You just need a little something extra. It could be a little jolt to keep you awake so you can study for that test. Or a little burst of energy so you can run fast enough to win.
It's so easy to get what you want. All you have to do is take a little pill, and your goal is within your grasp.
But at what cost?
Roughly 2.5 million young people between the ages of 18-25 have misused prescription stimulants like Adderall. Considering the negative effects of becoming addicted to Adderall, this is a sobering number.
What is Adderall and how do you know if you have become addicted to it? Let's take a look.
Adderall is an amphetamine stimulant. The drug works by causing the brain to overproduce certain chemicals like dopamine. These chemicals cause the user to feel more alert, energetic, and happier.
The drug is commonly prescribed for disorders like narcolepsy and ADHD.
The brain of people with these conditions is not producing chemicals in the ratios that it should. The drug helps to balance that out. But it has a different effect on a brain that is already producing the right chemical ratios.
Amphetamine misuse started all the way back with the invention of the drug in 1887. The seemingly positive side effects of the drug made it popular for a number of reasons.
Amphetamines were given to soldiers during World War II as a means to keep them alert and on task. They were marketed to women in the 50's as a means to lose weight and brighten their mood. Nowadays, teens and college students are using them to stay up all night to study.
But there is a dark side to misusing these stimulants.
The initial side effects of using Adderall feel positive. Your mood improves and you have more energy. You don't feel hungry and end up losing weight without trying.
But eventually, it starts not being all rainbows and unicorns.
You feel crabby and start snapping at your friends. You start spending more time alone. You have a need to get your hands on more stimulants.
In case you develop an addiction, your body could sustain some serious damage. Let's look at some of the warning signs that you may be addicted to Adderall.
If you think these apply to you, we urge you to seek help immediately.
As your body becomes used to the drug, your brain develops a tolerance to its effects. You will have to take a bigger dose to feel the same effects. This is a red flag that you've gone too far.
Since Adderall works by adjusting the chemistry of the brain, there can be psychological effects. As you become addicted to Adderall, these effects worsen.
You may experience
A person with abnormal brain chemistry can take Adderall to fix it and not experience these strange side effects. But if you have a normal brain or you're taking a large dose, these can pop up pretty quick.
Adderall stimulates the production of dopamine in the brain, among other things.
Dopamine is one of the chemicals in the brain known as "happy chemicals". That is because it helps to control mood, happiness in particular.
When your brain gets used to the level of dopamine Adderall gives you, normal levels start to feel like too little. You may start feeling irritable or even depressed until you take another pill.
As you become more addicted to Adderall, the effects worsen. You may begin to experience intense feelings of stress or anxiety, particularly if it has been a while since your last dose.
As your body becomes dependent on the drug, you'll feel the need to have access to it all the time.
Your anxiety could explode into panic attacks at some point. This is a strong sign that you are addicted to Adderall.
Adderall is a stimulant, which gives you energy and makes you feel good. It isn't good for your heart, though. Artificially energizing the body and not resting as needed takes a toll on the body and the heart in particular.
You may experience a racing or irregular heartbeat. Strokes are also common.
In some cases, the heart can simply stop for no apparent reason. If there is no one around to get it going again, there is little chance of survival.
The energizing effects of Adderall give you the ability to stay up all night and feel wide awake. That's what draws many teenagers and college students to take the drug. But this is an unnatural feeling of alertness.
When you become addicted to Adderall, you can start experiencing sleep disturbances like insomnia and hypersomnia. This becomes worse as you try to quit the drug.
When you do sleep, you may experience vivid and/or very strange dreams.
They generally won't be pleasant dreams that involve tropical beaches or relaxing in a hot tub. They're going to be the kind of dreams you wish you could skip.
The first step to getting help for your addiction is realizing that you have one. If you're experiencing any of these warning signs, we urge you to seek help.
Withdrawal symptoms from Adderall can be very severe. In some cases, they can even be dangerous.
Here at Diamond House Detox, we offer detoxification programs that help ease withdrawal symptoms. You can get off the drug the safest way possible under medical supervision.
Contact us today if you or someone you know may need help. Don't wait. Your life could be hanging in the balance.
Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on October 19th, 2018.