Understanding Adderall Use, Abuse, Addiction & Recovery

doctor prescribing adderall to a young female student

Adderall is Often Prescribed for ADHD

Facts About Adderall

  • Adderall is a prescription drug made up of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine
  • It is primarily subscribed for the purposes of treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Sometimes a doctor will prescribe Adderall for an “off-label” use, such as severe depression or narcolepsy
  • Adderall, a central nervous system stimulant, speeds up and heightens certain bodily processes
  • Since its initial approval in 1996, prescriptions for Adderall2 have more than tripled

Adderall is a legal prescription drug that’s abused in a number of ways. Some people will take more pills that prescribed to get high, while others might snort it.

Prevalence in the Educational System

According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of American College Health, two-thirds of students are offered Adderall or other stimulants by their senior year of college1, and nearly half of them say yes. Many students take Adderall to stay awake and accomplish tasks, while others may substitute it for another stimulant they regularly take.

Symptoms/Signs of Adderall Use

Like many prescription drugs, Adderall has some unpleasant side effects for the user – even when using it as prescribed. Abusing Adderall can give more intense side effects and can be quite dangerous. A person on Adderall may seem shaky, nervous or high-strung.

Adderall works by increasing the availability of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine in the brain, increasing the user’s alertness and energy levels. They may be obsessive about certain tasks or act euphoric. Some people who abuse Adderall will grind their teeth while they are high.

A user who is high on Adderall may sweat a lot or have an increased heart rate. They may become overheated easily. When they can’t use Adderall, they may be irritable, have anxiety attacks, or act otherwise agitated. Users who abuse Adderall will experience a crash when the drug’s effect wears off, which often leads to seeking more supply of the drug.

Long-Term Dangers of Adderall Abuse

Chronic Adderall use can lead to physical and mental addiction. Abusers will typically develop a tolerance that requires more and more of the drug to get high. Long-term abuse can lead to many physical as well as psychological problems. Some users will experience a fast, pounding heartbeat and lose their appetite while on Adderall. Chronic Adderall use can lead to malnutrition, as well as diarrhea and constipation.

Other chronic Adderall users can suffer from chest pain, slowed and difficult speech, and muscle weakness. Some will develop blisters and pick at their skin, while others suffer from heart attacks or seizures.

Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Dependency/Addiction

Adderall is a dangerous drug to abuse. It can have long-lasting health ramifications and users risk death if they overdose. When an Adderall user develops a tolerance, they will require more of the drug to experience the pleasurable effects of the drug. One major risk of addiction is the likelihood to transition to stronger and more readily available substances whch provide a smiliar (albeit much more intense) sensation like crystal meth.

As a user spirals towards addiction, they will engage in increasingly risky drug-seeking behavior. This may involve stockpiling their pills or hiding them in multiple places. Some users will visit multiple doctors in hopes of getting extra prescriptions. If their supply of the prescription runs out, and they’re experiencing withdrawal, a user might buy Adderall off the street.

Many people who are addicted to Adderall and other drugs will suffer negative consequences, but they will be unable to stop using on their own. It can affect their relationships, jobs, and school life. Some Adderall addicts suffer financial and legal problems as a result of their addiction.

If an Adderall user tries to quit using, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as severe anxiety and depression. People coming off of Adderall often describe vivid dreams, have an increase in hunger, and sometimes have troubles with their sex drives. They may seem confused or disconnected when spoken to.

Adderall is a highly addictive drug with serious withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, substance abuse experts advise that chronic Adderall users participate in a supervised detox or tapering program. A safe, clean clinical environment can help Adderall dependent individuals get clean safely and comfortably, and doctors can monitor the patient for any serious complications.

Getting Help for an Adderall Problem

If you think you may have a problem with Adderall or another drug, we want you to know that you are in the right place. Many users have been able to salvage their lives and learn to cope without the use of drugs. We want you to know there is hope and health in the future for you.

Professional services like inpatient or outpatient treatment can be an important path to recovery for somebody addicted to stimulants. You deserve to reclaim your life and start on a path to recovery. Please give us call to discuss your treatment options. All phone calls are 100% confidential and we’ll answer any questions you may have.

1.Aided by Adderall: Illicit Use of ADHD Medications by College Students, available here.
2.Psychopharmacology: concepts and opinions about the use of stimulant medications, available here.