Adderall Addiction and Treatment

There is so much going on these days, and Adderall addiction is often overlooked. It seems we live in a world of noise and information overload.

We are constantly bombarded by all kinds of stimulation, from social media to television to everything else competing for our attention. Spotify and other music services offer us non-stop streaming music; it would be impossible to listen to everything! On television, we can summon up our favorite movie or show with the click of a button, and we can play videogames all night long without remembering to blink.

Stimulation has become a constant in our lives. Even for people without attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), focusing on one thing for a prolonged length of time can be an immense challenge. And for those who are diagnosed with the disorder, it can be an impossibility as the mind seeks out ways to stimulate itself, unable to sit still and calmly concentrate on the task at hand.

There are a lot of misconceptions and myths about ADHD. The fact is, it is a real condition that is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in the DSM V.

ADHD and Dopamine Production

Research shows that people who have ADHD have lower levels of dopamine in their brains, which is a “powerful brain neurotransmitter that controls feelings of well being,” according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Because they have lower levels of dopamine, they are constantly seeking out new ways to “reward” their brains with jolts of this powerful neurochemical that helps keep us all engaged in daily life.

Adderall has become the go-to drug of choice to treat ADHD in people of all age groups, from as young as four years old to men and women in their 50s and even beyond. On the surface, it might seem contradictory that the drug should work in this way since Adderall is actually a stimulant. Certainly, a natural question would be, “Wouldn’t that make me even more ADHD than I already am?”

The answer is “no.”

Adderall increases serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain. The increase in these chemicals helps people who are dopamine-deficient by allowing them to actually slow down and pay attention without the constant need to seek new stimulation.

However, its effectiveness comes with problems, and many people, especially college students, are reporting numerous issues with Adderall addiction.

Adderall Addiction By the Numbers

The American Psychiatric Association reports, “An estimated 8.4 percent of children and 2.5 percent of adults have ADHD.” This has translated into a remarkable number of prescriptions being written across the country for Adderall and other similar drugs. 

A 2018 study published by the American Journal of Psychiatry found that:

  • 16 million U.S. adults used prescription stimulants of some kind in 2017
  • 5 million misused prescription stimulants
  • .4 million had use disorders

Adderall use has been rapidly growing, especially among college students. Although there is no evidence to support the assertion, many believe that taking Adderall increases cognitive function, which has led millions to think of it as a “study drug.”

The research on use among American college campuses is clear and fairly startling:

  • Full-time college students aged 18 to 22 were twice as likely as their counterparts to have used Adderall nonmedically in the past year
  • Full-time college students who were nonmedical users of Adderall were more likely to use other drugs in the past year: three times as likely to have used marijuana, eight times more likely to have used cocaine, and eight times more likely to have been nonmedical users of prescription tranquilizers
  • Five times more likely to have been nonmedical users of prescription pain relievers
  • Nearly 90 percent of full-time college students who used Adderall nonmedically were also binge alcohol users, and more than half were heavy alcohol users

Adderall use – and abuse – shows little sign of slowing down. And as its use goes up, so do rates of Adderall addiction.

In addition to physical cravings, someone with an addiction issue will also spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about their drug of choice. These thoughts become a compulsion and impossible to control, which leads to drug-seeking behavior that can sometimes be criminal.

Feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, despair, and the like are often at the root of substance abuse. The substance might temporarily mask these feelings, but they return once the high wears off, creating a vicious circle of drug abuse.

Taking a substance will temporarily stop the cravings and compulsion for it, but soon the same feelings return. In time, it takes more and more of the same substance to achieve the same effect it once had.

People addicted to drugs and alcohol may feel like they have no control over their drug use. Refraining from using or stopping seems to be an impossibility for them. The substance controls them, rather than the other way around.

Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue to seek them out even if their addiction has made them lose friends, family, spouses, and jobs. Drug-seeking behavior can even lead to diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

Am I Addicted to Adderall?

You know how this type of therapy can help, but you must understand why this can assist. Relearning how to be present as a parent is going to take a lot out of you. This is on top of everything you’ve already gone through because of the addiction your loved one has been dealing with.

The reason you are doing this is that you represent a pillar of support. At the moment, your loved one’s support system is crumbling when he or she needs that support system to be as strong as it can be. The problem many parents face is that they don’t know how to be a support system, which is what this treatment is meant to help you with.

It is possible to become both physically and psychologically addicted to Adderall. Taking Adderall over a prolonged period created physical changes in the brain. Over time, tolerance builds up. People who take it to get “high” will need more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect they experienced in the past.

Like any other drug, someone addicted to Adderall will exhibit “drug-seeking” behaviors. Signs of Adderall addiction include visiting multiple doctors to get prescriptions, crushing Adderall in order to snort it, becoming socially withdrawn or secretive, spending a great deal of your life in a quest to get more of the drug, and even lowering your standards of everyday grooming.

Other signs that may indicate an Adderall addiction include:

  • Rash
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Irritable thoughts
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Extreme weight loss.
  • Cardiac issues.
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Withdrawal symptoms when not using

Unlike someone who may be dependent on Adderall for the medical condition of ADHD, an addict simply cannot face life without the drug and will go to great lengths to maintain a steady supply.

Physical and Mental Effects of Abuse

Over a long period of time, the effects of Adderall abuse are wide, numerous, and extremely troubling:
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling “spacey”
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Restlessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Irregular heartbeat or increased heart rate
  • Enlarged heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Blurred vision
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Reduced circulation
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of motivation
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Changes in libido
  • Impotence
  • Depression
And although fatal overdose is rare, Adderall abuse can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and liver failure. It’s especially risky when taken in conjunction with Alcohol.

How to Stop Using The Drug and Withdrawal Symptoms

If you want to know how to get off Adderall, you might find the following instructions useful. As always, if you have any questions or concerns on how to do this properly, please consult with your doctor or another trained medical professional.

People who have taken or abused Adderall for a long period of time will definitely notice a withdrawal period. Because the symptoms of abuse are basically the opposite of the drug’s intended effects, heavy users might go through bouts of severe depression, which can lead to suicidal thoughts.

Along with this, they may also experience:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Oversleeping
  • Insomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Achiness
  • Anxiety

Although withdrawing from Adderall isn’t necessarily medically dangerous, it can lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior. Because of this, and to avoid other withdrawal symptoms, users should taper off Adderall slowly rather than going “cold turkey.”

Considerations in Adderall Addiction Treatment

As a stimulant, Adderall can create a sense of high and well-being. This is one of the reasons it’s being taken more and more, by teens and adults alike. As we’ve seen, it’s especially common on college campuses where it’s frequently abused as a “study drug.” Because going off Adderall can make users feel depressed and lethargic, it can be difficult to get off of, and relapse is common.

If you do need help, it’s important to seek out a well-rounded program that includes individual counseling, group sessions, and other therapeutic techniques. Intensive outpatient (IOP) may be especially useful to those with a severe addiction or who is also having issues with other drugs or alcohol. Those with less of an issue may do well with an outpatient program where they visit a clinic a few nights a week until the problem is conquered.  These types of programs typically include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), group therapy, outings and activities, a 12-step program, and other techniques that help people understand why they once abused Adderall in order to develop skills to avoid it in the future. 

Remember, if you are struggling with Adderall you are not alone. Millions of people around the country have issues with this drug that requires professional help to overcome. If you or a loved one are among them, please contact Nexus Recovery today to see how they can help. It’s free and confidential.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

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