Many people are familiar with Adderall and its benefits when used to help alleviate the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adderall has also shown positive effects in helping people manage symptoms of narcolepsy. Available by prescription only, Adderall is a combination drug containing amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall is classified as a stimulant and is frequently misused for the effects the individual components of the drug produces. When abused, Adderall can have effects similar to those produced by methamphetamine, an illegally manufactured stimulant drug.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription medication commonly prescribed by mental health professionals to alleviate the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults and teens. Although the drug is highly effective when used as prescribed, it remains a controlled substance as it is frequently misused or obtained illegally and resold to individuals without prescriptions. Adderall helps manage ADHD symptoms by encouraging the brain to produce higher amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain, is responsible for essential functions throughout the body, including regulating feelings of happiness and pleasure. Norepinephrine, another naturally occurring chemical in the central nervous system, is responsible for the rate at which the brain responds to stimuli from outside the body.
How Does Adderall Addiction Develop?
Adderall addiction can happen gradually without you even realizing it. At first, you may think you have your usage under control and that you can stop at any time. But soon, you find yourself needing Adderall just to feel normal and function during the day. How did this happen?
Adderall works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, which makes you feel good and enhances your focus and motivation. Over time, your brain adapts to the extra dopamine and reduces its dopamine production. This means you need more and more Adderall to feel its effects. If you stop taking it, dopamine levels crash and withdrawal symptoms emerge.
Some signs that Adderall addiction may be developing include:
- Needing to take higher or more frequent doses to feel its effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, depression, or irritability when not taking it
- Strong cravings or urges to take Adderall
- Continuing to use despite physical or psychological problems
- Giving up or reducing social, occupational, or recreational activities because of Adderall use
The truth is, that anyone who takes Adderall regularly can become addicted, especially if misusing the medication by taking higher doses or more often than prescribed. The risk is even higher for those with a history of drug addiction or mental health issues.
Adderall addiction is a serious problem, but there is hope. Speaking to your doctor about adjusting or stopping the medication, behavioral therapies, and support groups can help overcome addiction and learn to manage ADHD symptoms in healthier ways. The path to recovery may not be easy, but with commitment and the right resources, you can break free from Adderall addiction.
What Causes Adderall Addiction?
A substance use disorder (SUD) is a condition in which a person becomes addicted to a substance. SUD can develop quickly and visibly, or it can develop slowly and invisibly. There are many factors that contribute to the development of SUD, and two people using Adderall in the same way can have very different SUD experiences. If you are prescribed Adderall, it will reduce your risk of developing SUD. Anytime you abuse Adderall, you are more likely to develop SUD. Nobody should attempt to self-administer Adderall.
Symptoms of Adderall Addiction
Instead of screening for Adderall addict symptoms, many drug and alcohol counselors screen for stimulant addict symptoms. Stimulant use disorder is a diagnostic mental health condition that includes symptoms of addiction, dependency and tolerance. While there are many diagnostic factors for stimulant use disorders, a person only has to present with two to be diagnosed.
Symptoms of an Adderall addiction include:
- Taking the drug more often or in larger doses than intended
- A desire to or unsuccessful attempts to stop the use
- Spending a lot of time getting, using, and recovering from Adderall use
- Strong urges to use Adderall
- Struggling to complete responsibilities at home, work, or school
- Still using despite a negative impact on physical, mental, or social health
- Shifting priorities, interests, and relationships
- Needing more Adderall to produce the previous effect
- Feeling ill or uncomfortable when no Adderall is available
Signs of Adderall Overdose
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
The last thing mentioned above is “Adderall withdrawal.” This is a sign that you’re addicted to Adderall. When the drug leaves your body, your body’s balance system is out of whack, so you’ll experience many of the same withdrawal symptoms that you’d experience if you were addicted to stimulants. When you take Adderall, you won’t feel the high energy and “rush” that comes with it. Instead, you’ll feel like you’ve hit a wall.
Symptoms of Adderall withdrawal may include:
- Low mood
- Low energy
- Little interest in usual activities
- Poor self-esteem
- Increased need for sleep
- Higher appetite
- Aches and pains
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Strong cravings for Adderall
- Desire to restart substance use
Some symptoms may only last for a few days, while some depressive effects can last for several weeks after the last use.
Can You Get Addicted to Adderall?
As with any other drugs that impact dopamine production, dependency on the feelings produced by Adderall can develop quickly. Even when used as directed, Adderall impacts how you react to external stimuli. Normal day-to-day events that used to produce feelings of joy and pleasure become insufficient to produce the same level of reaction achieved with Adderall. In time, tolerance to the effects of the drug develops and, shortly thereafter, addiction. When you are addicted to Adderall, you crave the effects of the drug and believe that you must use it to feel content and alert.
Additionally, because Adderall impacts the rate at which the brain produces norepinephrine, users who have developed a tolerance to Adderall believe they must take larger and more frequent doses to feel the same level of alertness and productivity they used to feel without Adderall or with smaller doses. When you try to reduce the amount you take or quit using Adderall entirely, users report brain fog or feelings of lethargy and confusion because their brain is not producing norepinephrine at the levels it was when they were taking Adderall.
It is important to note that Adderall addiction, like many other stimulant drugs, can produce a range of symptoms, especially when you try to stop using. These include anxiety, dizziness, difficulty sleeping, appetite changes, headaches, new or worsening mental health symptoms, hallucinations, heart problems, and various other potentially dangerous effects. Because of these, it is important to withdraw from Adderall under the support and care of trained professionals at an addiction rehab like Relevance Recovery.
How to Get Help with Adderall Addiction
Detoxing from Adderall can be dangerous. This is especially true if your addiction is severe and you struggle with intense, potentially life-threatening symptoms as you try to cleanse your system of the effects of the drug. For many, although they are ready to begin their journey toward sobriety, the process of getting and staying sober from Adderall addiction is not easy. If you or a loved one are prepared to put Adderall addiction in the past, it is important to choose a setting where skilled therapy providers can provide the support and guidance you need through the earliest and most difficult stages of detox and withdrawal.
At Relevance Recovery, our treatment team is here to guide you through each stage of detox, therapy, and comprehensive aftercare planning to ensure the most well-rounded, holistic recovery experience possible. To learn more about our programs and how we can help you overcome Adderall addiction, contact our admissions team today.