Adderall is a well-known stimulant used to treat people who have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. When taken as directed, Adderall can help with:
- Impulse control
Adderall is also often abused, especially by young people seeking an Adderall high or wanting to stay awake while cramming for exams. One study found that over a 6-year period, Adderall abuse in adults increased by 67% and emergency room visits increased by 156%. The widespread use of Adderall by millennials in the early 2000s was so much so that they got pegged as “Generation Adderall.” It continues to be a popular drug of abuse.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a combination stimulant with two active ingredients:
- Amphetamine, a stimulant that forces the brain to speed up certain functions. It can make you feel more focused and awake.
- Dextroamphetamine, a drug similar in structure to amphetamine that blocks the reuptake of dopamine, which produces feelings of happiness and pleasure. Dextroamphetamine also contributes to concentration and focus.
Health care providers sometimes prescribe Adderall to treat ADHD in people over age three. It’s also used to treat narcolepsy in people who are at least 12 years old. If you’re prescribed Adderall, your physician will start you on the lowest effective dose. It’s possible to build a tolerance to Adderall, so it may not work the same for you over time. You will gradually receive higher doses of Adderall, depending on how you respond to it.
There are two types of Adderall:
- Immediate-release is usually taken every four to six hours, two to three times daily.
- Extended-release (Adderall XR): is taken in the morning and lasts the whole day.
What Are Side Effects of Adderall?
When taken as directed, Adderall side effects may include:
- Decrease in appetite
Less common Adderall side effects may include:
- Vision problems
- Slowed height and weight growth in children
Is Adderall Addictive?
It’s possible to become addicted to Adderall and other stimulants. Adderall abuse can rapidly lead to Adderall addiction. That’s because the drug works on the reward center of the brain. You can become psychologically addicted to the effects of Adderall, just like any other drug that provides a desired state. You can also become physically dependent on it. Abusing Adderall can cause imbalances in brain chemicals. Your brain begins to depend on Adderall to make certain chemicals, so when you stop using it, you may experience withdrawal.
Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:
- Body pains
- Increased appetite
- Vivid dreams and nightmares
- Adderall cravings
Learn more about what it’s like to withdraw from Adderall.
Am I Addicted to Adderall?
Adderall abuse may begin with the innocent intention to keep up with a stressful job, to stay up late to study for a test, or to do well in sports. Some people abuse Adderall because they want to lose weight. This is because one of Adderall’s side effects is the loss of appetite.
Once you’ve begun using Adderall for those desired effects, it becomes hard to imagine being able to maintain your success or keep up with your goals without it. This can lead you to continue taking the drug to keep up with work, school, or a particular image.
A key indicator of Adderall addiction is continuing to abuse it despite negative effects on your health and life.
Signs and symptoms of Adderall addiction include:
- Becoming anxious once Adderall’s effects begin to wear off
- Crushing Adderall so you can snort it and feel its effects more quickly
- Chewing Adderall pills
- Spending significant time and money obtaining more Adderall
- Mixing Adderall with other substances of abuse, like alcohol
- Taking more of the Adderall dosage than your doctor prescribed
- Taking Adderall that has been prescribed to someone else
- Taking Adderall to get high
- Doctor shopping to get more Adderall
Long-term effects of Adderall abuse include:
- Anger problems
If you stop taking Adderall cold turkey, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. This can propel the Adderall abuse cycle. Learn more about the signs of Adderall abuse here.
Can You Overdose on Adderall?
Adderall overdose symptoms may include:
- Abnormal heart rate
- High body temperatures
- Fast, shallow breathing
Your risk of an Adderall overdose increases when you take Adderall and alcohol or Adderall and other substances. Everyone responds to stimulants differently. A dose that might not cause problems for one person could cause an overdose in another.
How Is Adderall Addiction Treated?
Treatment for Adderall addiction is similar to treatment of other substance use disorders. This may include:
Depending how long you’ve been abusing Adderall as well as if you’re using other substances, medical detox may be necessary. Adderall detox may include tapers as well as medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Tapers involve decreasing Adderall doses in safe increments. Detoxing from Adderall should always be done with the help of medical professionals, so it’s safe and as comfortable as possible.
Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment
Substance abuse is a symptom of something bigger. You may be abusing drugs and alcohol to cope with past trauma, mental health issues, relationship problems, and other challenges. You must address the reasons you’re abusing Adderall and other substances to help prevent the urge to use Adderall again. Depending on your needs, an inpatient or outpatient treatment program can help you identify the underlying issues behind your Adderall addiction and begin to move past them.
After medical drug detox, many people choose inpatient treatment, where they receive 24/7 support by living in a treatment environment. But perhaps you have responsibilities that you can’t step away from. A partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient program may be just right for you. You can live at home while continuing to get the treatment you need.
Managing Co-Occurring Disorders
Anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders underlie many addictions. When you enter a treatment program, medical professionals will assess whether you have a mental illness that contributes to your substance abuse and help you manage it with therapy and medications, if needed. Treating an Adderall addiction and an underlying mental health condition together is crucial in order to truly leave substance abuse in the past.
Traditional and Alternative Therapies
Substance abuse treatment may include individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Alternative therapies, like EMDR, adventure therapy, yoga, and mindfulness, may also be part of your treatment plan.
Twelve-step groups and 12-step alternatives like SMART Recovery are important parts of long-term recovery. Peers in sobriety can provide support and keep you accountable in your recovery journey.
There’s still important relapse prevention work to do after addiction treatment. Aftercare planning is critical to long-term recovery. Aftercare may involve a combination of therapy sessions, support group meetings, exercise, and other practices that support a healthy lifestyle.
Get Adderall Addiction Treatment
Many people need specialized treatment to stop abusing Adderall. At Footprints to Recovery, we offer residential and outpatient treatment for Adderall addiction, as well as partial hospitalization treatment. Our addiction experts can help you get better and live a fulfilling life in recovery.