While Adderall does have a medical purpose, the drug can lead to dangerous side effects when misused, including substance abuse, dependence, and addiction. The good news is that Adderall addiction is treatable. Find out how our Adderall addiction treatment programs in Massachussetts can help you overcome addiction and live a thriving sober life.
Adderall is a prescription drug used to help treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
As the medication speeds up activity in the central nervous system, energy levels increase and individuals are able to focus and concentrate better.
Unfortunately, the same characteristics that make Adderall highly effective can also make the drug highly addictive. For example, the rush of brain chemicals that stimulate the central nervous system can also make individuals feel high. Taking large doses of Adderall can actually produce effects similar to methamphetamine, which can increase the risk of addiction.
Becoming addicted to Adderall can lead to tremors, panic attacks, hallucinations, anxiety, and heart disease. The good news is that an addiction to Adderall can be treated with outpatient addiction treatment. Detoxification, behavioral therapy, an addiction treatment program in Massachusetts, and peer support can help individuals addicted to Adderall turn their lives around.
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is an FDA-approved prescription medication made up of the drugs amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Even though Adderall should only be used when legally prescribed by a doctor, some people use the drug illegally. But as a Schedule II controlled substance, misusing Adderall in any kind of way can lead to substance abuse, dependence, and addiction.
Adderall generally takes the form of a tablet that is ingested orally, but individuals looking to experience the substance’s immediate effects may crush up the tablets and snort the drug. When used recreationally, Adderall tends to be referred to as “Speed,” “Uppers,” “Black Beauties,” “Addys,” and “Pep Pills.”
How Does Adderall Work?
Adderall works by stimulating the central nervous system. When consumed, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, the two substances that make up Adderall, bind to norepinephrine and dopamine receptors in the brain, as well as epinephrine receptors in the adrenal gland. When this happens, dopamine and norepinephrine levels increase.
When dopamine levels increase, the brain produces “feel-good” chemicals. Dopamine also helps regulate critical functions in the central nervous system such as movement, attention, mood, and motivation. When the brain’s dopamine levels are balanced, individuals feel active, focused, motivated, and in a good mood.
Norepinephrine is a stress hormone and chemical messenger in the brain that provides more energy to the body. Norepinephrine also helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, helping individuals wake up. In addition to increasing energy levels, norepinephrine increases focus, enhances concentration, and helps individuals perform tasks.
How Does Adderall Help Treat ADHD and Narcolepsy?
Adderall helps treat ADHD and narcolepsy by increasing focus, decreasing fatigue, and encouraging wakefulness. The drug does this by increasing dopamine levels for individuals with ADHD and increasing norepinephrine levels for individuals with narcolepsy.
ADHD is a medical condition that causes hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and difficulty paying attention. Other symptoms associated with the chronic condition can include:
- Lack of restraint
- Short attention span
While the causes of ADHD can differ, most people with the condition have low dopamine levels. Dopamine helps individuals regulate their emotional responses and take action to achieve specific rewards. Low dopamine levels can cause brain fog, forgetfulness, mood swings, and an inability to focus or concentrate. Adderall helps relieve the symptoms of ADHD by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain.
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder that causes daytime drowsiness, fatigue and sleep paralysis. Narcolepsy can also cause hallucinations. Even though experts don’t know what causes narcolepsy, they think it involves changes in the brain that disturb REM sleep. One of these changes seems to be low levels of norepinephrine. When the brain doesn’t have enough norepinephrine, individuals tend to feel lethargic and fatigued. They also tend to experience trouble sleeping, brain fog, inattention, and poor concentration. Adderall helps treat narcolepsy by increasing norepinephrine, which encourages wakefulness and increases energy levels.
What Makes Adderall Dangerous?
Since Adderall is highly effective at treating ADHD and narcolepsy, many people overlook the risks associated with taking the drug illegally or outside of the care of a doctor. For example, Adderall is considered a Schedule II substance.
Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse. The substances listed in this class of drugs can be illicit or prescription drugs. Even though some of these substances have an approved and accepted medical use, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) considers drugs, substances, and chemicals in this category dangerous. Abusing Schedule II substances can lead to severe psychological and physical dependence and addiction. Other Schedule II substances include:
- Raw and powdered opium
Who Misuses and Abuses Adderall?
Even though Adderall is only legally approved to help treat conditions described by a doctor, people continue to use the drug for unprescribed and recreational reasons.
When individuals misuse Adderall, they use the drug for reasons not consistent with medical or legal guidelines. This can look like:
- Taking the incorrect dosage
- Consuming the drug at the wrong time
- Taking Adderall for reasons other than why they were prescribed
- Consuming Adderall that was not prescribed to them
Drug abuse happens when individuals use Adderall to get high. The key difference between Adderall misuse and abuse is intent. Individuals misusing Adderall do so to treat an ailment that the medication is not prescribed for (i.e. to ease anxiety or relieve stress and depression), whereas individuals abusing Adderall use the drug to elicit euphoric feelings.
Many different types of people misuse and abuse Adderall. They include:
- Students and professionals. Students and working professionals looking to stay awake for longer periods of time may use Adderall to increase their energy and “stimulate” their system. Many of them use the drug to meet ever-increasing demands at school or work.
- Athletes. Some athletes use Adderall to combat fatigue and enhance their performance during practices and competitions.
- People with eating disorders. Adderall suppresses the appetite. Because of this, many people struggling with an eating disorder may abuse Adderall to decrease their desire to eat.
Without stopping or receiving treatment, misusing and abusing Adderall can — and likely will — lead to addiction.
Why Is Adderall Addictive?
When individuals develop an addiction to Adderall, they have a compulsive desire to find, acquire and consume Adderall despite any negative consequences associated with the substance. Even though this compulsive need may appear to happen suddenly, addiction doesn’t happen overnight. First, Adderall changes the brain. Then, tolerance occurs, which compels individuals to take more of the drug. When individuals become dependent on Adderall, their bodies develop a chemical and psychological need for the drug. Without help, addiction generally happens next.
When individuals take Adderall, the drug increases the activity of several naturally occurring chemicals in the brain, especially dopamine. When this happens, the brain’s reward system associates Adderall with pleasure. Continued Adderall use can alter the brain so much that many individuals can’t experience pleasure without the drug. The more often individuals take Adderall, the more ingrained the changes in their brain become. After a while, individuals start to develop a tolerance for the drug.
When individuals repeatedly use Adderall, their bodies become accustomed to the continued presence of the drug. When this happens, the drug no longer produces the same effects it once did. To experience the drug’s effects once again, individuals will need higher doses of Adderall. Unfortunately, increasing their dosage without a doctor’s approval or recommendation can lead to dependence.
Once an individual becomes dependent on Adderall, they will likely feel like they need Adderall to function normally. They feel this way because the brain has started to rely on Adderall so extensively that it now deems the substance as a physical and psychological need. This means that individuals use Adderall to deal with emotional and psychologically distressing situations. When individuals don’t have access to Adderall or try to avoid using the drug, their body, which now has a physical need for the substance, starts to function differently. Symptoms of withdrawal tend to happen as a result.
Adderall withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person, but generally include:
- Appetite changes
- Mood swings
- Cravings for Adderall
- Lack of motivation
- Trouble concentrating
- Muscle aches
- Suicidal thoughts
These symptoms can be so severe that many people use Adderall to cope. Unfortunately, doing this further increases their risk of addiction.
By the time individuals are addicted to Adderall, they have a compulsive desire to use the drug no matter how severe, damaging, or harmful the consequences may be.
Signs of Adderall Abuse and Addiction
Not everyone who uses Adderall will become addicted to the substance. Adderall abuse and addiction can look and feel differently for everyone. As such, recognizing an addiction to Adderall can be challenging. But, there are some telltale signs that individuals addicted to Adderall tend to exhibit.
Some of the most common signs of Adderall abuse include:
- Weight loss
- Fast and accelerated talking
- Incomplete thoughts
- Relationship problems
- Frequently taking pills
- Excessive weight loss
- Incomplete thoughts
- Relationship problems
- Missing days at work or school
- A decline in personal hygiene
- Sleeping for long periods of time
- Hiding or sneaking taking pills
- Aggressive behavior, such as violent outbursts
Common signs of Adderall addiction include:
- Change in eating and sleeping habits
- Missing important engagements
- Isolation and social withdrawal
- Always needing money
- Increased secrecy
- Neglecting close relationships
- Sudden mood changes
- Irritability and aggressive behavior
- An inability to control the amount and frequency of Adderall use
- Rationalizing actions, minimizing concern, blaming others, and diverting conversations about Adderall or substance abuse in general
- A lack of interest in hobbies and activities that used to be important
Short-Term Effects Of Adderall
When individuals use Adderall as prescribed, the drug can help regulate neurotransmitters related to impulse control and hyperactivity. When individuals ignore their doctor’s orders or use Adderall without a prescription, the drug can cause a wide range of undesirable effects.
When used as prescribed, some of the positive short-term effects of Adderall include:
- Increased focus and concentration
- Ability to function with clarity
- Reduced hyperactivity
- Enhanced alertness and cognitive function
- Increased energy levels
Some of the negative short-term effects of Adderall include:
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Stomach aches
- Back pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Mood swings
- Sleeping difficulties
- Circulatory issues such as finger numbness and discoloration
Long-Term Effects of Adderall
Misusing Adderall can also result in several long-term effects. These effects can negatively impact individuals’ brain, body, personality, and mental health.
Long-term effects on the brain can include:
- Hearing voices
Adderall can cause changes to an individual’s personality, including:
- Mood swings that can resemble bipolar disorder
- Increased hostility
- Obsessive-compulsive behavior
- Symptoms of depression that can trigger melancholy and hopeless feelings
Some negative effects on the body can include:
- Increased risk of stroke
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cardiac arrest
- Slowed growth in children
- Tachycardia, a rapid heartbeat over 100 beats per minute
- Cardiomyopathy, a disease that makes it hard for the heart to pump blood to the rest of the body
- Cardiac dysrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat that can cause fluttering in the chest, dizziness, fainting, or chest pain
- Necrotizing vasculitis, inflammation of the blood vessel walls
- Sudden death
Can Adderall Use Lead To Overdose?
Although effective, Adderall can be dangerous for people who take more than their prescribed dose and for those who take the drug without a prescription. In fact, misusing Adderall can actually lead to overdose. According to the National Institute of Health, the overdose rates associated with psychostimulant medications, such as Adderall, continue to rise.
Symptoms of an Adderall overdose can vary from person to person, but generally include any combination of the following symptoms:
- Heart attack
- Chest pain
- Blurry vision
- Upset stomach
- Overactive reflexes
- Abdominal cramping
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Rapid or fast breathing
- Increased body temperature
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Loss of consciousness
Overdosing on any type of medication or substance can quickly become a medical emergency. When individuals exhibit any combination of these symptoms, it’s important to call 911 and seek emergency help immediately.
If you don’t know the individual overdosing personally, try to gather the following information as you wait for emergency responders:
- The person’s age
- Their overall health status and medical history
- History of drug use, if any
- How much Adderall they took
- Whether they’re allergic to any other medication
- Whether or not they took any other drugs or drank alcohol
Sharing this information with medical personnel can be the difference between life and death. The good news is an addiction to Adderall doesn’t have to result in further harm to a person’s brain and body. The addiction can be treated.
Treatment For Adderall Addiction in Massachusetts
Even though addiction is a chronic condition, it is treatable. Here at Meta Addiction Treatment, we help individuals overcome Adderall addiction by:
- Connecting them with a professional supervised detoxification facility
- Providing 3 different levels of outpatient addiction treatment
- Offering a wide range of clinical services that include behavioral therapy
- Empowering individuals to take charge of their recovery after they complete treatment
During the detoxification process, the body metabolizes all the Adderall present in the body. Although beneficial, the process isn’t easy. Since the body has become accustomed to the presence of Adderall, suddenly eliminating the drug shocks the body and triggers symptoms of withdrawal. As time passes, the brain and body restabilize themselves. Once the brain and body have re-learned how to function without Adderall, individuals can begin addiction treatment.
Outpatient Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts
Most addiction treatment programs offer either inpatient or outpatient programs. Inpatient rehabilitation requires individuals to live onsite at the facility while they receive treatment. Outpatient treatment programs are more flexible. These programs allow individuals to live at home or in sober housing and travel back and forth for treatment sessions. We specialize in outpatient addiction treatment. Depending on an individual’s specific needs, they can enroll in our outpatient, half-day treatment, and full-day treatment programs.
All of our programs include:
- Counseling led by licensed clinicians
- Educational discussions about substance abuse recovery
- Life skills education classes
- Discussions about family roles and structure
- Mindfulness and meditation
- 12-step education
- Programs that help individuals explore their identity and personality
Individuals recovering from Adderall addiction through our treatment programs also have access to our clinical services, which include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of behavioral therapy helps individuals identify harmful behavior patterns and develop healthier coping strategies. Other benefits of CBT include turning automatic negative thoughts into positive, realistic thoughts, enhancing self-esteem, learning how to effectively manage anger, and improving communication skills. CBT can also help individuals avoid relapse.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) helps individuals deal with emotionally challenging situations and distressing emotions. Other benefits of DBT include learning how to effectively manage stress, better understand emotional responses, and strengthen relationships with others.
- Case Management. Our case management services include follow-up with individuals during and after treatment, assistance with employment concerns, help with continuing their education, and referrals to additional resources that they may need during their ongoing recovery.
- Peer Support. Many experts believe that human connection can help combat the isolation of addiction. When individuals come to our facility for treatment, we want them to feel like they belong. That’s why we incorporate peer support into each of our outpatient programs. Individuals engaged in peer support can build long-term healthy relationships and practice life skills and coping strategies learned in behavioral therapy. They also tend to feel less isolated and alone.
Helping Individuals Move Past Adderall Addiction in MA
Adderall was created to help make individuals’ lives better. But when the drug is misused, it can negatively impact nearly every aspect of an individual’s life. But there’s hope. Our flexible treatment programs can help individuals overcome an addiction to Adderall and live a thriving sober life. Let us help you get there. Our mission is to help people to live sober, empowered, purposeful, and thriving lives. Contact us today if you or someone you love is struggling with Adderall or addiction of any kind.