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Adderall Addiction and Treatment

Identify the signs of Adderall addiction and learn about how the right Adderall addiction treatment can help you or your loved one.

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Adderall Addiction and Abuse

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What is Adderall

Adderall is the brand name for a class of Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant drugs prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and narcolepsy. This stimulant drug is composed of a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

Adderall is an immediate-release drug, with effects typically lasting between 4-6 hours. In its extended-release form, Adderall XR, the dose is released over time, and effects last for about 12 hours.

Adderall and Adderall XR is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). It cannot be obtained without a prescription from a qualified medical professional.

How Does Adderall Affect the Brain

Adderall works to bring the brain down from the state of overstimulation experienced by ADD and ADHD patients. It increases activity levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain. These increased levels help to control hyperactivity and impulsivity while inciting focus and alertness.

In addition to its use as a treatment for ADD and ADHD, the only other use of Adderall approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  is in treating narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes excessive and uncontrollable sleepiness and fatigue. Patients with narcolepsy are prescribed Adderall to help them feel awake and alert so that they can function in everyday life.

Is Adderall Addictive

Yes, Adderall is highly addictive. Prescription amphetamines like Adderall are categorized as Schedule II controlled substances by the DEA because the risk of abuse and addiction is high. The impact and pharmacology of Adderall addiction are similar to that of meth.

Adderall triggers the availability of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. For many people, this creates an addictive pathway. An uptake in dopamine makes someone feel rewarded, while increased norepinephrine produces a feeling of euphoria. Adderall creates an unnaturally high balance of both of these substances in the brain.

Signs of Adderall Addiction

When Adderall is not taken as prescribed or is taken without a prescription, the risk of addiction is high. One of the main signs of Adderall addiction is an increased intolerance to the drug.

Other common signs and symptoms of Adderall abuse:​
  • Needing higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects as initial lower doses
  • Wanting to use it less, but not being able to
  • Using it despite uncomfortable and dangerous side-effects
  • Spending a large amount of time recovering from Adderall use
  • Stealing Adderall for personal use or obtaining prescriptions illegally
  • Using the drug in other manners such as insufflation (inhaling or snorting) or injection
  • Neglect of familial, work, or household duties to use Adderall

Who Abuses Adderall

Adderall abuse is widespread among college students, with more than 1 in 5 college students using it to cope with the stress of meeting academic demands. More than half of college students who have an Adderall prescription either sold or were asked to sell their medication.

Night shift workers in all fields often use it to curb the effects of natural drowsiness and to be able to focus at work. Athletes commonly abuse Adderall as it can give them a competitive edge. Because Adderall also works as an appetite suppressant, many abuse it to help with weight loss goals.

As it is used recreationally, the scope of Adderall abuse is almost limitless, with severe potential consequences.

Side-Effects of Adderall

There are many side-effects of Adderall abuse. One of the most prevalent is sleep difficulties and increased heart rate. Many also have problems breathing and shortness of breath.

Other side-effects of Adderall addiction:
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings and aggressive behavior
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Uncontrollable tremors
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Paranoia and mania
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations

Adderall and Alcohol

The FDA has issued many warnings of the effects of mixing substances, especially prescription amphetamines like Adderall and alcohol.

Alcohol reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of many drugs, which leads to an overuse of the substances. Despite not feeling the effects, it is increasingly common for someone to overdose on Adderall due to the effects of alcohol.

Many users try to negate the less than desirable side-effects of Adderall by using alcohol. Some users combine the substances to feel a more intense effect for longer. This combination contributes to notable stress to the cardiovascular system.

Short-term issues include high blood pressure, with long-term effects being problems with memory, problem-solving, depression, and potentially psychosis.

The most prevalent side-effects of combining Adderall and alcohol are nausea, vomiting, dehydration, and a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD).


Adderall Addiction Treatment

The best way to recover from an Adderall addiction is to seek professional help. In some cases, staging an intervention is the first step in getting help for the person addicted to Adderall. An intervention is when concerned family and friends meet with the loved one to encourage them to seek help for their addiction.

Interventions should only be conducted under the care of an intervention specialist. A professional rehab facility can help coordinate an intervention specialist for you. To help find a rehab facility or intervention specialist, please call one of our treatment navigators now for an assessment and recommendation.

Treatment for Adderall addiction should also only be done through a professional rehabilitation program, in either an outpatient or, most preferably, an inpatient setting. An inpatient treatment program’s environment and support make it more effective in achieving full recovery. Continuing treatment in an outpatient program after initial inpatient treatment helps sustain sobriety and lower the risk of relapse.

Treatment usually includes a medical detoxification process combined with behavioral therapies such as group therapy, individual counseling, and support groups. 

These approaches are used to identify the root of the addictive behavior and help the patient learn to cope without using the drug, and combat the psychological effects of addiction.

Detox from Adderall

It is not recommended to immediately stop Adderall use abruptly when severely addicted. The most effective form of Adderall detox is weaning the patient off the drug by tapering down the doses slowly to prevent intense and potentially dangerous withdrawal. This detox process should only be done under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional or treatment facility to manage the dangerous withdrawal symptoms and lower the risk of relapse.

Adderall Withdrawal

The symptoms of Adderall withdrawal are often the opposite of the drug’s effects and will be dependent on the nature of the abuse. Abuse that lasted a while or consisted of higher doses can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms.

Effects of Adderall withdrawal:
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • increased appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sleep difficulties such as falling asleep and staying asleep
  • Headaches
  • Cravings for the drug

The duration of withdrawal is different for everyone. Factors affecting the duration of withdrawal include the dosage and frequency of abuse of the drug. Some people experience withdrawal effects for five days, whereas it may last two weeks or more for others.

Therapies Used in Adderall Addiction Treatment

One-on-one counseling is one of the biggest focuses of Adderall addiction treatment programs.

Common therapies in treating Adderall Addiction:
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: CBT is widely used in addiction treatment. These sessions will help the patient identify their triggers, develop tools to cope with negative thoughts, and overcome the behavioral patterns that can influence addiction.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: DBT was first developed to treat patients suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder and other mental illnesses of a similar nature. When used for addiction recovery, DBT helps the patient manage their emotions, behavior, and surroundings. The focus of DBT is to help the patient remove triggers, boost self-esteem, and manage stress in order to maintain sobriety.
  • 12 Step Programs: After the 12 Step Program’s success, created by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, many other drug addiction support groups adopted their ethos. The 12 Steps are usually based on spiritual or religious principles and foster a feeling of support and accountability in the recovering addict.

Recovery from Adderall Addiction

Full recovery from Adderall addiction is possible. Finding the right care providers and engaging in a sober recovery community improves the chances of recovery and long-term sobriety drastically.

Our team is committed to helping families recover after the devastating side-effects of various addictions. Finding an appropriate facility to help wean off the drug, recover from the addiction, and teach the appropriate skills to cope with life’s challenges is vital for achieving your full recovery. If you or a loved one needs assistance with determining if you have an addiction or finding the right facility for you, reach out today. Out Treatment Navigators are standing by right now to help guide you on the road to recovery. You are not alone, and there are people who want to help. Reach out to one now. 

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