the bloodstream, withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings can occur, meaning that a physical and emotional dependence has developed. Someone who is Adderall-dependent may have difficulty sleeping and concentrating, exhibit a lack of motivation, and feel depressed, irritable, or exhausted when it is eliminated from the body. Abusing amphetamines may also increase aggression and promote suicidal ideations.
For those who have been misusing Adderall for an extended period, the emotional aspect of withdrawal may be the most noticeable side effect. Often, dopamine’s natural production is diminished, resulting in low moods and difficulty feeling pleasure without the drug’s presence. Fortunately, most of these brain changes will be repaired over time with maintained abstinence and proper care and support.
In some cases, Adderall and other prescription stimulants have been reported to precipitate psychosis and schizophrenia-like symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, and other behavioral or mood disturbances.
Anxiety and panic attacks may also be provoked by the prolonged use of amphetamine or during withdrawal. Furthermore, symptoms may be intensified for a person with a history of mental health disorders, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Withdrawal effects often lead a person to relapse.
Physical Side Effects
Stimulants like Adderall can increase heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. Repeated abuse, especially in high doses, can result in a wide range of medical complications, including stroke, heart attack, and seizures.
Adderall can damage the heart and cardiovascular system when used long-term and in excess. The most common Adderall-related cardiovascular problems are high blood pressure and irregular heart rate. Sudden cardiac arrest is also a potential side effect of Adderall.
Other side effects of misusing Adderall long-term include:
- Abdominal pain
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations
- Trouble breathing
- Feeling jittery anxious
Using Adderall for a prolonged period increases all risk factors and possible chronic side effects, which may get progressively worse over time.
Treatment for Adderall Abuse and Addiction
Adderall addiction is a devastating, potentially lethal condition that requires intensive treatment in an approach that includes long-term therapy, education, counseling, and support. Adderall addiction has no definitive “cure,” but those who undergo treatment are allowed to reclaim their lives and once again live in peace and sobriety. In some cases, alternatives to Adderall may be appropriate.
Just Believe Recovery offers a secure, structured environment, and our addiction specialists are qualified to effectively treat each individual’s needs using an in-depth, custom approach.
If you or a loved one has an addiction to Adderall, please seek treatment as soon as possible. Contact us today to learn about our treatment programs!