Prescription Drug Addiction & Rehab

Adderall Addiction is Real: Why It’s a Problem

Adderall Addiction is Real: Why It's a Problem

Adderall, a drug used to treat ADHD, has been dubbed “the study drug“. Research on the growing Adderall addiction among college students found a 155% increase in emergency room visits for Adderall use.

College students experience a lot of stress to perform in a competitive environment. They may stay up late studying, work part-time, and face social pressure to “fit in”. Some of them turn to drugs like Adderall to try to find balance when their lives spin out of control.

When used as prescribed for disorders like ADHD, Adderall can help to focus, manage depression and sleep disorders. But it can be devastating when abused.

Read on to find out more about Adderall addiction and recovery solutions.

The Adderall Addiction Dilemma

Adderall is an amphetamine that stimulates the central nervous system much like cocaine. While it has a medicinal purpose, its properties have a high risk of abuse and addiction because it speeds up and heightens certain body functions.

Unprescribed doses of Adderall are highly addictive. Using it regularly develops a tolerance for the drug. Users become dependent on the drug to function daily.

Young adults between 18 and 22 are most at risk for Adderall addiction. Studies have found most college students using the study drug for better school performance get access to the drug through friends who have prescriptions.

Addiction Happens Quickly

It’s easier to get addicted to Adderall than most people think. Most users don’t intend to become dependent on the drug. For example, a friend may offer you a pill when you have a project to complete and need more energy or are feeling under the weather.

The immediate effects you experience with the drug can be very positive. That’s because Adderall increases dopamine, a feel-good chemical, in your brain. The brain produces dopamine naturally, but the drug increases the production of dopamine. The addict must continue to increase the use of the drug to get the same level of euphoria.

Once you begin using the drug, you need larger doses to perform at work or at school. Without it, you are unable to function.

Without a prescription, you will end up paying lots of money for the drug wherever you can get it. And you will be unconcerned about the harm it’s doing to your body.

Access to Adderall

Most access to Adderall by addicts is illicit. More than 60% of students using Adderall get it from friends. Here are some other ways people get Adderall illicitly:

  • Faking ADHD symptoms to get a prescription
  • Taking someone else’s prescription
  • Buying from someone for recreational use

As addiction progresses, an addict may try to get Adderall on the street. Street names for Adderall are speed, addys, uppers, pep pills, or black beauties.

Addicts may also begin taking higher doses or taking the drug more frequently to stay functional and to prevent crashing. Some people crush up and snort Adderall for quicker effect.

If someone you know is in danger of Adderall addiction, here are some things you can do:

  • Provide education about the risks of Adderall misuse
  • Talk to them about the signs and symptoms of addiction
  • Track and monitor use or prescription drugs in the home
  • Keep all drugs in a secure place

Learning about the dangers of addiction to Adderall is the first step toward beginning the recovery process.

Addiction Symptoms and Side Effects

Initially, Adderall users will feel productive and alert. But when they don’t take the drug, they begin to feel tired and foggy headed. This is a sign of addiction.

Following are just a few of the side effects you may experience with the unmonitored use of Adderall:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Digestive issues
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty sleeping

Prolonged use of the drug can lead to more serious issues like seizures, paranoia, or aggressive behavior. And an overdose could lead to tremors, hallucinations, or even a coma.

If Adderall is abused over an extended period, it could result in a heart attack or a stroke. And if mixed with alcohol, it could lead to alcohol poisoning and death.

The amount of time it takes to stop using Adderall depends on the size of the dosage you take and how often you take the drug

Withdrawal can cause suicidal thoughts and has the opposite effect of how you feel when you take the drug. For example, taking the drug will give you feelings of energy, focus, and euphoria. Withdrawal will result in feelings of sluggishness, confusion, and depression.

Treating Adderall Addiction

The type of treatment used to recover from Adderall addiction depends on the severity of the addiction.

There are many rehab centers, detox services, and psychological treatments that can provide help and support for recovery. Treatment strategies can include contingency management, cognitive behavioral therapy, and support for tapering down the drug use or cold turkey withdrawal.

Make sure you find a treatment center that has ethical practices and proven results.

Treatment centers will require a few weeks to several months stay to withdraw and detoxify from the drug and reach full recovery. If you want to get off the drug cold turkey, you will need a treatment center, because of the risks involved with the symptoms triggered by sudden withdrawal.

For less severe addiction, a detox clinic can help you get off, the drug slowly. Cold turkey withdrawal should be done in a residential center to monitor risks of symptoms and relapse.

Regardless of whether you choose residential treatment, a psychiatrist or psychologist can help with counseling to deal with anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts. Once you recover, a social worker can help you to find employment, housing and help you get back into your social life successfully.

Remember that recovery from addiction is not easy and you can’t do it alone. Throughout the process, family, church and community support groups are essential to getting your life back on track.

Finding the Right Treatment for You

Walking the journey of addiction recovery can be very difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are many substance abuse treatment centers and services that will guide you and support you through the process.

Remember that every journey begins with the first step. At Find Rehab Centers for Addiction Treatment, we offer free online resources for addiction recovery services nationwide.

About the author

Dr. Michael Carlton, MD.

Leading addictionologist, Michael Carlton, M.D. has over 25 years of experience as a medical practitioner. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and returned for his MD from the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona in 1990. He completed his dual residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and his Fellowship in Toxicology at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

He has published articles in the fields of toxicology and biomedicine, crafted articles for WebMD, and lectured to his peers on medication-assisted treatment. Dr. Carlton was a medical director of Community Bridges and medically supervised the medical detoxification of over 30,000 chemically dependent patients annually.

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