Adderall is a prescription stimulant that‘s also known to be addictive. This medication works by increasing levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the central nervous system.
Increased dopamine levels can cause the body to feel good and give senses of euphoria. It can lead users to come back for more, as it does with cocaine and methamphetamine (crystal meth). Norepinephrine affects how the brain reacts to external stimulation and how people focus their attention.
Many people assume Adderall is safe because it can be prescribed to children. This not the case. The drug is often prescribed for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When it is abused, it can cause a number of problems within the body.
Read on, and we’ll walk you through the signs of Adderall addiction and the effects of its abuse.
- Know the Common Adderall Abusers
People who abuse Adderall often do not look like the stereotypical addict. Many times, they are students and young professionals.
The drug is popular among students because it‘s known to increase focus and productivity. Unfortunately, the effects of the drug don’t stop there.
College students make up a significant proportion of Adderall addicts. In fact, it is estimated that 30% of college students in the US are abusing the drug.
People with eating disorders may also abuse Adderall. This is because it is an appetite suppressant. The effects of Adderall can be heightened in people with eating disorders due to lack of nutrients in the body.
Athletes have also been known to abuse the medication because it can enhance athletic performance and keep them alert. In 2012, the National Football League saw a record number of players suspended for Adderall abuse.
- Signs of Addiction
When Adderall is abused, that means it is being taken without a prescription or in ways that it was not prescribed, like taking higher dosages. Abusers may show signs of insomnia, mood swings, rashes and irritability.
People on Adderall may present in the same way as people with bipolar disorder, in the way that they can quickly shift from manic to depressed.
Other symptoms of abuse include weight loss, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea.
Some studies suggest there could be a link between Adderall abuse and schizophrenia. Psychosis is also a possible (but rare) side effect.
- Abuse Can Be Fatal
It is indeed possible to overdose on Adderall. In 2005, the Canadian government temporarily banned Adderall XR after 20 deaths were linked to the drug.
Typically, the prescribed amount of Adderall ranges between 5 and 60 mg (milligrams) per day. The lethal dose for this stimulant is reportedly around 20 mg per kg (kilogram) of weight. So, if a person weighs 154lbs, they would need to take about 1,400 mg for a lethal dose.
However, that is just an estimate and users should never take more than their doctor prescribes.
Adderall can also be fatal when combined with alcohol. When under Adderall’s influence, the symptoms of alcohol in the body are dulled. When someone consumes both substances, they might not feel as ‘drunk’ as they usually would. This can make people drink too much and lead to alcohol poisoning.
- Withdrawal Symptoms
In a chemical sense, Adderall has a similar makeup to methamphetamine. Although Adderall’s effects are not as extreme, its withdrawal symptoms are rather similar.
Depression is a common symptom for anyone going through a withdrawal. As people take more and more Adderall, their dopamine levels continue to increase. Once they stop taking the drug, those levels decrease significantly. They may also experience general apathy.
Other symptoms include memory loss, trouble sleeping, and anxiety. They may also experience an excessive increase in appetite now that they are no longer taking an appetite suppressant. It is important to note this because it can also lead to overeating.
People with Addiction Need Support
If you suspect your child is addicted to Adderall, it is important that you address it. If they are abusing the drug, get them help immediately. Although you may feel angry or upset, now more than ever is when your child needs love and support.