Adderall Addiction and Abuse

Adderall abuse is a growing concern in the United States. High school and college students are among the drug’s most frequent abusers.

Addiction to Adderall

Adderall is an addictive prescription stimulant with effects similar to cocaine. People regularly taking Adderall at unprescribed doses are at a high risk of becoming addicted.

Over time, those habitually using Adderall develop a tolerance to the drug and are unable to function normally without it.

Adderall works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine, the body’s “feel good” chemical, creates a rewarding effect. Although dopamine occurs naturally, drugs like Adderall produce unnaturally high levels of it. This can cause users to come back for more.

The brain of an addicted person is dependent on Adderall to stimulate alertness and productivity. Without Adderall, addicted people often feel tired and mentally foggy. These are symptoms of Adderall withdrawal, a strong sign of an addiction.

Common signs of an Adderall addiction include:

  • Needing larger doses to feel the drug’s effects
  • Taking the drug despite knowledge of the harm it’s causing
  • Not being able to finish work without Adderall
  • Spending a lot of money getting the drug
  • Being unable to feel alert without the drug

No one intends on becoming addicted to Adderall. Usually, the problem starts as a way of increasing productivity on a stressful day at work or to study for an important test. Some people even fake the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to get their own prescription for the drug.

This is how many people eventually become addicted to Adderall and soon prioritize the drug over everything else.

“Uninsured, I chose to pay hundreds for a refill instead of buying groceries. I’d consume far more than my allocated dose, then spend sleepless nights tossing and turning, my mind racing and heart pounding, only to wake up and take another pill with a coffee to compensate.”

Writer and former Adderall addict Kate Miller, New York Times, 2013

The withdrawal symptoms caused by Adderall addiction makes it hard for users to quit on their own. These withdrawal symptoms can seem unbearable for some. Getting the help of a therapist or treatment center increases the chances of successfully quitting.

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Understanding Adderall (Prescription Amphetamines)

Adderall, a potent central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine. It is a schedule II controlled substance because of its strong addictive potential.

Doctors prescribe Adderall to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. While it decreases fatigue in narcoleptic patients, it has the opposite effect in those with ADHD.

Adderall comes as a tablet to be ingested orally with doses ranging from 5 to 30 milligrams. Some people looking for immediate effects may crush up their tablets and snort Adderall. Street names for Adderall include speed, uppers, black beauties, Addys and pep pills.

Adderall Effects and Abuse

Many people mistakenly believe Adderall is “safe” because it is prescribed by doctors. However, continued abuse of Adderall can lead to long-term side effects and an addiction that can be hard to break.

People abuse Adderall because it produces feelings of confidence, euphoria, increased concentration and a suppressed appetite. These effects make Adderall a go-to choice for anyone looking for a boost in physical or mental performance.

Taking Adderall without a prescription, or in a way not directed by a doctor, is considered abuse. This includes snorting Adderall pills or taking large doses to get a stronger effect.

Adderall is abused for many purposes, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Studying
  • Athletic performance
  • Recreation (to get high)
  • Staying awake

Although people tend to associate Adderall abuse with high school and college students, many older people also use the drug. In fact, most people who have received treatment for an Adderall addiction started taking it when they were approximately 23, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Who Abuses Adderall?
Students and professionals Adderall’s ability to help users focus and stay awake for longer than normal makes it attractive to students and working professionals facing ever-increasing demands at school and work. College students in particular make up a significant population of those abusing Adderall.
Athletes Athletes may abuse Adderall to counter fatigue and enhance performance during practice and in competition. In 2012, Adderall abuse contributed to a record-breaking year of drug-related suspensions in the National Football League.
People with eating disorders People struggling with eating disorders may abuse Adderall because it suppresses appetite. If someone with an eating disorder becomes addicted to Adderall, they will often require treatment that cares for both issues simultaneously.

Adderall abuse can cause severe health-related problems including a potentially lethal overdose.

Signs of an Adderall overdose may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fast breathing
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Fainting
  • Fever

Common Drug Combinations

There are several reasons for combining Adderall with other drugs. Some users may do this in an attempt to enhance the effects of Adderall. Some may even take a drug to relax if Adderall is preventing them from sleeping. No matter the reason, mixing Adderall with other drugs increases the risks of overdose and complications such as heart attack.

In 2009, 67 percent of people admitted to an emergency room for complications with prescription stimulants like Adderall had other drugs in their system.

Some drugs commonly combined with Adderall are:

The chance of getting alcohol poisoning is higher for people taking Adderall. This is because the alertness Adderall produces can mask the effects of severe alcohol intoxication. Someone on Adderall might not realize how much they have drank, and end up with alcohol poisoning.

Studies have also shown that students using Adderall are more likely to abuse alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.

Adderall Statistics

16

million

Almost 16 million prescriptions for stimulants like Adderall were written in 2012 – approximately triple the amount written in 2008.

116k

users in rehab

In 2012, over 116,000 people were admitted to rehab for an addiction to amphetamines like Adderall.

2x

as likely

Full-time college students are twice as likely to abuse Adderall than their peers who aren’t in college.

The longer you have been abusing Adderall, the stronger an addiction can become. The withdrawal symptoms that start shortly after quitting can make it hard to stop on your own. There are many options available for treating this addiction, such as therapy and outpatient rehab. Get help overcoming an addiction to Adderall today.

Signs of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is a potent stimulant, and it can be hard to recognize when someone is abusing the drug.

People often abuse Adderall to enhance alertness and productivity. They are often motivated individuals that don’t look like a stereotypical drug user. Most often, those who abuse Adderall are students and young professionals.

“Stimulants will help anyone focus better. And a lot of young people like or value that feeling, especially those who are driven and have ambitions. We have to realize that these are potential addicts — drug addicts don’t look like they used to.”

Clinical neuropsychologist Dr. DeAnsin Parker, New York Times, 2013

Telltale signs of Adderall abuse may include:

  • Being overly talkative
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unusual excitability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Financial troubles
  • Aggression
  • Sleeping for long periods of time
  • Secretive behavior

Dangers and Side Effects of Adderall (Prescription Amphetamines)

Many people who abuse Adderall wrongly assume the drug is safe because it comes from a doctor. Adderall is prescribed to people, including children, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This leads some people to think the drug is safe because children take it.

In reality, Adderall is a strong stimulant that can lead to serious — and potentially deadly — side effects. Overdose is one of the worst side effects of Adderall abuse, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and liver failure. Taking Adderall with other substances, such as alcohol, heighten the risk of a fatal overdose.

In 2005, the Canadian government banned sales of Adderall XR (the time-released version of the drug) due to 20 deaths associated with the drug.

Adderall can also cause physical changes in the brain’s neurocircuitry. This can lead to altered behaviors and the development of mental disorders like depression. Some Adderall addicts become suicidal after taking the drug for a prolonged period of time.

Some drug users have even injected Adderall in an attempt to achieve a better “high” by delivering the drug directly into the bloodstream. Injecting the drug may provide a more intense high, but it is also a fast track to a fatal overdose.

Athletes taking Adderall have died because their increased blood pressure lead to heat stroke and cardiac arrest. Amphetamines, including Adderall, have been banned by the International Olympic Committee since 1968, due in part to the dangers of these drugs.

Some of the side effects of Adderall abuse may include:

Anxiety

Blackouts

Jaundice

Mood swings

Shallow breath

Liver dysfunction

Snorting Adderall

Snorting Adderall is a common among users looking for immediate effects. They crush up their pills into a fine powder, sniffing Adderall into their sinus cavity. This often leads to a more intense high, but snorting Adderall comes with its own side effects.

Snorting pills causes destruction of the nasal and sinus cavities. The longer someone continues taking Adderall in this way, the more damage that can be done. Snorting also amplifies other Adderall side effects such as irregular heartbeat. Those snorting Adderall also have a heightened risk of overdose.

Recognizing an Adderall Addiction

Prescriptions written for Adderall increased by nearly fivefold from 2002 to 2012, making it easier for people to get the drug from a friend or family member. Compared to that of other drugs, use of Adderall is rarely stigmatized; as such, many people don’t recognize when a loved one has a problem. People addicted to Adderall have even been known to fake the symptoms of ADHD to get their own prescription.

Not everyone who abuses Adderall has an addiction. Although it’s a slippery slope, simply taking an Adderall from time to time to stay awake or increase productivity is not the same as needing the drug to function.

The key to recognizing an Adderall addiction is spotting certain behaviors. Those who are addicted to Adderall prioritize using and obtaining the drug over all else because they can’t function without it. Addicted people have trouble controlling how much Adderall they take and may start ignoring important social or familial obligations.

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Intervention and Next Steps

Interventions are a good way for friends and family to persuade an addicted person to get help.

The most important aspect of an intervention is for loved one’s to explain that they care about and want to help the addicted person.

Staging an intervention for someone who has an Adderall problem may seem like a drastic approach for some. Yet, it could save their life as some people addicted to Adderall don’t realize they have a problem.

Adderall users are also likely to start abusing other drugs like cocaine and meth. If it turns out your loved one has a polydrug addiction, it’s imperative to get them into treatment as soon as possible.

Interventions are carefully planned meetings between loved ones and the addicted individual. An intervention specialist can help you find the right words to say and outline consequences if the addict doesn’t accept treatment. Because people addicted to Adderall can become violent or self-destructive, it’s important to plan for a worst case scenario.

Withdrawal and Treatment

The withdrawal symptoms of Adderall withdrawal can make it hard for users to quit on their own. If someone addicted to Adderall quits “cold turkey,” they will experience effects that are essentially the opposite of the drug’s effects. These symptoms can include fatigue, loss of concentration and an unusually slow heartbeat.

There are many treatments for people addicted to Adderall. Inpatient rehab is often the best option for those with longer histories of Adderall abuse because treatment takes place in a setting free of temptation. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and 12-step meetings can also help.

There are many options to find affordable treatment for an Adderall problem. Call an addiction specialist now to explore those options.

What Is Adderall Withdrawal?

People who take large doses of Adderall for prolonged periods of time run the risk of becoming physically dependent on the drug. When this happens, a tolerance builds up, meaning it takes larger and more frequent doses to get the same effects as before.

Those who have a tolerance to Adderall often feel like the drug doesn’t help them concentrate or increase their energy like it did before. However, if they stop taking the drug, they can’t think or function normally.

These are the first stages of withdrawal. Withdrawal usually only affects those who took frequent high doses over an extended period of time.

Adderall withdrawal is a result of the body recalibrating itself to function without the drug. While withdrawal from Adderall is rarely dangerous on its own, it may prompt suicidal thoughts for some.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Unsurprisingly, the symptoms of withdrawal from Adderall are essentially the opposite of the drug’s effects. While Adderall increases concentration, euphoria and energy, the crash that follows after someone stops taking the drug results in a reversal of these effects. People who have a higher tolerance for Adderall have a more severe withdrawal.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

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

in 2013, former Adderall addict and writer Kate Miller explained how withdrawal from Adderall made her feel slow and mentally foggy.

“Without the drug I felt stupid, unable to focus or follow a thought through to completion. I was shy, and unwilling to initiate conversation. The witty, articulate woman I once was seemed to no longer exist. I felt dumb, out of it. I spoke slowly because it took immense effort to gather and express coherent thoughts.”

Kate Miller, New York Times, 2013.

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Duration of Withdrawal

The duration of withdrawal from Adderall will be different for everyone. Some people may stop experiencing symptoms in as little as five days, whereas it may take three weeks or more for others.

The biggest factors that affect the duration of withdrawal are the dose, frequency and time someone took Adderall. People who took larger doses, more frequently and for a longer period of time can expect withdrawal symptoms to last longer.

Prolonged Withdrawal Symptoms – Adderall vs. Adderall XR

There are two common types of Adderall, instant and extended release. Regular Adderall is an instant-release drug that generally lasts for up to six hours, while Adderall XR (extended release) is meant for around-the-clock use. The duration of withdrawal varies for these drugs.

Because regular Adderall starts working immediately, and its effects wear off in several hours, it leaves the body fairly quickly. Conversely, Adderall XR builds up and stays in the body longer.

People who have used regular Adderall begin feeling withdrawal sooner than those who have taken Adderall XR.

Additionally, withdrawal from Adderall XR may last weeks longer than typical Adderall because it takes longer for the body to detox.

Adderall Withdrawal Timeline

First 6-36 hrs. The first signs of withdrawal can show up within the first few hours after the last dose. Many people experience the crash of stimulant withdrawal during this period, marked by intense depression and fatigue.
Days 3-5 Symptoms intensify during the first week. Intense feelings of irritability, depression and fatigue are common. Some people also experience headaches and nightmares. This is typically the height of withdrawal intensity.
Days 5-7 Symptoms of withdrawal begin fading after about five days. Many people still feel moody and incapable of functioning normally in social settings, but they start feeling better during this time. Minor psychological symptoms, such as mild depression, may continue after this period but are far less severe.
Weeks 3-4 In some cases, people have reported feeling the effects of withdrawal from Adderall weeks after their last dose. This can happen to people who have a high tolerance and have been using the drug for more than a year.

Adderall Detox

Detoxification is the process of getting a drug out of the user’s system. Once Adderall leaves the body, the symptoms of withdrawal begin. Because these symptoms can make it difficult to function in daily life without a relapse, some people need help during detox.

Adderall detox often involves a tapering down strategy. Gradually reducing a person’s doses over time minimizes the symptoms of withdrawal.

Addiction specialists at inpatient rehabs can help Adderall users reduce their doses.

Some people choose to quit taking Adderall cold turkey. Those who have done so successfully typically do it in rehab or with the help of a counselor to prevent relapse.

Recovering from an Adderall Addiction

Getting through the withdrawal from Adderall is rarely dangerous, but for many, it’s not easy to accomplish alone. A lot of people relapse during the withdrawal period in an effort to put a stop to their symptoms or satiate their cravings.

Therapy and a good support structure can ensure bearable withdrawal symptoms and a successful recovery. If you need help giving up Adderall, find help now.

Treating an Adderall (Prescription Amphetamine) Addiction

Treating an Adderall addiction is a process of re-learning how to live without the drug. The first step toward recovery is managing withdrawal from Adderall without a relapse. Fatigue, depression and the inability to concentrate make it hard to quit without help.

A qualified treatment center can monitor an addicted person through detox, ensuring withdrawal symptoms are safely managed.

For heavy users, Adderall detox often involves a taper-down strategy. This helps gradually eliminate the drug from the body to minimize uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms such as depression and fatigue.

Once the drug has left the body, ongoing therapy and support is necessary to maintain sobriety. Understanding the root cause of an Adderall addiction is essential for those in recovery.

Counseling can help pinpoint the social, professional or academic stressors that trigger the need to use Adderall. Trained therapists can help users work through these feelings and find healthy ways to overcome them.

Top Adderall Rehabs

Many rehabs are capable of treating people addicted to Adderall with high rates of success. But every treatment center has its own specialities and quirks. Some rehabs have a tough-love approach to treatment while others offer a luxurious environment for their residents. It’s important to find a treatment center that matches the needs of the addicted person to give them the best chance at recovery.

Some of the top treatment centers for Adderall addiction include:

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is best for those with a moderate to severe Adderall addiction. Inpatient treatment is also recommended for those who are struggling with more than one addiction.

The length of time spent in Adderall rehab varies between every user.

Those with severe addictions generally have longer stays in rehab. Inpatient rehab can run anywhere from 28 to 90 days.

Inpatient rehab provides a structured environment free from situations that may provoke Adderall use. During inpatient rehab, residents follow a fairly strict daily routine that may consist of support groups, mealtimes, free time, exercise, family visits and group activities. Every routine is centered on treatment.

Some Adderall rehabs help users gradually reduce their doses to minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. Rehabs that offer detox also have physicians on staff to prevent any complications related to co-existing health conditions during the detox period.

In 2013, writer and former Adderall addict Ruthie Friedlander described her experience tapering off the drug. Ultimately, it was a difficult process for her, but she overcame her addiction with treatment.

“It didn’t stop cold turkey. I was in therapy and getting help, but it wasn’t an easy process and I slipped up a number of times.”

Ruthie Friedlander, Elle, 2013

Other treatments offered in rehab may include:

One-on-one counseling is a big focus in most inpatient treatment programs. These counseling sessions provide the individual attention a recovering Adderall addict needs to address the specific issues influencing their addiction.

Sometimes prolonged Adderall abuse can trigger or worsen mental disorders like depression and anxiety. In other cases, some people start abusing Adderall to cope with an existing problem such as an eating disorder or intense self-doubt. For the best chances of recovery, good inpatient rehabs treat mental conditions alongside the addiction. Psychiatrists on staff can also prescribe medications for underlying mental disorders.

Questions about treatment?

Call now to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.

Ongoing Treatment

Continuing treatment after quitting Adderall helps prevent the possibility of a relapse. Some people choose to join a 12-step group like Narcotics Anonymous while others seek individual therapy. Many people take advantage of both.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a powerful tool for recovering Adderall addicts. Those receiving CBT are taught how to recognize situations that may trigger the temptation to use and how to avoid or cope with those situations.

Clinical research has shown that CBT is effective for people recovering from an addiction to amphetamines like Adderall. Conversely, those who don’t engage in CBT or some alternate type of therapy are less likely to make a lasting recovery.

According to one study, “Significantly more people in the cognitive-behavioral intervention condition abstained from amphetamine at 6-month follow-up compared to the control condition.”

Some tips that have helped former Adderall addicts stay sober include:

  • Staying healthy – Regular exercise and eating a healthy diet are important aspects of productivity. Being healthy helps keep people alert and focused. Getting regular sleep and being well-rested before work or stressful activities also helps.
  • Knowing your triggers – Everyone with an Adderall addiction has certain things that can trigger a craving. It could be grogginess or stress. Knowing what incites a craving helps addicted people prepare for inevitable temptations.
  • Taking a break – When the urge to use Adderall becomes strong, sometimes it helps to take a break. Stepping away from a stressful project or situation for 15 to 30 minutes can be enough time for the craving to subside.

Find Treatment for Adderall Addiction Now

As more people recognize the dangers of Adderall addiction, more people are deciding to get treatment. From 2002 to 2013, there was a 58 percent increase in treatment admissions for addiction to stimulants like Adderall.

There are many treatment facilities and support programs available to help you fight your addiction. Most Adderall rehabs also have financing options to make treatment more affordable. There are also other forms of financial assistance for those who need help paying for treatment.

There are many resources available to help those with an addiction to Adderall. Get in touch with an addiction specialist who can help you find treatment for an Adderall addiction now.