Adderall addiction is a complex and chronic disease that causes social, health and economic issues for those afflicted. Even when prescribed by a doctor, individuals can succumb to substance use disorder, causing them to prioritize the drug over all other aspects of their lives.
Though a complicated disease, Adderall addiction is highly treatable. Patients can undergo treatment through residential, outpatient or partial hospitalization programs customized to meet their needs. We’ll look at the signs and potential causes of Adderall addiction and discuss treatment options if you or someone you love is struggling.
Adderall use can turn habitual and lead to physical tolerance, where higher doses are required to experience the same initial effects.
By misusing Adderall, the brain becomes flooded with too much dopamine, the natural chemical that makes you feel happy and rewarded. Over time, the brain stops making dopamine, which causes cravings as individuals take more to keep those levels high. The dependency becomes so strong that the body cannot function without it.
Even when patients are prescribed Adderall, they can experience withdrawal symptoms and dependency. It’s unknown exactly why some develop substance use disorder while others do not, but a few contributing factors include:
Adderall addiction can be caused by taking the medication at higher levels than prescribed by a doctor. Patients who take Adderall for extended periods might find the drug can no longer control ADHD symptoms over time. This can make them feel like they need to take more medication to feel the effects.
Others might purposefully take Adderall in more significant amounts for a greater “high.” Overusing Adderall, however, is extremely dangerous and can lead to serious health problems. This is why doctors typically prescribe it at the lowest doses possible since when it’s used as directed, it carries a lower risk of dependency.
A prescription for Adderall usually ranges from five to 60 milligrams a day, with adolescents starting at just 10 milligrams per day. Doctors might slowly increase a patient’s dosage until their symptoms are managed.
Adderall addiction can occur by taking it:
Some people purposefully misuse Adderall for its stimulant effects. They might use it to stay up all night or boost their mental performance. While prescribed in pill form, some might snort or inject it to increase effects, increasing their likelihood of developing an addiction.
You’re also at a higher risk of developing an addiction if you take Adderall with the following medications:
Several environmental factors can lead to people developing Adderall addiction. For instance, students might use Adderall to improve their athletic or academic performance due to its stimulant qualities that help them stay awake and focused. While high school and college students experience Adderall use disorder most frequently, adults with high-stress jobs may also succumb to addiction.
Those transitioning from childhood to adulthood are at higher risk of addiction since they’re more vulnerable to stressful work and academic changes. These individuals often need extra help navigating life changes and dealing with mental or social issues. Students might turn to Adderall to help them cope with the stressors and pressures of higher education.
Anyone taking Adderall is at risk of developing an addiction. However, the following people are at higher risk:
A personal history of substance use disorder, criminal activity or legal problems can increase one’s risk of developing an Adderall addiction.
Personal mental health history also plays a role in developing addiction, as young adults might feel the urge to take Adderall to cope with stress. With its stimulant qualities, some might use Adderall to give them confidence and focus, especially when dealing with anxiety.
Since Adderall suppresses appetite, those with body dysmorphia or eating disorders might use Adderall to lose weight and improve their body image. Most don’t realize Adderall is an ineffective, unsafe method of doing this. In fact, any weight lost by taking Adderall is generally not sustained over time and can quickly return once you stop taking the pills.
Additionally, heavy drug use or misuse or prior rehabilitation can increase an individual’s likelihood of developing Adderall addiction. Those who engage in risk-taking or thrill-seeking behavior might chase a similar thrill by taking Adderall.
Lastly, family history plays a role — individuals who grow up in an addicted household might normalize the misuse of substances, while genes can lead to an addictive personality.
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It’s essential to carefully follow the doctor’s orders when prescribed Adderall to manage ADHD symptoms. Some may misuse Adderall unknowingly and begin to prioritize getting the drug over other aspects of their lives. This can negatively impact personal and professional relationships and become an overwhelming cycle to escape.
Anyone can exhibit signs of physical dependence over time — however, some are more susceptible to addiction. Dependency is a natural and expected physiological response to the interaction of chemicals in the body. Those with natural dependency often do not display symptoms like mental obsession or craving, which is more in line with addiction.
The misuse of Adderall often occurs in five stages:
Signs and symptoms of Adderall addiction might not be evident in the early stages. Many people who misuse substances conceal their behavior to keep their drug misuse a secret. Even so, friends and family members are more likely to guide their loved ones to Adderall rehab programs.
While medical professionals can successfully diagnose Adderall addiction, there are ways to determine if you or someone you know is struggling and needs help. Identifying the signs early is vital to prevent further problems caused by addiction:
Whether intentional or not, misusing Adderall can lead to addiction. Signs of Adderall misuse include:
You’ll want to note how often your loved one takes the drug and ensure they aren’t unknowingly mixing it with alcohol or other stimulants. Adderall can produce elevated side effects like increased heart rate, jittery feelings, sleeping problems and high blood pressure when combined with alcohol. You’ll notice if they’re using more than prescribed if they run out of prescriptions earlier than expected.
The person facing addiction may want to cut down on use but don’t have the ability to do so, or they take Adderall while knowing its adverse effects. If you notice you or your loved one cannot finish work or school projects without Adderall or can’t feel alert without it, this is another sign of addiction.
Individuals with addiction will go through financial issues to supply and sustain their drug use. They’ll experience such an intense craving for Adderall that it begins to impact money, jobs and relationships. The person addicted to Adderall will take risks to obtain the drug, no matter the consequences, especially if they can no longer get their prescription drugs refilled.
If your loved one begins stealing money or spending a lot of time trying to obtain and use Adderall, they’re most likely addicted. If possible, note any financial problems such as changes in their bank accounts or credit card statements. Flag unexplained purchases and look for other signs, such as the afflicted person selling their prized possessions.
Adderall can cause people to lose weight due to its ability to suppress appetite and speed up metabolism. The drug tells the brain that a person is no longer “satisfied” or hungry, even if they haven’t eaten all day. Adderall can reduce hunger and cause individuals to feel fuller when they do eat.
A person struggling with Adderall addiction might display excessive weight loss. Watch for signs such as hollowed cheeks, baggier clothes or thinning hair from nutritional deficiencies.
Since Adderall addiction can cause extreme fatigue and exhaustion, watch for any changes in daily routines. If you or your loved one no longer has the energy to do basic daily tasks such as working, bathing or exercising, it’s most likely a sign that something is wrong. Listen to your body and note changes.
If it’s a close friend, family member or coworker you suspect may be addicted, note physical changes in their appearance. If they’ve been wearing the same clothes for days or haven’t been bathing, these are substance use disorder red flags. Take note of sluggishness and if the person neglects their daily activities.
As physical dependency from Adderall misuse changes the brain, addicted individuals might display unusual behaviors. Watch for behavioral changes such as:
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Adderall addiction develops when prolonged drug use causes health problems and failure to meet responsibilities at home, work or school. It can also affect relationships as family and friends of those struggling with addiction find it difficult to help them combat the disease.
Adderall addiction can happen to anyone, whether the drug is prescribed by a doctor or through illicit use. The effects can worsen over time as the body attempts to adapt to changes caused by addiction and requires higher dosages to get the same initial results.
Long-term use at higher doses can cause extreme side effects and change how the brain produces neurotransmitters. While these side effects may be reversed once you stop taking Adderall, it’s essential to speak with a medical professional if you experience them. Effects of Adderall addiction include:
The short-term effects of Adderall misuse can cause brain changes that may develop into long-term problems if not addressed by a medical professional. Short-term effects include:
These symptoms may vary depending on the person and their age. Most side effects go away after a week or two of using the drug, while others who take Adderall prescribed by a doctor might never experience side effects.
Short-term effects increase when mixing Adderall with other substances or taking more medication than prescribed. Heart changes and psychotic symptoms can also develop quickly and should always be addressed by a medical professional even if they dissipate.
Individuals will start taking more Adderall than usual to feel the drug’s effects as their body develops a physical dependence. This can be extremely dangerous and cause brain chemistry and function changes, digestive issues, heart damage and other harmful effects.
Mental health impacts our daily lives, relationships and physical health. When coupled with Adderall addiction, the mental health effects can be significant, even if patients were not diagnosed with depression or other mental illnesses before taking Adderall.
Some studies have shown a risk of developing psychosis when misusing Adderall for extended periods. Psychosis is a severe mental condition characterized by a person experiencing disordered thinking to the point they lose touch with reality. If left untreated, neurotoxicity can occur. This is when psychosis and schizophrenia-like symptoms caused by paranoia persist and require a lifetime of treatment. Symptoms can also present themselves when people on high dosages abruptly stop taking it or quit “cold turkey.”
Symptoms of psychosis can include:
Psychosis is one of the more severe effects of Adderall addiction that should be addressed by a medical professional right away.
Depression can also be a symptom of withdrawal. As the brain becomes used to the high levels of dopamine, a significant drop causes the brain to readjust. This readjustment period can bring strong adverse effects, such as extreme sadness and suicidal thoughts.
Misusing Adderall for extended periods can cause serious cardiovascular issues from overdoses, such as heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest.
Using Adderall as an appetite suppressant to lose weight places a dangerous amount of stress on the heart. The same molecules in the drug that make the body tired can often jumpstart the cardiovascular system and put a person at risk of blood clots, strokes, seizures and heart failure.
Combining Adderall with alcohol can also cause severe heart problems. Since Adderall is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the two substances will compete in the body, raising blood pressure and body temperature, increasing heart rate and causing an irregular heartbeat. Adderall can also dull the symptoms of being drunk. When combined, people might not know how much alcohol they’ve consumed, leading to over-drinking, risky behavior and alcohol poisoning.
It’s essential to report these symptoms to a medical professional or call emergency health services immediately.
The physical dependence on Adderall can come with uncomfortable or painful symptoms when a person attempts to quit without medical support. Withdrawal symptoms appear when the brain tries to adapt to the sudden absence of drugs.
While withdrawal doesn’t always indicate addiction, it’s beneficial to understand the signs:
Stimulant withdrawal might also make you seem hungover or intoxicated, and the risk worsens when the Adderall is misused.
The risk of Adderall overdose increases as the individual takes too much or manipulates its administration by snorting or injecting their medication. Taking Adderall with alcohol can also increase the possibility of a fatal overdose.
Depending on the frequency and dosage of the person, symptoms of an Adderall overdose can include:
It’s essential to seek emergency health care services if you or someone you know experiences the above symptoms. An overdose can be fatal if left untreated. Other severe symptoms of prolonged use, such as kidney or brain damage, can also lead to coma or death.
When a person develops an Adderall addiction, the physical and mental dependence associated with the disease can make it challenging to quit the drug. This reliance will often interfere with relationships and daily routines. It can also cause individuals to lose money, jobs and academic opportunities, which can have a profound mental effect on individuals.
Doctors can diagnose Adderall use disorder if you or someone you know is dealing with this complex disease. It might be time to seek professional help through an Adderall addiction treatment program if you:
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Depending on the level of care needed, people addicted to Adderall can receive treatment at a hospital, live in a treatment center or receive care while living at home.
Inpatient or partial hospitalization programs provide addiction treatment and health care services to help those struggling with substance use disorders and medical problems. Similar to residential care, hospitals can use medicines, therapy and structured plans to help clients reach sobriety.
In a residential treatment center, clients live with others struggling with addiction in a space free from situations that could provoke Adderall use. Residential treatment centers provide nutritious meals, a comfortable place to rest and sometimes exercise and other wellness activities. You’ll typically attend support groups to listen to and provide tips for your peers and receive behavioral therapy to understand the factors that contribute to or coincide with your addiction.
Unlike residential treatment,outpatient care allows clients to go to work and school and tend to other daily activities while receiving treatment. This type of treatment is suited for those with obligations such as child care or those who do not want to undergo inpatient care. Intensive outpatient programs also tend to be more affordable than inpatient or partial hospitalization programs.
Attending group therapy or individual counseling can help clients alter their attitudes and behaviors surrounding their Adderall use. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can provide clients with an understanding of how their mental health issues impact addiction and how to build healthy habits following treatment. Group counseling can help clients achieve a sense of belonging as they confide in those with similar life struggles.
Some medicines can lessen and relieve withdrawal symptoms associated with heavy or long-term Adderall use. Medical professionals can provide a healthy taper-down approach to comfortably treat your addiction through inpatient or outpatient care. They might also use medication to treat coinciding conditions that can impact addiction, such as depression and anxiety.
Gateway Foundation offers customized, evidence-based recovery plans to support your recovery and ongoing healing.
As you’ve learned, Adderall use disorder is a complex disease that can present various health, financial and relationship problems. Though complicated, Adderall addiction is highly treatable. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Adderall addiction treatment centers in Chicago can help break the cycle.
At Gateway Foundation, we are with you for life. We foster an environment of professionality and compassion to help you get your life back on track. Our custom inpatient and outpatient programs provide the care you deserve so you can achieve successful recovery.
To learn more about our treatment plans, get in touch with us today.
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