Adderall Addiction Recovery
Adderall is safe when it is used for a valid medical reason according to prescription instructions. It is not safe to abuse Adderall.
Adderall is a well-known medication that is used to treat people who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When taken as directed, it can control these symptoms:
- Inability to keep still
- Lack of impulse control
- Difficulty concentrating
It can also be prescribed for people who have narcolepsy so they can stay awake during the day. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes a person to suddenly fall asleep or have difficulty staying awake.
Assessing the Safety of Adderall Use
Adderall’s two main active ingredients are:
- Amphetamine. This is a stimulant that forces the brain to speed up certain messages. Though its use is legal when it is prescribed and medically supervised, it has a high potential for misuse. Illicit amphetamines include speed. Amphetamines can make you feel more focused and awake.
- Dextroamphetamine. This is similar in structure to amphetamines and thought to block the reuptake of dopamine. This contributes to concentration and focusing abilities.
Adderall treats ADHD in children as young as 3, and it can be used in adults as well. It can treat narcolepsy in people who are at least 12 years old.
Doctors will start you at the lowest possible effective dose. You can build a tolerance to the drug, so it may not work the same over time. You will gradually receive higher doses, depending on how you respond to Adderall.
Side effects of regular Adderall use include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- Stomach issues
Men may experience erectile dysfunction (ED) when taking Adderall. There are some ways to deal with this:
- Ask for a lower dose that can handle ADHD effectively while not causing ED.
- Don’t take Adderall prior to intercourse.
There are two formulations of Adderall:
- Immediate-release is usually taken every four to six hours, two to three times daily.
- Extended-release is taken in the morning and lasts the whole day.
Sleep and Adderall Use
Adderall is known to cause sleep issues in teenagers. This is because the concentration issues that affect teens with ADHD can also make it difficult for them to fall and stay asleep.
It is up to you and your doctor to make sure your child or teenager gets proper sleep. Ensure your child takes Adderall at an appropriate time. Proper dosing allows your child to concentrate during school hours and to focus enough to study at night, but it still allows them to relax enough to fall asleep.
Symptoms of Misuse
We often have a misguided view of who misuses drugs or prescription medication. Not everyone conforms to the typical “doctor shopper” stereotype or visits dangerous drug dealers in order to get their hands on Adderall and other prescription medication.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that you are misusing Adderall if:
- You take it in higher or more frequent doses than your doctor has instructed.
- You take Adderall that has been prescribed to someone else.
- You take medication for pleasure (to get high).
Experimentation with Adderall may start as a one-time choice, but NIDA reports that misuse of prescription medication has risen steadily between 1999 and 2016.
Risks of Adderall Misuse
In June 2010, the Huffington Post called Adderall “the most abused prescription drug in America.”
Misuse of Adderall can rapidly lead to dependency and even addiction. Healthline says that teens and young adults trying to do well in competitive environments are at particular risk of Adderall abuse.
Adderall misuse often begins 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.
Other risk factors for the misuse of Adderall are the desire to lose weight or the presence of an eating disorder. This is because one of Adderall’s side effects is loss of appetite.
You should not take Adderall if you have a history of past drug or alcohol misuse. Avoid the drug if you have glaucoma, heart defects, high blood pressure, or an overactive thyroid.
Serious side effects that could worsen health conditions include:
- Rapid breathing and heart rate.
- Rise in blood pressure.
- Increase in temperature.
- Heart failure.
Adderall can also cause harmful reactions in people who take the following medications:
- Pain medication
- Seizure medication
- Blood thinners
- Blood pressure medications
Potential for Overdose
Adderall abuse could cause an overdose. Healthline explains that these are the usual doses of Adderall:
- A starting dose of 10 mg per day for teenagers
- A starting dose of 20 mg per day for adults
Most doses fall between 5 mg and 60 mg per day. Taking more than this can result in excess Adderall in your system.
Everyone responds to stimulants differently. A dose that might not cause problems for one person could cause an overdose in another.
The risk of overdose is heightened when people combine other substances, such as alcohol, with Adderall.
Never take more Adderall than you have been prescribed, and talk to your doctor if you feel your dose is no longer working.
Recognizing Adderall Abuse
The following are common signs that you are abusing the medication:
- 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 in an effort to obtain more Adderall
- Combining Adderall with other substances of abuse, including alcohol
How Does Treatment Work?
You do not have to wait until you have become addicted to Adderall to obtain treatment. Amphetamines foster dependency, which means you may feel you need this medication in order to function well. The sooner you get help, the better.
Treatment for misuse of Adderall has not been standardized, but it borrows methods that have proven successful for other substance use disorders. Here is what you can expect in your journey toward recovery when you enter rehab:
- Intake: A doctor or other addiction professional will ask questions about your use of Adderall. Explain how and when you take it, and how much you take. You will be asked about your medical history and whether you use other substances or medications, including supplements or vitamins. You can also expect to discuss whether or not you experience symptoms of withdrawal when you do not take Adderall.
- Medical assessment: Doctors traditionally use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder criteria to diagnose a substance use disorder. You’ll be assessed for any other medical or mental health conditions.
- Treatment planning: Your treatment team will devise a recovery plan for you. This plan is tailored to your individual situation, giving you treatment on multiple fronts to ensure you have the best foundation in recovery possible.
- Detox: This is often considered a crucial primary step in successfully managing addiction. Sometimes, it involves a tapered approach. Other times, there is a full cessation of all stimulant use. The process is monitored by medical professionals, and medications are used as needed.
- Therapy: Individual, group, and family therapy can all be crucial to helping you change your habits, repair relationships, and meet others who are going through similar situations. Therapy is the backbone of addiction recovery.
- Aftercare: Once formal treatment ends, the recovery process is not over. Aftercare planning is critical to long-term success in recovery. An aftercare plan may involve a combination of therapy sessions, support group meetings, exercise, and other practices that support a healthy lifestyle.
Treatment and Addiction Resources
You do not have to face Adderall addiction alone. Below is a list of nonprofits and government organizations that can help if you struggle with Adderall abuse. They can also provide advice for those who are dealing with addiction in a friend or family member.
- Your state’s health and human services department: States have a limited amount of resources they can use to help people facing addiction or mental health issues that may arise as a result of misuse. Look for state-level resources here. Waiting lists are common.
- National SAMHSA helpline: This is run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). You can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or 1-800-487-4889 if you use a TTY. The helpline is available all year. You can obtain referrals to treatment centers, support groups, and local organizations. They can also assist you in Spanish and mail you educational materials upon request.
Statistics on Adderall Misuse
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported that between 2006 and 2011, a rising number of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 misused Adderall. Data shows that most people illicitly obtained Adderall from friends or family.
In that period of time, prescriptions for the medication fell. The report also found the following:
- Recreational use of Adderall rose 67 percent.
- Visits to the emergency room implicating Adderall rose 156 percent.
- People were most likely to get Adderall from family or friends who have a legitimate prescription.