Around 16 million people in the United States are currently prescribed stimulants like Adderall. However, countless others are using Adderall unprescribed in order to boost mental or physical performance at work, home or school.
While many believe that taking Adderall from a friend is safe because the drug is often prescribed by doctors, this misguided way of thinking can lead people down a path of dependency and addiction.
What Is Adderall Used For?
Adderall is a prescription drug primarily used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, this drug may also help treat narcolepsy or people who experience extreme and chronic fatigue.
Adderall is classified as a central nervous system stimulant comprised of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. This powerful combination of drugs helps those suffering from ADHD regain their focus and subdue their hyperactive nature, making it easier to concentrate on specific tasks.
Due to its highly addictive nature and potential for abuse, Adderall is considered a Schedule II controlled substance by the United States government. This means a prescription for Adderall cannot be refilled. Instead, a new prescription must be issued by a doctor each time a patient needs this particular drug.
Despite these precautions, 16 million prescriptions for stimulants like Adderall were written in 2012. This number is nearly triple the number of stimulant prescriptions that were written in 2008. As the number of prescriptions continues to rise, so does the potential for abuse.
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How Does Adderall Work?
Those suffering from ADHD tend to have lower levels of the “feel-good” chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a key chemical in the brain’s reward center and those who don’t produce enough of it will continually seek outside stimulation. This is why people suffering from ADHD often have trouble concentrating.
Adderall works by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain. When the dopamine levels are regulated, a person will feel more energized and better able to concentrate because they no longer need to seek outside stimulants.
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Why Do People Abuse Adderall?
If Adderall is taken as prescribed by a doctor, the probability of developing an addiction to this substance is extremely unlikely. However, with the number of Adderall prescriptions on the rise, the drug is now easily accessible in medicine cabinets across the country. Those who have no medical reason to be using Adderall are increasingly taking the drug in large doses to achieve a high similar to that of cocaine users.
The amphetamine in Adderall will cause hyperstimulation throughout the brain and body. in turn. makes users feel stronger, more self-assured and energized. The extra confidence and energy allow those who abuse Adderall to accomplish more than they normally would without the drug. Due to this, it has become increasingly popular for those looking to boost mental and physical performance. Adderall also suppresses appetite and is often abused by those looking to lose weight.
However, the longer a person continues to use Adderall to stimulate alertness, increase concentration or lose weight, the more the body and brain will begin to rely on the substance for these things. Eventually, someone who regularly abuses Adderall will become unable to concentrate or function day to day without the help of the drug. This mental and physical dependence is what perpetuates Adderall abuse and addiction.
Effects Of Adderall Abuse And Addiction
When someone without ADHD uses Adderall, they can experience a range of different side effects. Some of the most common short-term side effects include:
- Unhealthy weight-loss
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of sex drive
- Trouble sleeping
While some of the side effects are short-lived, abusing Adderall for an extended period of time can result in dangerous and long-term side effects including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
Prolonged use of stimulants can weaken the heart muscles. In severe cases of Adderall abuse and addiction, this can lead to seizures, heart attack or death.
Adderall Abuse In College Students
Increased mental performance has made Adderall especially well-liked among college students in order to study long hours, write papers and take tests. Additionally, college athletes use the stimulant to work through fatigue and push their physical limits.
Adderall wiped away the question of willpower,” stated Casey Schwartz, author of The New York Times Magazine article, “Generation Adderall”. “Now I could study all night, then run 10 miles, then breeze through that week’s New Yorker, all without pausing to consider whether I might prefer to chat with classmates or go to the movies. It was fantastic. I lost weight. That was nice, too.”
According to the Partnership For Drug-Free Kids, around 20 percent of college-aged kids said that they abused prescription stimulants, like Adderall. Additionally, 74 percent of college students said they got their stimulant not from a doctor, but from a friend. Its popularity among college students has earned Adderall the nickname “college crack.”
Unfortunately, Adderall abuse and addiction doesn’t end after college. A generation of college-aged kids who are increasingly reliant on stimulants has started to graduate and enter the workforce, bringing their Adderall addiction with them. Researchers believe this is why the United States is currently seeing an increase in Adderall prescriptions being written for adults, especially those between the ages of 26 and 34-years-old.
Treatment For Adderall Addiction
While taking a pill to increase productivity at school or in the workplace might seem harmless at first, it can turn into a vicious cycle of dependence and cause severe side effects. However, recovery is always possible.
Adderall addiction must be treated by a team of professionals who are trained to handle the withdrawal symptoms and teach those struggling tools to cope with their day to day life without drugs.
If you or a loved one is suffering from Adderall addiction, contact a treatment specialist today at 888-512-3326.