Even though the stimulant medication Adderall is widely prescribed to children to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, it is addictive. A mixture of amphetamine salts, Adderall produces a high similar to meth when taken in high doses and by people who do not need it for medical purposes.
Many hospital, outpatient and sober living environment programs exist to assist Adderall addicts with getting and staying clean. Each relies on the same mix of treatment options, which are discussed below. An easy-to-follow set of stimulant addiction guidelines for clinicians is available for free from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
As noted in the Drug Abuse and Dependence section of the FDA-approved labeling for Adderall, signs that indicate you are addicted to the stimulant can include the following:
Addicts who stop taking Adderall can sink into deep depression and experience extreme fatigue. Despite feeling very tired, you can find a falling and staying asleep difficult. Dreams can get disturbing, as well.
Detoxing — getting Adderall out of your system — can take days or weeks. The time to get sober depends on how much of the medication you were taking. Unfortunately, and despite many attempts to identify medications that curb stimulant withdrawal symptoms, no drugs have proven consistently effective for counteracting the difficulty of detox.
Similarly, as the National Alliance on Mental Illness notes, “there is no medication that can cure stimulant abuse.”
Little research seems to have been done specifically on whether attending Narcotics Anonymous and/or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings can help addicts abstain from taking Adderall. However, a five-year follow-up study of stimulant users reported in the January 2008 issue of the journal Addiction led to the conclusion that “NA/AA can support and supplement residential addiction treatment as an aftercare resource. In view of the generally poor alcohol use outcomes achieved by drug-dependent patients after treatment, the improved alcohol outcomes of NA/AA attenders suggests that the effectiveness of existing treatment services may be improved by initiatives that lead to increased involvement and engagement with such groups.”
One-on-one and group counseling has also been shown to help with many types of stimulant abuse and dependence. One particularly promising study, reported in Psychology of Addictive Behaviors in March 2013, revealed that brief phone calls from mental health care providers helped former users refrain from taking Adderall and other addictive drugs.
Another approach that has shown a fair amount of success for keeping Adderall addicts from beginning to take the medication again is cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT. You can read a more detailed description of this treatment method on the NAMI website. Essentially, CBT works by helping addicts recognize triggers that prompt them to take drugs and then develop coping mechanisms.
So, many types of Adderall addiction treatment and help are available. The options appear to produce the best outcomes in terms of improving physical health, reducing cravings and preventing relapse when used in combination and pursued for extended periods.