Adderall is a prescription stimulant originally designed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, but is also recreationally used as “the study drug.” Adderall is known to stave off sleep and increase energy levels and the ability to focus in healthy individuals, explaining why young people misuse the medication as a tool to keep up with their classwork.
A report published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry shed light on the misuse of Adderall among young adults, citing that 60% of all Adderall consumption was by 18-25 year olds. In fact, the article states that emergency room visits among young adults for Adderall-related visits had increased 156% from 2006-2011. Adderall overdose psychosis, seizures, and coma are included in those statistics.
Because of the highly addictive properties of Adderall, serious serious long-term health conditions, both psychological and physical pose a real threat to young adults in particular. The risk of Adderall overdose psychosis is one of the more serious adverse effects of this drug. Young people need to understand that a prescription stimulant can be just as dangerous as methamphetamine or cocaine and should not be misused.
Adderall is a stimulant composed of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, and available in doses ranging from 5-30mg. When someone of any age begins abusing Adderall in hopes of experiencing a boost in energy and mood, or desired weight loss, they are often unaware of the long-term effects that will occur with consistent abuse of this powerful stimulant. After experiencing the initial euphoric effects, the brain’s reward system records it as pleasurable event and a pathway is mapped causing the individual to seek the high over and over again.
The stimulant works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the central nervous system. Increased dopamine leads to the “feel good” effect, which is recorded in the brain’s reward system. Also, increased norepinephrine affects the speed that the brain responds to stimuli, resulting in the ability to manage large amounts of data or information. Over time the brain becomes dependent on the drug to re-experience these positive responses.
Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance with highly addictive properties. The staggering increase in Adderall prescriptions is testament to its popularity among students in particular, who may obtain the drug by feigning ADHD symptoms. According to the New York Times article Generation Adderall, October 12, 2016, prescriptions for the drug have spiked since its introduction in 1996. In 2000 there were 5 million prescriptions written for Adderall. This increased to 9 million in 2005 and to 16 million by 2012. In fact, 42% of individuals aged 12 and older surveyed in the National Survey of Drug Use and Health in 2015 admitted using prescription stimulants without a prescription.
How Long Does it Take to Become Addicted to Adderall?
Because Adderall is a prescription medication many young people mistakenly consider it to be safe. In reality, Adderall has the same DEA drug classification as cocaine, morphine and methamphetamine, all substances with a high potential for abuse. Tolerance to Adderall ramps up quickly, and within a short time an addiction can develop. In a similar manner as cocaine or methamphetamine, it can take as little as two weeks to become addicted to Adderall. The addiction will quickly sneak up on the recreational user as the brain develops tolerance, and the negative effects will soon follow.
During this early phase, the drug continuously increases dopamine production levels in the brain, triggering the “feel good” sensation, or rewarding effect, and causing the individual to desire repeating the sensation again and again. As tolerance increases, more of the drug is required to continue to achieve the desired effects, quickly leading to Adderall dependence.
Symptoms of Adderall Addiction
Adderall causes both psychological and physiological dependence over time. Individuals may come to believe they cannot function without the drug, which is a sign of psychological dependence, or addiction. When someone is abusing Adderall there are clear signs and symptoms that begin to emerge. These might include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Severe mood swings
- Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss or malnutrition
- Hoarse voice
- Upper abdominal pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Nausea and vomiting
- Erratic behavior
- Dry mouth
- Sexual problems
- Rapid heart rate
Adderall-induced psychosis can occur as a result of long-term abuse of the drug, or as one of the more serious symptoms in the event of an overdose.
As Adderall abuse increases, including snorting high doses of the drug, the risk of overdose is possible. Adderall overdose psychosis and other dangerous symptoms can occur, which constitutes a medical emergency. Signs of Adderall overdose may include:
- Psychosis (hallucinations and delusions)
- Panic attacks
- High fever
- Stomach pain
- High blood pressure
- Break down of muscles
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Severe tremors
- Loss of consciousness
Adderall overdose is treated by attempts to eliminate as much of the drug from the system as possible. Activated charcoal can help absorb excess Adderall in the gut, and sometimes the emergency measures will include stomach pumping or gastric lavage. Intravenous fluids may be administered to replenish nutrients and prevent dehydration.
Adderall Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms
When someone attempts to stop using the Adderall they may experience highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, which is a symptom of physiological dependence. The longer the history of Adderall abuse, the more difficult the withdrawal process will be. When someone who has become addicted to Adderall attempts to stop using the drug they will experience severe rebound effects and highly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Foggy thinking
- Excessive sleeping
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Trembling or shaking
- Symptoms of depression
- Concentration problems
- Vivid or disturbing dreams
- Increased appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
Treatment for Adderall Addiction
Treatment for Adderall addiction will likely involve a residential rehab for a minimum of one month. The first important step is the medically supervised detox and withdrawal phase of treatment. With Adderall it is recommended that the individual be placed on a tapering schedule to gradually ease the withdrawal symptoms. The medical detox professionals can help manage the symptoms of depression and fatigue that began when the drug is discontinued, as well as other withdrawal symptoms that emerge.
Once the detox process has been completed the individual will begin an intensive addiction treatment program to help break the addiction cycle. This is accomplished through various evidence-based therapies and complementary activities, under the supervision of a clinical staff. These treatments include:
- Psychotherapy. Integral to Adderall addiction treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. CBT helps guide the individual toward adopting more positive responses to triggers, and to be able to recognize dysfunctional thought patterns that had led to Adderall abuse.
- Group therapy. Groups participate in conversations about struggling with Adderall addiction and providing encouragement and support to each other.
- Dual diagnosis treatment. If there is a co-occurring mental health condition, such as an anxiety disorder or depression, psychiatric support is provided alongside the addiction treatment.
- Psychoeducation. Classes teach coping skills, emotion regulation, stress reduction, and organization skills.
- Recovery meetings. Many rehabs integrate a 12-step or similar programming into the rehabilitation plan, which involves attending recovery meetings.
- Aftercare. After rehab is completed, the individual engages in aftercare strategies, including outpatient therapy, life skills classes, and ongoing recovery meetings.
Healthy Ways to Manage Academic or Work Stress Without Adderall
Learning healthy stress management skills is essential to remaining Adderall-free. There are some helpful lifestyle changes that will help students better cope with their academic coursework or executives better managing their workload—all while keeping stress under control. These include:
- Regular exercise. Adding a regular fitness routine into your week, even if it is simply a daily run or bike rid, can help keep stress under control in addition to improving sleep quality and mental alertness.
- Healthy diet. Nutrition plays a part in brain health and the ability to focus and concentrate. A diet that limits junk food and caffeine and focuses on healthy foods will help increase energy, helping you get through the days without stimulants.
- Organizational skills. Learning how to manage work or school demands is key to avoiding stress overload. Use a daily to-do list to stay organized, which will reduce stress and improve time management. Use organizational phone apps to help keep track of projects, assignments and due dates.
- Practice mindfulness. Focusing on the present moment, while paying attention to the breathing process, can help diffuse stress and anxiety. Using the simple practice of mindfulness helps keep your focus on the here and now instead of stressing out about all the work that lies ahead.
Recognizing the dangers of Adderall abuse and overdose is an important lesson for people of any age. Avoid the use of stimulants and instead rely on healthy methods of managing workloads and stress.
Ken Seeley Communities Treats Adderall Addiction in Palm Springs
Ken Seeley Communities is a full service addiction recovery program in Palm Springs, California. Covering all aspects of treatment for Adderall addiction or dependence, Ken Seeley offers a medically supervised detox program that will help manage the various stages of withdrawal prior to initiating treatment. We offer various options for treatment, including intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization programming, and residential rehab. For individuals selecting an outpatient option or transitioning out of residential rehab, sober living housing is also provided at Ken Seeley Communities. For answers about Adderall overdose psychosis or details about our program, please contact Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502.