For a college student with a heavy class load and final exams quickly approaching, using Adderall to get over the “hump” may not only be tempting, but also make perfect sense. Adderall’s effects produce increased energy levels, improved focus and concentration as well as a good mood, all of which can make it that much easier to do well on exams.
As promising as it all may seem, Adderall does have a dark side that shows up shortly after taking it. Amphetamine withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, especially when taking this drug on a frequent basis.
While having an amphetamine withdrawal episode doesn’t necessarily mean you have an addiction, it’s important to understand how this drug works to avoid falling into the addiction trap.
Amphetamine drugs, such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta work by speeding up chemical activities in the brain and central nervous system. For people with ADHD or narcolepsy, these effects can be beneficial. For someone who doesn’t have one of these conditions, amphetamine effects breed widespread chemical imbalances over time.
According to the journal of Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, amphetamine withdrawal episodes develop out of these imbalances, causing symptoms like depression, headaches and exhaustion to develop. Each one of these symptoms reflects the degree of damage done to the chemical systems that regulate them.
Most all types of amphetamine drugs exert powerful effects. Over time, these effects weaken the brain’s functional capacity in terms of its ability to regulate bodily systems as normal.
As the brain grows weaker, larger drug doses are required to produce the same desired effects, according to the University of Maryland. Considering how powerful amphetamine effects can be, brain tolerance levels tend to increase at a rapid rate, which accounts for why regular users reach a point where they have to binge or ingest incredibly large doses at a time.
Ultimately, rising brain tolerance levels become the driving force behind a developing amphetamine addiction.
As a general rule, when amphetamine withdrawal symptoms start to occur, a person has developed an actual physical dependence on the drug. In essence, amphetamine withdrawal episodes indicate the brain needs more of the drug in order to regulate the body’s systems as normal.
The combined effects of rising tolerance levels and growing physical dependence pave the way for amphetamine addiction to develop.
Once psychological dependence takes shape, a full-blown addiction is at work. Psychological dependence works in much the same way as physical dependence only it impacts a person’s mind.
As the mind becomes more dependent on amphetamines, a person starts to believe he or she “needs” the drug to deal with daily life pressures and responsibilities. By the time addiction sets in, compulsive drug-using behavior all but takes over a person’s life.
Not surprisingly, someone who’s addicted will likely experience multiple amphetamine withdrawal episodes within any given day.