Many people believe that only illicit drugs have the potential to be addictive. However, the reality is far different from this myth. People can also misuse legally prescribed medications, which can lead to dependency. A prominent example of this is Adderall addiction.
Adderall is a drug commonly prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. In this blog, we’re shedding light on the risks of getting addicted to it. We’re also offering practical guidance for seeking help.
What is Adderall?
Considered a stimulant, Adderall contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. The US Food and Drug Administration approved it to treat two specific conditions, including ADHD in adults and children and narcolepsy.
ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder marked by being overly active and having difficulty staying focused and controlling impulsive behaviors. Narcolepsy, on the other hand, is a chronic neurological condition that affects sleep-wake cycles.
Adderall helps manage hyperactivity and inattention among ADHD patients. Moreover, it alleviates excessive daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy.
There are cases when physicians employ Adderall for off-label purposes: They may prescribe it for conditions other than ADHD and narcolepsy. For instance, they may use it to address depression that doesn’t respond to other treatments or to manage depression in individuals with co-occurring ADHD.
They may also use it to manage anxiety and bipolar disorder, especially when they coincide with ADHD. This particular drug has the potential to alleviate symptoms and improve such conditions.
From Prescription to Problem: The Path to Addiction
While this drug can help manage various disorders, the risks of Adderall cannot be underestimated. One of the most critical aspects to understand about Adderall is its potential for habit-forming behavior. This is why experts advise against sharing it with individuals with a history of substance abuse.
Adderall can aid in improved focus, address specific conditions, and enable you to lead a more fulfilling life. However, exceeding the prescribed dosage may lead to dependence on its benefits. What initially began as legitimate medication usage can escalate into a full-blown addiction, negatively impacting your health.
Here are the most common signs of Adderall addiction to watch out for.
- Having the inability to complete tasks without Adderall
- Relying on Adderall for alertness
- Needing increased doses before you can feel the drug’s effects
- Using the drug continuously despite awareness of its harm
- Having the urge to reduce usage but lacking the ability to do so
- Prioritizing Adderall over other activities
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms in the drug’s absence
- Spending significant time and money to obtain, use, and recover from the drug
To avoid falling down the path to addiction, you must always consult a healthcare professional and follow their prescribed dosage.
The Appeal of Adderall
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that the drug requires a physician’s prescription. Plus, it’s associated with a substantial risk of misuse.
Though not everyone using it will be addicted to this drug, those taking it in non-prescribed doses are more susceptible to Adderall abuse and addiction. They will develop a tolerance and, over time, find it challenging to function without it. After all, Adderall elevates happy hormones, which induce rewarding sensations.
This drug particularly appeals to specific populations, including students and professionals (especially those with high-stress jobs). Adderall’s capacity to enhance focus and prolonged wakefulness are benefits students and working professionals need.
A study shows that full-time college students are twice as likely to misuse it compared to their non-college peers. Factors that increase the risk include having acquaintances who have abused prescription stimulants, high stress levels, and gender, with males being more susceptible.
Athletes also experience greater risk. Stimulant abuse in sports is a persistent issue in the country (and beyond), and Adderall is one of those drugs that athletes use to combat fatigue and boost performance — whether during practice or sports events. In fact, the National Football League saw a substantial number of drug-related suspensions back in 2012, and the misuse of Adderall is a significant contributor.
Additionally, people with eating disorders may also resort to Adderall to suppress their appetite.
Health Risks of Adderall Addiction
Drugs like Adderall are addictive because they offer some temporary benefits that people crave. However, while these short-term perks may seem promising, they don’t take away the fact that the consequences of misuse are much graver.
Some of the immediate health risks include the following:
- Sleep issues
- Elevated body temperature
- Headaches and dizziness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Visual changes
- Changes in sexual performance of desire
Apart from these, Adderall can also lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure. In some cases, misuse can result in heart attacks. If you combine Adderall with other drugs, cardiac arrest can also be a consequence. Commonly combined substances include alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and Xanax.
Addiction with Adderall can also take a toll on your mental health, causing hallucinations and paranoia. If you already have an existing mental health condition, the drug can further exacerbate it. Chronic misuse can cause you to experience mood swings, anxiety, depression — and an overall decline in your mental well-being.
There’s also a high risk of potential overdose. Too much consumption of this drug can be life-threatening.
In the long run, long-term Adderall use can lead to addiction. Your addiction can then cause you to develop heart, kidney, and liver issues or worsen any of your pre-existing conditions. When addiction is already involved, it becomes a whole different story because it affects your health and the relationships you share with the people around you. Addiction can also negatively affect your work/school performance, finances, and reputation.
Collaborating closely with a healthcare provider while taking Adderall is essential to monitor and address potential concerns. And if you or someone you know is grappling with addiction, seeking help is imperative.
Consult a healthcare professional, and let them evaluate the addiction’s severity and provide recommendations on possible treatment options. Detox programs aid in managing withdrawal symptoms effectively.
Additionally, therapies can help identify triggers for misuse and develop healthier coping strategies. Meanwhile, joining support groups for those with similar challenges offers a sense of community and understanding during recovery.
Both illicit and prescription drugs can cause addiction. Adderall, which treats ADHD and narcolepsy, can be misused, especially by students, athletes, professionals with demanding jobs, and people with eating disorders.
Adderall addiction presents both short- and long-term effects, ranging from headaches and sleep concerns to mental health decline. But while this kind of addiction may be rampant, help is available.
At Pacific Crest Trail, you or someone you know can access various treatment programs to help you recover and discover the way back to a healthier, happier life. Get in touch today.