Adderall abuse

Showing Signs & Symptoms

Prescription stimulants like Adderall have a proper use in medicine. For certain patients, this class of drugs can greatly improve functioning and quality of life. However, Adderall is a widely misused drug among healthy teens and young adults, which can have devastating consequences. To learn the signs and symptoms of Adderall abuse, please read on.

Facts About Adderall

Adderall is the brand name for dextroamphetamine, a prescription stimulant. It works by raising levels of dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. For patients who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy, Adderall is safe and effective and doesn’t cause any stimulant effects. 

Sometimes healthy people choose to misuse Adderall just to enjoy the stimulant effects. The increased dopamine causes a “feel good” euphoric effect, which is then recorded in the brain’s reward system. This sets the person up to repeat the Adderall use, which can later lead to addiction.

The increased norepinephrine speeds up the brain’s response time to stimuli. This effect improves mental clarity and cognition, and reduces the need for sleep, thus making the drug popular with students.

With continued misuse, the drug can be quite dangerous. In fact, Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance due to its high potential for abuse and addiction. This is the same DEA status given to morphine, fentanyl and other narcotics.

Adderall Side Effects

Not all Adderall effects are positive. There are several adverse effects that are commonly reported among those who use the drug. These include:

  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth.
  • Muscle twitches.
  • Headache
  • Shaking
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Vision changes.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Chest pain.
  • Rash or itching.
  • Slowed speech.

Dangers of Adderall Abuse

When someone continues to abuse Adderall, it will increase the risk of a serious health and mental health event. These include:

  • Substance use disorder. Adderall misuse causes changes in the brain. The brain records the effects of Adderall as a pleasant experience to be repeated, and sets the stage for addiction.
  • Mental health problems. Mental health issues are a possible side effect of long-term Adderall abuse. Some of these include paranoia, anxiety, depression, mania, mood swings, or mental confusion.
  • Heart arrhythmia. One of the serious adverse effects of Adderall is irregular heartbeat. This may result from mixing the Adderall with other substances for an enhanced high.
  • Stroke. Because Adderall is a stimulant it causes the body systems to speed up. This can result in a faster heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased breathing rates, raising the risk of stroke.

Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Abuse and Addiction

At first, you may think your friend or family member is just in great spirits. They come across as happy, motivated, and energized. However, as the substance abuse continues, symptoms like weight loss, mood swings, and agitation start to show up.

Signs and symptoms of Adderall abuse include:

  • Euphoria
  • Nervousness
  • Unable to focus or complete work without the drug.
  • Doctor shopping.
  • Sudden increase in energy.
  • More social than in the past.
  • Reduced appetite; weight loss.
  • Angry or hostile behavior.
  • Agitation
  • Overly talkative.
  • Dizziness
  • Increased attentiveness.
  • Paranoid thoughts.
  • Decreased sleep.
  • Nosebleeds
  • Signs of intravenous use, such as track marks or abscesses.
  • Symptoms of depression.

Adderall Detox and Withdrawal

It is always best to go through the detox process in a supervised medical detox setting. Without medical support, it is highly likely the person will succumb to cravings for the drug and return to using Adderall.

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During a medical detox, a doctor prescribes ever-lower doses to help reduce the effects of withdrawal. This is called a drug taper, and allows the system to slowly get used to the lower doses.

Adderall withdrawal symptoms are highly uncomfortable, both physically and psychologically, mostly due to the boomerang effects. Withdrawal can take 5-7 days, or longer for someone with a long history of Adderall abuse.

Adderall withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Trembling
  • Cravings
  • Panic attacks.
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Phobia
  • Mood swings.
  • Intense hunger.
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts.

The medical detox team monitors vital signs and withdrawal symptoms throughout the process, using meds to reduce discomfort. Psychological support is also available during withdrawal to assist with depression or suicidal thoughts.

Adderall Addiction Treatment

Completing detox is a great first step in recovery, but without treatment the chances for sustaining abstinence are small. Without a comprehensive treatment program to guide recovery, the addiction behaviors will simply resurface. Thus, rehab provides the person with much-needed coping tools, new behavior choices, and relapse prevention strategies. 

Treatment for Adderall addiction involves multiple therapies, both evidence-based psychotherapies and holistic methods. By engaging in these activities, you learn how to live without a need for pills. 

After detox, here is what to expect at an addiction treatment program:

  • Therapy. Evidence-based therapies, like CBT, contingency management, and motivational interviewing, are effective for stimulant use disorders, like Adderall. Therapy sessions will include meeting one-on-one with a licensed therapist as well as group sessions.
  • Life skills. Students who have come to depend on Adderall learn new ways to cope with stress and to organize their workload.
  • Lifestyle changes. Restoring physical health in recovery is a priority. Learning the importance of getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and including daily exercise is key. The effect of a healthy lifestyle is lower stress levels and clearer thinking.
  • Holistic. Holistic methods teach relaxation techniques that will become part of the recovery routine. These include mindfulness meditation, yoga, and breath work.

Someone you care about may be engaging in Adderall abuse and showing signs and symptoms of addiction or dependence. If so, know that this is a treatable condition. Encourage them to reach out for help today.

Annandale Behavioral Health Luxury Residential Addiction Recovery

Annandale Behavioral Health offers Adderall detox, rehabilitation, and case management within a luxury treatment setting. If you are struggling with Adderall, know that there is help available for you. Contact us to learn more about the program at (855) 778-8668