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Adderall Addiction Signs, Causes, and Treatment

Adderall addiction is common, and sometimes easy to miss. Since Adderall is a stimulant, most people don’t show telltale signs of being high when they’re using the drug. People usually recognize a high state of mind as slurred speech, impaired coordination, randomly falling asleep. They don’t associate highness with an abundance of energy or increased productivity, which is exactly how Adderall addiction may appear from the outside. 

If you believe that you or someone you know may be addicted to Adderall, recognizing the signs and symptoms may be a little tricky. It’s important to be informed about Adderall addiction so that the individual impacted, whether it be you or someone you know, can receive the necessary treatment for recovery from that addiction.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant drug, and it’s alarmingly similar to methamphetamine. Just like opioid drugs mimic the way that heroin works, Adderall mimics the way that methamphetamine works. 

Adderall is an amphetamine/dextroamphetamine drug that changes the way the neurotransmitters of the brain respond to stimulation and produce stimulant chemicals, like adrenaline. 

Adderall is often used to treat conditions like narcolepsy, where a perpetual lack of stimulant chemicals leads someone to fall asleep beyond their control. It’s also used to regulate misfires of chemicals in the brain, like in patients with ADHD who have trouble maintaining focus for long enough to complete important tasks. 

People with neither narcolepsy nor ADHD will not experience a rebalancing of chemicals when they take Adderall. Instead, they’ll experience a surge of chemicals that feels like a euphoric high. It’s the same kind of high people experience when they take methamphetamine. It’s similar to the feeling you might experience right before a roller coaster drops into a deep plunge, but that feeling is perpetual.

Is Adderall Dangerous?

Adderall is not dangerous to the people it is prescribed to, provided they’re taking the minimum recommended dose and only using the medication as prescribed. These people have a need for additional stimulant chemicals or the regulation of the stimulant chemicals they naturally produce.

If your neurotransmitters are in proper working order and you take Adderall, you can be putting yourself in serious danger. Cardiovascular events, including death, have been linked to the abuse or misuse of Adderall. Your heart rate can speed up uncontrollably and fail to regulate itself, leading to your death. 

What is Adderall Addiction Like?

Adderall addiction usually manifests itself in several ways. The biggest indicator is the constant preoccupation with thoughts about finding, buying, or taking Adderall. 

Many people who take excessive amounts of Adderall experience unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, excessive sleeping when they run out of Adderall, or overworking or overexercising to “burn off” the energy they get from the drug. 

Over time, addicts might need larger doses of Adderall to achieve the same effect. They may even want to stop using Adderall, but find themselves unable to function without it. 

It’s not uncommon for an Adderall addict to spend large sums of money and large amounts of time finding Adderall to use, and they may put off important life events because they’re worried they won’t be able to get through them without Adderall. 

How Do People Become Addicted to Adderall?

People become addicted to Adderall because they like to feel the adrenaline rush. Adderall is often used as a party drug, similar to cocaine. It keeps people energized and helps them stay awake all night, when what their body desperately needs is deep restorative sleep that it’s not getting. 

Some people don’t intend to become addicted to Adderall, but begin using it unprescribed for off label purposes. People might use Adderall to help them lose weight to perform better at work on less sleep. These people think that Adderall is an alternative solution to common problems or a shortcut to help them reach their goals earlier. 

They know what it does and they assume that it’s safe, since it isn’t a street drug. 

People who manage to abuse Adderall without any deadly adverse side effects find themselves becoming addicted to it. It changes the way their brain works, and they develop a tolerance for the drug. 

When they’re out of Adderall, they may feel profoundly listless and sleepy. Their brain has stopped creating and regulating the chemicals that Adderall supersedes, and they often feel like they can’t do anything without the drug.

Who is Most At Risk for Adderall Addiction?

People who take Adderall as prescribed are not considered Adderall addicted, but Adderall dependent. Adderall dependency is an expected side effect of the drug. When there’s something wrong with the way chemicals are transmitted throughout the brain and Adderall helps to correct that problem, the person is dependent on Adderall for their wellness.

It may be possible for those people to stop taking the drug with the help of their physician and a series of lowered dosages to help them find a new homeostasis, but these people should not stop taking the drug cold turkey. 

They only need to stop as a matter of personal choice, as there is no danger using Adderall as directed when it’s prescribed by a medical professional and the patient is regularly attending appointments with that doctor.

Anyone who uses Adderall regularly without a medical need for the drug can develop an Adderall addiction. 

Since the medication is used to treat ADHD, it often makes its way to high schools and college campuses. Young people are the most likely to receive and take treatment for ADHD, and they may abuse the medication with their friends. 

Does Stopping Adderall Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Stopping Adderall may cause withdrawal symptoms in some patients. These symptoms tend to be significantly more mild than symptoms from opioid or alcohol withdrawal. Some people report feeling nauseous or having an upset stomach when they stop taking Adderall. Others report an extreme fatigue, as they’ve impaired their brains’ product of chemicals that would ordinarily keep them alert. 

Patients detoxing from Adderall often compare the feeling to a hangover. If you’ve had a rough day after drinking too much the night before, you already have an idea of what Adderall withdrawal may feel like.

Usually, Adderall withdrawal symptoms resolve themselves in less than 72 hours. Most patients report feeling back to normal in a day or two after stopping the medication. However, psychological effects may persist.

The treatment for Adderall addiction primarily focuses on the psychological side effects of stopping the drug, identifying the causes for why the drug was taken in the first place, and replacing Adderall use with healthy habits and better life practices. 

Treating Adderall Addiction

Adderall withdrawal is a relatively simple process that’s over with quickly. It doesn’t have the extended dangers that opioid withdrawal or alcohol withdrawal usually has. 

If you’re nervous about pursuing treatment because you fear Adderall withdrawal, it’s unlikely that it will physically be the worst experience of your life. It’s similar to the flu and it doesn’t last very long. 

Treatment for Adderall addiction is primarily therapy. You’ll speak with a therapist about your Adderall habit and why you feel as though you need the drug. Some people live high stress lives and lean on Adderall to help them pull all nighters. Other people take the drug to lose weight. Some use it to improve their athletic skill. 

Identifying the reason is the most important step in creating a healthy alternative. 

Learning New Strategies for Continued Success

Your therapist can help you find a healthy way to achieve your goals without the use of Adderall. Despite what many Adderall addicts may believe, the Adderall isn’t actually making them better at anything. It’s only infusing them with the energy they need to spend more time and attention on the task at hand. 

If your goal is to graduate with excellent grades, your therapist will help you create better strategies for studying and learning

If you want to be a better athlete, you’ll come up with a personal schedule that allows you to devote ample time to training. 

If you use Adderall to stay awake, your therapist will likely recommend that you sleep normally and learn to prioritize your tasks for the morning. Nobody can go without sleep, and there isn’t a healthy way to procrastinate a process the body requires for health and healing.

No matter your reasons or goals, your therapist will be able to help you create a roadmap to achieving those goals the natural way. You don’t need Adderall to be the best version of yourself. Just a little patience and a better schedule.

Conclusion

If you believe you may have an Adderall addiction, the best time to seek help is right now. The longer you procrastinate, the further away you’ll be from a healthy and drug free life. 

Reclaim your time, your money, and your ability to experience the world through a lens not altered by drugs. Addiction treatment can completely change a life if it’s just given a chance.  

Sources:

https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/amphetamines

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html

https://www.edutopia.org/article/5-research-backed-studying-techniques