Adderall Abuse and Addiction: Not Worth the Buzz
Adderall is one of the most widely prescribed drugs on the market today. And while it has undoubtedly helped an enormous number of people across the world, it's also one of the most widely abused prescription medications as well.
Whether it's taken to simply keep people awake so the party lasts a little longer or if it's used to help students prepare for an upcoming test, the bottom line is if Adderall is taken outside of how its prescribed by a doctor, it's considered abuse.
What's more, abusing these substances can lead to a whole host of both physical and psychological problems down the line as well as a crippling and life altering addiction.Get Help Today
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What is Adderall?
It's currently used mainly to treat the symptoms of ADHD in children and adults but its history is actually closely tied to weight loss solutions.
Adderall, first introduced to the market in 1996, is a combination of four chemicals in particular:
- Amphetamine aspartate monohydrate
- Amphetamine sulfate
- Dextroamphetamine saccharate
- Dextroamphetamine sulfate
Rexar's Obetrol, a weight loss pill marketed in the 1970s, was recalled after it was proven ineffective by the Drug Efficacy Study Implementation program. Rather than abandoning the product altogether, the manufacturers decided to simply replace two of the drug's components with amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
For several years the product continued under the same branding for the same weight loss purpose. In 1994, however, Obetrol pivoted and began being marketed as a treatment for ADHD as it is today, changing its name to Adderall along the way.
Prescription Adderall is used to treat a number of conditions but the most common one is undoubtedly ADHD. According to the American Psychiatric Association, this condition (also known as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is one of the most common mental disorders among children but also affects a large number of adults as well.
In fact, it's estimated that ADHD affects 5% of all children and 2.5% of all adults. To put those numbers into perspective, that's around 3 million children with ADHD and 6 million adults in the United States alone.
There are three main prescription medications used to treat ADHD today, each of which is a combination of the dextroamphetamine and amphetamine compounds listed above. These prescriptions, according to MedlinePlus, are:
- Adderall - used to treat ADHD in adults and children 3 years and older.
- Adderall XR - used to treat ADHD in adults and children 6 years and older.
- Mydayis - used to treat ADHD in adults and children 13 years and older.
Adderall is also sometimes used to treat the symptoms of narcolepsy as well.
Adderall, along with Adderall XR and Mydavis, all affect the brain in the same way - they act as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. In general, this class of drugs increases the activity of the body and mind. A few other CNS stimulants are:
Adderall has two main mechanisms of action. On the one hand, it helps stimulate the production and release of three key neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These chemicals are instrumental in maintaining focus, improving mood, and having increased energy.
The more of these neurotransmitters you have floating around in your brain, the better the odds are of them pairing up with receptors on your neurons and causing the effects above.
Adderall also intensifies the effects of these chemicals by preventing them from being absorbed back into the cells. So rather than a molecule of these neurotransmitters only being able to affect your cells once, Adderall lets them work over and over again, intensifying the effects even more.
How is Mydayis Abused?
Like many other prescription medications today (especially opioids), Adderall XR and other products like it are becoming highly abused substances.
Like other types of substance use disorders, Adderall abuse can be found individuals of any gender, race, sexuality, nationality, or religion.
Adderall is abused to achieve a number of different effects. First, some people use it primarily to achieve a kind of "high." As NIDA points out, the rapid and significant release of dopamine that Mydayis and other similar drugs can cause can lead users to feel euphoric and uplifted for a short period.
However, there is often another motivation behind abuse besides just using Adderall to get high. In fact, rather than using this drug during times of leisure, many people actually abuse Adderall to become more productive.
High school and college students, for example, may pop a few Adderall pills to help them cram before a big test. Or a businessman will abuse his prescription to give him the energy and focus he needs to work through the night.
No matter the end goal of abuse though, the bottom line is that any time these drugs are taken outside of a doctor's orders is considered abuse and is illegal. Beyond that though, doing so can also lead to a lot of nasty side effects and, of course, a higher risk of developing an actual addiction.
Abusing stimulants like Adderall carries with it a number of problematic side effects but the most dangerous of them all is the risk of fatal overdose.
As the amphetamine continually interacts with the brain's complex systems, it can sometimes overload them and result in convulsions or coma which can be life threatening.
It's incredibly important, then, that you learn to spot the signs of Adderall overdose and quickly get the lifesaving help you need. Signs of overdose include:
- Feelings of panic
- Fast breathing
- Muscle weakness or aching
- Blurred vision
- Upset stomach
- Irregular heartbeat
- Dark red urine
- Uncontrollable shaking
Adderall Side Effects: Long Term & Short Term
There are a wide variety of both long-term and short-term effects of abusing adderall.
Short-Term Side Effects of Adderall XR Abuse
The list of short-term side effects of Mydayis and other similar stimulants is a long one indeed.
According to MedlinePlus, it includes:
- Changes in sex drive
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Painful cramps
- Sleep disturbances
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
What's more, these side effects only become more intense when Adderall is abused. At even higher doses, these types of stimulants have also been shown to lead to serious cardiovascular complications including stroke.
Long-Term Effects of Adderall Abuse
While taking Mydayis and similar drugs in the short-term can definitely lead to some damaging side effects, there are a few serious long-term side effects of Adderall abuse as well.
On the physical side, amphetamines like Adderall may bring with them a number of risks, including:
- Reduced physical immunity
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Risk of brain damage
- Co-occurring addictions and complications that arise from them
Considering the severity of these long-term consequences of continued Adderall XR abuse, it's absolutely crucial that you seek help to overcome your prescription medication addiction as soon as possible.
Adderall and Alcohol
One common characteristic of prescription medication abuse is that it often goes hand in hand with abusing other substances at the same time. And this combination can be especially deadly.
That same trend is reflected in Adderall abuse as well. Many times, people will use prescription stimulants like Mydayis to make their night of drinking last even longer than they could handle without it.
And given that some of the most frequent abusers are in college (famous for its binge-drinking culture), it's no wonder that these two types of substance abuse tend to overlap.
The danger of doing so, however, is much more real than many people may know. On the one hand, the two tend to counteract each other. Adderall is, after all, a stimulant while alcohol is a depressant. This fact alone, however can enable individuals to ingest much higher levels of the substances, to the point of toxicity and overdose even.
Beyond that, the two substances can also work together to cause a number of side effects like:
- An increase heartrate
- Irregular heart beat (potentially fatal)
- A dangerously high body temperature
- Boosted blood pressure
And when these side effects occur together, they can lead serious and life-threatening cardiovascular conditions, seizures, and stroke.
The takeaway here - don't mix them, ever.
Adderall XR Addiction: Spotting the Signs
As with any other addiction, the first step in overcoming your Adderall addiction is actually recognizing that you do, in fact, have a problem in the first place.
While this small point might sound obvious at first, denial can be an incredibly powerful force, especially when it comes to addiction.
One of the best ways to overcome that denial is to look at some of the clear signs of addiction and see if you recognize any of them in yourself.
You can also take a look at the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders guidelines to see if you recognize any of the signs of a substance use disorder in yourself. This manual is used by thousands of psychological and medical professionals every day to diagnose mental disorders. It doesn't get more comprehensive than this.
But no matter which method you use, the key is learning to take a clear, unbiased look at yourself and responding to the truth of the matter rather than only seeing what you want to see.
That is the only way to truly overcome your addiction to Adderall.
Adderall XR Withdrawals
Addiction to Adderall occurs when the body is so consistently exposed to the drug that it actually begins to change how it functions normally because of it.
For example, as more and more dopamine is released when taking Adderall, the body tries to counteract the unusual surge of this pleasure chemical by actually getting rid of dopamine receptors. The result is that the body needs even more dopamine to experience the same effects as before.
This process is called tolerance.
However, if the levels of Adderall that the body has grown accustomed to drop off sharply (during, say, medical detox for instance), it can result in a number of uncomfortable side effects as the body tries to return to normal.
These are called withdrawals and going through them is a necessary part of rehabilitation.
Amphetamines like Mydayis and Adderall in particular have some pretty nasty withdrawals including:
- Appetite changes
- Suicidal thoughts
- Vivid dreams
- Weight gain
- Sleep changes
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Foggy thinking
- Crying spells
- An inability to concentrate
While the symptoms of withdrawal from an addiction to Adderall XR are certainly extensive, luckily the process is not fatal. However, they can be incredibly uncomfortable.
That's why one of the best ways of ensuring the process goes smoothly is by checking into a qualified rehabilitation center.
Adderall: Not Worth the Buzz
Like most prescription medications of abuse, Adderall has a lot of viable and legal applications that help millions of people all over the world to lead a healthier, happier life.
But when this substance is abused, it can bring with it a number of debilitating side effects, both short- and long-term as well as physical and psychological. What's more, abusing Adderall can also increase the risk of life-threatening conditions as well including seizures, stroke, and coma.
If you or someone you know has developed a benzodiazepine addiction, it's important that you get help as soon as possible. With the right treatment, it is in fact possible to recover and live a clean and sober life.