Abusing Adderall—Like Taking Candy From a Baby
Adderall has been used for many years now as a primary treatment for children suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If you’ve been taking it and you can’t seem to stop, you probably need help for Adderall addiction, where cognitive behavioral therapy can make a difference in your life.
Adderall has no approved use for anything except ADHD and narcolepsy—a relatively rare sleeping disorder—and it’s a Schedule II medication that’s strictly controlled by the government. Unfortunately, doctors have been handing it out like candy in recent years because ADHD has become such a dominant diagnosis in fidgety kids. Then the adults or teens in the household discover just how much they like it to decrease their weight or increase their energy levels. Nobody means to become addicted to Adderall—but it’s just so easy!
Adderall is a stimulant ADHD medication, and generically it’s known as mixed salt amphetamine or sometimes dextroamphetamine. Additional stimulant ADHD medications that are also abused include Concerta, Daytrana, and Ritalin (methylphenidate), Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) or Focalin (dexmethylphenidate). These meds perk up the part of the child’s brain that produces dopamine, which helps the child to focus.
Dopamine, besides helping you to focus, is also one of the neurotransmitters produced by the brain when pleasure is experienced. A couple other neurotransmitters—norepinephrine, epinephrine, and adrenaline—are also produced. For the adult who wants to feel powerful or energetic, the high from these meds feels too good to pass up. Also, with the loss of appetite, there are plenty of teens and adults in the household who see it as an opportunity to lose those extra five or ten pounds. Unfortunately, Adderall is all very addictive. Before you know it, your brain is producing less of the feel-good neurotransmitters on its own and begging you for more of the medication.
Adderall comes with other side effects that are more trouble than they’re worth: The person will experience rapid heartbeat, dizziness, shortness of breath, and then some rebound symptoms that they really weren’t expecting, like extreme fatigue, weakness, and even numbness in an arm or leg. People who really overdo it can become aggressive and hostile, develop motor tics, and even have seizures. For the adult with high blood pressure or cardiac abnormalities, don’t rule out cardiac arrest.
Even if you’ve used Adderall for only a short time, if you binged on it you can develop withdrawal symptoms. They include the weakness and fatigue noted above, plus your appetite will increase—thus packing those pounds back on. Withdrawal brings anxiety issues to a head, and sleeping disorders are sure to follow. It can take weeks or even months to shake the symptoms.
It’s a good idea to seek help at a substance abuse treatment center. The experts there can help you deal with the issues that led you to abuse this medication in the first place. You will also need to become aware of the change in your brain chemistry, such as the reduced supply of neurotransmitters that your brain now produces. Recovering from Adderall addiction can also make you more vulnerable to other addictions; this is a time when you don’t want to use alcohol or benzodiazepines to help you get through the rough spots.
Call a treatment center today and find out what therapies are available.