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, serotonin and norepinephrine. These chemicals cause the user to feel more alert, energetic and happier. This FDA-approved drug is commonly prescribed for disorders like narcolepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Individuals who have these conditions typically do not produce the necessary chemicals in the right amount. Adderall helps to balance out the chemical ratios, but it may have an unintended effect on a brain that may already produce some of the chemical ratios correctly.
Amphetamine misuse is not a new issue. Amphetamines were given to soldiers during World War II as a means to keep them alert and on task. The seemingly positive side effects of the drug made it popular for a number of reasons, particularly for students and athletes.
Additionally, amphetamines were marketed to women in the 1950s as a means to lose weight and brighten their mood. Nowadays, teens and college students use them to stay up all night to study. However, misusing stimulants and other drugs can lead to severe consequences.
Yes, Adderall is addictive. In fact, this drug has a high potential for misuse and addiction. As with other addictive substances, your brain can become accustomed to repeated doses of Adderall, changing your brain chemistry and creating a physiological dependence. As a result, you may find you have to take more frequent or higher doses to experience the desired effects, potentially beginning a cycle of substance abuse.
It's important to note that there's a distinction between Adderall dependence and addiction. Adderall dependence generally refers to the physiological dependence that naturally occurs when taking stimulants when taken as prescribed. You may develop a physical dependence on the drug without obsessing over or craving Adderall. In this case, your doctor can help you get off the medication gradually and safely to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms.
Adderall addiction refers to the reliance on the substance in addition to compulsive, drug-seeking behaviors. You may run out of your prescription early because you take more than prescribed by your doctor and feel unable to cope without the medication. Once the drug becomes the priority, where you'll do almost anything to get more of it, the reliance has likely reached the addiction stage.
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, the dark side of misusing this substance will catch up to you.
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 cases of addiction, your body could sustain some serious damage. Let's look at some common Adderall addiction symptoms.
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. As your tolerance increases, taking more Adderall significantly increases your risk of overdose.
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 your brain already produces the correct ratio of chemicals, or if you're taking a large dose, these can pop up pretty quickly.
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.
It's not uncommon for stimulants like Adderall to cause anxiety symptoms because of their effect on increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. 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.
Over time, your anxiety could explode into panic attacks at some point. As a result, you may start increasing your Adderall dosage to achieve the same temporary relief from anxiety or panic attacks. You may also experience shortness or breath, nausea, shaking hands or other common symptoms of panic attacks as a result of the drug. This is a strong sign that you are addicted to Adderall.
Adderall is a stimulant, which means it 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 can take a substantial toll on the body and heart.
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 no one is 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 restlessness, insomnia and hypersomnia. This becomes worse as you try to quit the drug. Lack of sleep can lead to many negative health conditions and may even contribute to increased anxiety and panic attacks.
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.
If you're addicted to Adderall and your tolerance is high, you might try new ways of consuming the drug. This could include crushing the pill to snort it or mixing it with other substances.
A common sign of addiction is neglecting family, community and professional responsibilities. Once the drug becomes your main priority, your priorities and beloved activities take a back seat. You might not be able to finish a task without taking Adderall or give up participating in social gatherings in favor of obtaining and using Adderall. You may even feel the need to hide your addiction even after realizing that it's taking over your life.
If you've noticed that you've started to prioritize obtaining Adderall at the expense of your personal and professional life, it's time to consider getting medical care. Missing school or work, falling behind on bills, or feeling generally physically and emotionally unwell can all be indicators that substance misuse has taken over your life.
Admitting that you need help is always the first step. Addiction is a disease that can be treated with stimulant detoxification, behavioral therapy, counseling and support groups. Inpatient and outpatient treatment options are particularly effective because they allow you to detox in a safe environment under the supervision of medical professionals.
If you experience withdrawal symptoms, medical professionals will help you manage the discomfort, prevent complications and implement abstinence strategies.
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 outpatient addiction treatment and 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.