Is Adderall Addictive?
Adderall addiction is more likely to develop in teens and young adults because of its effects of increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system (CNS). Norepinephrine affects how the brain responds to events, particularly how it pays attention and the speed with which it reacts to outside stimuli. Dopamine, the body’s “feel-good” chemical, creates a rewarding effect. Although dopamine occurs naturally, drugs like Adderall produce unnaturally high levels of it. This can cause users to come back for more.
Adderall and other amphetamines are known as “brain boosters” and “study drugs” because some students believe that these drugs help improve cognition. Adderall doesn’t make a person smarter, but it can increase the perception and feeling of being smarter by improving motivation. Also, It can cause side effects like hallucinations, epilepsy, psychosis, and malnutrition.
The prolonged use of Adderall can lead to addiction and its associated risks. Contrary to what many teens — and even some parents — believe about abusing Adderall, amphetamine is a highly addictive drug.
Prescription stimulants are usually safe for those they are prescribed, but even people under the supervision of a doctor are at risk of developing an addiction. Those who use Adderall without medical assistance to get high or fuel all-night study sessions are at risk of developing an addiction. Due to the likelihood of Adderall addiction, the U.S. government designated Adderall to the same drug classification as cocaine and methamphetamine.
Adderall Addiction Side Effects
Physical side effects of Adderall can emerge shortly after use. Adderall triggers the release of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in the brain. Prescribed users get a therapeutic benefit from it while recreational users who abuse this stimulant can get high. The following are some of the effects that may be experienced right after Adderall abuse:
- A sensation of excitement or being hyperactive
- Being talkative
- Thinking about things more than usual
- A feeling of impatience, worry, nervousness, and anxiety
- The illusion of wellness
- A desire to work
- Feeling social
- Getting insights about the meaning of life
These symptoms would be perceptible to someone in the immediate environment of the person who is abusing Adderall. However, the people who are most likely to be concerned about the Adderall abuse may not be around when it’s going on. For this reason, it can be helpful to know the short-term effects of Adderall, which can linger long enough to be perceived by family, friends, work colleagues, and classmates. Some of the more commonly reported side effects of Adderall abuse are:
- Sleep difficulties (falling asleep or staying asleep)
- Shaking uncontrollably in an area of the body, such as a leg
- Changes in one’s level of sexual interest
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss or malnutrition
In addition, a person may experience mental health side effects. Some of these symptoms are hallucinations and believing things that aren’t true. Serious side effects may be less common, but they can happen and it’s best to know what’s possible. The following are some of the most severe side effects associated with Adderall abuse:
- Pounding heartbeat or fast heart rate
- Chest pain
- Feeling faint, dizziness, or changes in vision
- Numbness in the arms or legs
- Slowed speech
- Exhaustion, fever, rash, or itching
- Shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing or breathing, or hoarseness
- Verbal or muscular tics
- Blistering or peeling skin, swelling of the throat, face, tongue, or eyes
Adderall abuse is also associated with long-term side effects. This drug is exceptionally addictive, which means abuse runs the risk of developing into a stimulant use disorder. It has also been noted that when an individual stops using Adderall (goes into withdrawal), they may experience suicidal thoughts, mania, panic, or nightmares.
There does not appear to be extensive information available about the impact of Adderall or other stimulants on the major organs or the brain in the long term. Note, however, that the way Adderall is administered can impact one’s health on a long-term basis. A person who crushes, liquefies, and injects the drug may experience collapsed veins. Those who crush and sniff Adderall may damage their nasal cavity.
How Do People Misuse Prescription Stimulants Like Adderall?
Most prescription stimulants come in tablet, capsule, or liquid form, which a person takes by mouth. Misuse of a prescription stimulant means:
- Taking medication in a way or dose other than prescribed
- Taking someone else’s medication
- Taking medication only for effect it causes—to get high
When misusing a prescription stimulant, people can consume the drug in its standard form. Alternatively, they can crush tablets or open the capsules, dissolve the powder in water, and inject the liquid into a vein. Some can also snort or smoke the powder. The brain of an addicted person is dependent on Adderall to stimulate alertness and productivity. Without Adderall, addicted people often feel tired and mentally foggy. These are symptoms of Adderall withdrawal, a vital sign of an Adderall addiction.
Overdose Symptoms Of Adderall Addiction And Misuse
It is very possible for a person suffering from Adderall Addiction to overdose from it, overall, with prescription stimulants, it is always possible for someone with an addiction problem to overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in the piece ‘Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts’, when people overdose on a prescription stimulant, they most commonly experience several different symptoms, including restlessness, tremors, overactive reflexes, rapid breathing, confusion, aggression, hallucinations, panic states, abnormally increased fever, muscle pains, and weakness.
They also may have heart problems, including an irregular heartbeat leading to a heart attack, nerve problems that can lead to a seizure, abnormally high or low blood pressure, and circulation failure. Stomach issues may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In addition, an overdose can result in convulsions, coma, and fatal poisoning.
In case of overdose, if the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services. A person can overdose on prescription stimulants such as Adderall. An overdose happens when the person uses enough of the drug to produce a life-threatening reaction or death.
Symptoms Of Adderall Addiction Overdose Include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Feelings of panic
- Hallucination (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
- Fast breathing
- Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- Dark red or cola-colored urine
- Muscle weakness or aching
- Tiredness or weakness
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Blurred vision
- Upset stomach
- Coma (loss of consciousness for some time)
Signs of Adderall Addiction
Adderall Addiction is a well-known condition in America. However, the fact that a prescription medication that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy can cause a severe addiction may be slightly surprising nonetheless. Despite being a prescription drug, in some cases, Adderall is abused by users who don’t have a prescription for the medication because it contains amphetamine, a potent stimulant. Adderall abuse falls within the stimulant use disorder category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5).
In the past, there was a clinical differentiation between physical dependence and addiction. However, DSM-5 has joined these concepts together under the rubric of substance use disorders (with each of nine drug categories having their own use disorder). For diagnostic purposes, a person has a substance use disorder, from mild to severe, depending on the number of symptoms they experience. Per the DSM-5, there are 11 listed symptoms. The following is a sample of the symptoms that can emerge as a result of a stimulant use disorder:
- Continuing to abuse Adderall even though it is causing physical and psychological problems
- Shirking responsibilities related to core spheres of life, such as family, work, or school, in order to abuse Adderall
- Taking higher doses of Adderall or taking it too frequently in order to get a high from it
- Having to consume more Adderall to get a similar high to that experienced with earlier use
- Withdrawal symptoms when the familiar amount of Adderall consumption drops
The group of individuals who abuse Adderall can be subdivided into at least two groups. Some obtained this drug as a result of having a medical condition for which it is indicated. This group typically will not develop a substance use disorder, provided they follow the prescribing doctor’s orders.
There are also those who do not have a medical need for Adderall and, through different means, obtain pills and abuse them with the intention to get high. The format of Adderall pills is often manipulated to potentiate the high. For instance, individuals who abuse Adderall may crush the pills and snort them, to deliver the stimulant faster to the brain and get a more intense euphoric rush.
Adderall Addiction Treatment
There are no approved medications to help treat an Adderall addiction. Instead, treatment is focused on supervising a person as they go through a detoxification process. Withdrawal from stimulants like Adderall can be extremely uncomfortable and stressful for the body. The doctor will refer the person to an outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation center or detox facility.
During rehab, doctors will help the person through the withdrawal process and make it easier to manage any withdrawal symptoms. It’s not recommended that someone quit Adderall cold turkey. Instead, the doctor will slowly lower the dosage under medical supervision. This is called tapering.
In general, the steps for treating an Adderall addiction include the following steps:
- Enroll in a supervised detox or rehab program
- Get a medical evaluation and assessment
- Taper Adderall under medical supervision
- Manage withdrawal symptoms
- Undergo psychotherapy or behavioral therapy
- Develop a plan for aftercare. This can include attending ongoing individual and group psychotherapy conducted by licensed therapists.
Doctors and therapists at We Level Up Washington center will help you understand how to live your life without the drug. They can help you find new, healthy coping skills to live your best life.
Reclaim your life from Adderall Addiction
Adderall addiction can become a chronic disease that may cause major health and social problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Washington center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from Adderall addiction with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine – National Center for Biotechnology Information
 Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts – National Institute on Drug Abuse
 Adderall Addiction – We Level Up, Adderall Addiction – We Level Up FL
 Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine – The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists / U.S. National Library of Medicine