Adderall Addiction and Abuse

Adderall Addiction and Abuse – Adderall is a prescription stimulant that produces effects similar to methamphetamine. It is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine, indicated for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy.

As a stimulant, Adderall works by boosting levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the central nervous system. Norepinephrine plays a vital role in general arousal, selective attention, and stress reactions in challenging environments.

Dopamine is the body’s “feel good” chemical, and produces feelings of reward. Although dopamine is a naturally-occurring and essential chemical, drugs such as Adderall flood the brain with very high levels of it, compelling many users to continue consuming the drug.

Adderall Addiction

The brain of an addicted person has become reliant on Adderall to stimulate alertness, wakefulness, and productivity. Without Adderall, addicted people often feel fatigued and experience mental fog. These are symptoms of Adderall withdrawal, and also a hallmark sign of physiological dependence.

While not every person who uses Adderall will develop an addiction, people habitually using Adderall without a prescription are at a high risk of developing an addiction. Over time, those who regularly use Adderall often develop a tolerance to the drug and become dependent, thus unable to function normally without it.

Common signs of Adderall addiction include the following:

  • Needing increasing doses to experience the drug’s effects
  • Attempting to cut down on use or quit but failing to do so
  • Using the drug despite awareness of the harmful consequences it’s causing
  • Not being able to finish studying, work, or a project without Adderall
  • Spending a considerable amount of time and money in the pursuit of obtaining, using, and recovering from drug use
  • Being unable to feel awake or alert without the drug
  • Neglecting other important activities and responsibilities in favor of using Adderall
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using Adderall

The withdrawal symptoms caused by a dependency on Adderall makes it challenging for users to stop using on their own, and can seem intolerable for some. Seeking the help of an addiction treatment center, however, increases the chances of a successful recovery.

Adderall Dependence vs. Adderall Addiction

Adderall dependence is a natural and predictable physiological response to the drug. A person develops a chemical dependence due to the interaction of the body’s chemicals, but not necessarily a psychological dependence where they are misusing the medication to get high. They may require some professional assistance to get off the medication due to how Adderall affects the brain, but they are not obsessing over or having intense cravings for it.

Adderall addiction refers to an individuals physical and psychological reliance on Adderall that coalesces with a particular set of behaviors. These people are often unable to cope when they stop taking Adderall and will do just about anything to obtain more of the drug. Moreover, attainment and use of the drug becomes the chief priority of the person.

If they have a prescription, they often run out of doses early due to using more than prescribed. This leaves them in withdrawal from the Adderall, which, in turn, results in them going to any length necessary to obtain more of it. Having obsessive thoughts about Adderall and intense cravings are also indicative of addictive behavior.

Adderall Abuse

Adderall Addiction and Abuse

People abuse Adderall because it induces feelings of confidence, euphoria, increased alertness, and a suppressed appetite. These effects make Adderall an ideal choice for anyone seeking a boost in physical or mental performance.

Using Adderall without a prescription, or in a way not prescribed by a physician, is considered abuse. This includes crushing and snorting Adderall pills or taking excessively large doses to experience a more intense effect.

Adderall is abused for many purposes, including the following:

  • Studying
  • Athletic performance
  • Weight loss
  • Recreation
  • To stay awake for long periods

Although people tend to associate the abuse of Adderall with young people such as college students, many older people also abuse the drug.

Who Abuses Adderall?


Athletes may abuse Adderall to counteract fatigue and improve performance during practice and in competitions. In 2012, Adderall was involved in a record-breaking year of suspensions in the National Football League related to drug use.

Students and Professionals

Adderall’s ability to increase focus and help people stay awake for longer than normal makes it highly appealing. Students and working professionals often abuse Adderall to surmount ever-increasing demands and deadlines at school and work.

People with Anorexia/Eating Disorders

People suffering from anorexia or other eating disorders may abuse Adderall because it can be a very effective appetite suppressant. If someone struggling with an eating disorder develops an addiction to Adderall, they will often require a medical approach that treats both issues concurrently.

Adderall Overdose

Adderall abuse can result in severe health-related problems for any of these risk groups, including a life-threatening overdose. Signs of an Adderall overdose may include the following:

  • Chest pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Fainting
  • Fever

Getting Treatment

The longer a person has been abusing Adderall, the more powerful an addiction can become. Withdrawal symptoms that onset shortly after quitting can make it challenging for users to quit on their own.

Fortunately, an addiction to Adderall is very treatable, and there are many options available for addressing this addiction, such as behavioral therapy and outpatient rehab. If you need help overcoming an addiction to Adderall, please contact Harmony Recovery today!

Related: Drinking on Adderall: Understanding the Risks

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