Adderall is a type of prescription stimulant in the class of drugs called amphetamines. Amphetamines are used to improve mood, focus, and energy. They are commonly prescribed to treat narcolepsy and ADHD, otherwise known as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Adderall is also commonly used as a study aid, an energy booster to stay awake and alert, and as an appetite suppressant.
Amphetamines are known to have a high potential for abuse. Because Adderall is commonly prescribed for study and attention, it often leads to drug dependence. People tend to misuse Adderall. This means that they either take someone else’s medicine, use it to achieve a euphoric high, or take it for a reason other than why it was prescribed. If you have a proper prescription, it is important to understand that all prescription medications still come with a wide range of side effects, both short-term and long-term. If you are prescribed a stimulant such as Adderall or tend to use one like it recreationally, it is important to acknowledge the long-term effects that may accompany use.
General Effects of Stimulants on the Brain and Body
Stimulants increase activity within the brain. They do this by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters, chemicals associated with transmitting messages and information from one part of the brain to another. In Adderall’s case, the two neurotransmitter chemicals that are increased include dopamine, responsible for the reinforcement of pleasure and reward behaviors, and norepinephrine, responsible for the regulation of blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.
Short-Term Effects of Stimulant Use
Common side effects of users of prescription stimulants report heightened energy and a boost in mood. Other physical effects include:
- increased heart rate
- increased breathing
- increased blood pressure
- decreased blood flow
- increased body temperature
When people misuse stimulants, they are likely to experience adverse side effects. Repeated use or misuse can lead to feelings of psychosis, anger, or paranoia. Withdrawal symptoms are also to be expected from short-term use of Adderall, including feelings of depression, insomnia or other sleep problems, and chronic fatigue.
Long-Term Effects of Stimulant Use and Addiction
To understand the long-term effects associated with Adderall and stimulant use, it is important to understand how addiction occurs in the brain. Addiction occurs from a mechanism of pleasure and reward. With Adderall specifically, a user will experience an increase in dopamine and norepinephrine, far beyond the natural, sober levels of those same chemicals. The brain recognizes how this increase in chemicals makes your mind and body feel, whether that be more alert, more energized, more focused, or more content. Repeated use of Adderall tells your mind that these feelings of pleasure are acceptable and unmatchable to anything experienced sober. Quickly, Adderall addiction and dependency can take effect.
People that use Adderall over long periods of time can experience many long-term side effects. These effects can make it even more difficult to recover from dependency, although recovery is always possible. Some side effects include:
- Sleep difficulties
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Reduced or lack of motivation
- Increased irritability
- Increased anxiety and depression
- Increased or chronic fatigue
- Increased aggression
- Mood swings
- Increased headaches or migraines
- Stomach issues and constipation
- Panic attacks
- Paranoia or hallucinations
- Suicidal ideation
With the use of any drug, tolerance is likely to occur. With repeated or continuous use of Adderall, you may find that you need to increase your dose in order to experience the same effects. This is also important to understand because stimulant overdoses can and do occur. Routes of administration are also important in understanding potential overdose or life-threatening complications.
Treatment for Adderall Addiction, Dependency, and Withdrawal
The first step to recovery is to acknowledge the severity of your dependence or addiction. If it is required, you may need to enroll in a detoxification (detox) program or hospitalization program. Detox is needed and necessary in situations where you are unable to function without Adderall, and your body has become dependent on the substance. In detox, you will be under medical supervision as you taper-off Adderall.
Another option, or next step, would be to start treatment at a rehab center that specializes in addiction recovery. There are inpatient options as well as intensive outpatient options. These programs will help you evaluate your treatment needs and help to individualize your care. You will need to attend various individual and group therapy sessions to help develop new and healthy coping strategies to manage life outside of treatment.
There are incredible resources available to help support and guide you through your experience with Adderall addiction, dependency, and withdrawal. Put yourself and your healing first, and you will be able to experience clarity in your life without the distressing symptoms that come with addiction.
Stimulants are medications often prescribed to individuals that suffer from ADHD or associated cognitive conditions. Adderall is one type of stimulant that is prescribed to increase energy, concentration, and mood. Generally, stimulants increase activity in the brain associated with pleasure and reward. Stimulant use increases blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. Because stimulants increase feelings of well-being and euphoria, they hold a very high potential for abuse and dependency. When considering the long-term effects of Adderall addiction, it is important to understand that even prescription medications come with consequences. Long-term Adderall use can cause issues in the pleasure center in the brain, among many other lasting issues in sleep, mood, and attention. Luckily, there are many addiction treatment options available to treat stimulant addiction such as inpatient and outpatient rehab alongside psychotherapy. West Coast Recovery Centers values addiction recovery for any type of addiction. Let us guide you through your recovery journey. Call us at (760) 492-6509.