What is Adderall?
Adderall is a synthetic central nervous system stimulant (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine). Stimulants are a “class of drugs that speed up messages traveling between the brain and body.” Stimulants help people with brain chemical imbalance feel more awake and energetic. This drug is most often prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Sometimes it is used to treat narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder.
Stimulants, in general, come in several forms, such as tablets, capsules, and powders. Prescribed stimulants are taken orally, and effects differ according to the stimulant. Additionally, the impact on the body depends on several issues:
- Person’s age, size, and weight
- Person’s height and medical conditions
- Amount of the stimulant taken
- The method of ingestion
- The combination of drugs taken with the stimulant
During the 1940s, both the military and doctors prescribed amphetamines to keep pilots awake and to aid in weight loss. During the 1940s through to the 1960s, there was an explosion of people taking and abusing amphetamines. Despite the evidence that amphetamines were abused at alarming rates and primarily by middle-class women, physicians continued to prescribe the drug. In the 1970s, new laws restricted prescribing this medication. Today, Adderall and Ritalin are again prescribed frequently and abused by those who do not have a medical rationale for taking the drug. “Among the college population, nonmedical use of prescription medications represents the second most common form of illicit drug use” Adderall is one of these drugs.
How Adderall Works on the Brain
Adderall is prescribed for those who suffer from ADHD. These individuals have lower levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Because of this chemical imbalance, the brain is in an overstimulated state.
Adderall increases the levels of these chemicals to balance brain function, increasing focus, alertness, and energy. However, when a person with normal levels of these chemicals in the brain takes this drug, he/she/they may feel the sensation of euphoria and increased alertness. This sense of well-being is why the drug is popular among students. Sadly, according to the Partnership to End Addiction, taking Adderall does not improve test performance or reading comprehension.
Adderall is considered a controlled substance because it can cause psychological and physical dependence, abuse, or the development of addiction. The drug will no longer provide the initial effect after taking it over a long time, especially in amounts not prescribed. Also, when taken in a manner not prescribed, Adderall can lead to withdrawal symptoms when stopped suddenly.
There are side effects that can accompany the use of Adderall:
- Lack of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty sleeping
- Stomach pain
- Weight loss
- Blistering skin
Long term use of Adderall
Long-term use can cause changes in the brain and interfere with the chemical messenger dopamine; like any drug, the opportunity to change what happens with the brain increases as the drug dosage increases. Another byproduct of taking stimulants is an altered flow of blood by constricting the blood vessels. Constricting the blood vessels may lead to higher blood pressure, making your heartbeat faster and increasing respiration. In some cases, people with cardiac disease may experience sudden death.
“There is also some evidence that suggests a link between Adderall use and the development of peripheral vasculopathy. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, peripheral vascular disease is a circulatory condition characterized by insufficient blood flow to organs or blood vessels in the body—most often the legs and feet. It is most commonly caused by atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries).”
Mental health problems can develop for those who do not medically require Adderall and for those who abuse it can. They can suffer from:
Furthermore, people may suffer from insomnia, which can cause the development of several of the disorders mentioned above.
As stated earlier, long-term use can lead to changes, sometimes irreversible changes in brain functioning and personality changes. The initial rationale for taking Adderall, to increase focus and energy, over time will lead to poor concentration, and withdrawal symptoms including lack of interest in one’s surroundings.
Adderall and Alcohol
Adderall, as stated earlier, is a central nervous system stimulus. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. When combining the two, Adderall can mask the sedative effects of alcohol. In such a case, people will often drink more alcohol to get the desired alcoholic impact. Drinking more can overload the liver and lead to an alcohol overdose or alcoholic poisoning.
Symptoms of Alcohol and Adderall are similar to those who drink large quantities of alcohol:
- Poor coordination
- Slurred speech
- Reduced ability to think clearly
- Distorted judgement
- Loss of consciousness
- Alcohol poisoning
- Organ failure
Symptoms of long-term use of high doses of Adderall:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Weight loss
- High body temperature
- High or low blood pressure
Sadly, non-medical users of prescription stimulants often reported simultaneous co-ingestion of prescription stimulants and other substances. Many of these individuals are in high school and college. However, according to the Human Psychopharmacology Journal, 2014 and 2015, while prescription stimulant use and stimulant use disorders have risen among young adults, this behavior has increased across all age groups over the past two decades. The increased use of stimulants, such as Adderall, increases the risk of substance use disorders. Another 2013 study found that non-medical users of prescription stimulants report more substance use than individuals who do not misuse prescription stimulants.
If you stop taking Adderall suddenly, you may experience several withdrawal symptoms. These include:
- Prolonged sleep
- Mood changes
- Suicidal thoughts
- Uncontrolled outbursts
- Body aches
These are just some of the possible symptoms. If you have been combining Adderall with other drugs, many other symptoms may occur including mental health disorders.
Treatment Options Work
A licensed addiction physician should monitor withdrawal from drugs and alcohol. The physician can prescribe medication to moderate the severity of the withdrawal and control mental health issues. Once detox is completed, it is considered medically best practice to move into licensed drug/alcohol treatment immediately; removing drugs from the body (the detox process) does not address the many issues underlying addiction and addictive behavior.
If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction to Adderall or other substances, call today to speak with one of our trained intake professionals. We can help you stop the cycle of addiction from worsening and help you regain your life. All information is confidential.
Call now! Your ability to be sober and clean and to live a healthy, productive life is a phone call away.