The simple answer is yes Adderall is addictive but even the simple answer requires explanation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 5 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. One of the best treatments for ADHD is the prescription drug Adderall. It is prescribed for narcolepsy as well as ADHD. To fully understand the problems with Adderall addiction it is important to understand exactly what it is, what it does, and what the signs of Adderall addiction are.
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What is Adderall?
Adderall is a very powerful amphetamine that doctors use to treat attention disorders. Unfortunately, like all of its legal and illegal counterparts it is an amphetamine. This very addictive class of drugs includes methamphetamine.
This drug is made up of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, two very powerful stimulants. It works by increasing the stimulus to key neurotransmitters in the brain. This also stimulates the production of dopamine and norepinepherine. Both of these produce a number of pleasurable feelings in the body.
Why People Take Adderall
There are several reasons why people choose to take Adderall that have nothing to do with ADHD or narcolepsy. People who do not need Adderall who take it report:
- increased concentration,
- increased happiness,
- increased motivation,
- increased focus,
- clearer thinking,
- improved study behavior and abilities,
- improved social abilities,
- weight loss, and
- improved satisfaction.
Although not all of these effects are present in all people, many college students feel that Adderall improves both academic and sports performance. As with many drugs there is a fine line between using the drug for constructive purposes and being addicted to it.
Addiction versus Dependence
When considering Adderall as a drug it is important to understand the difference between addiction and dependence. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a compulsion. This compulsion is carried out regardless of negative consequences or effects. This can mean regardless of loss of family, job, and friends. A person who is addicted is not always in control of their actions.
Dependence is another story entirely. People who are dependent on a drug utilize the drug to accomplish certain things. In the case of Adderall, people who are dependent on it, need it to maintain focus and concentration, something lacking when they suffer from ADHD. Being dependent on a drug to treat a condition is not the same as being addicted to it.
Signs of Adderall Addiction
When someone is abusing Adderall, they show signs of the abuse other than a craving for the drug. Some of these are relatively mild while others are more severe and dangerous. The mild symptoms of Adderall abuse are:
- dry mouth,
- loss of appetite,
- uncontrollable shaking, and
- weight loss.
The severe signs of Adderall addiction are:
- blurred vision,
- high blood pressure,
- impaired or slurred speech,
- paranoia and paranoid behavior,
- rapid heart rate,
- shortness of breath,
- swelling not attributable to another cause, and
- weakness in the legs.
It is important if you exhibit any of the severe signs of Adderall abuse and addiction to seek medical help. Some of these signs indicate a far more dangerous issue. Adderall is a stimulant and may cause cardiac issues that require immediate medical attention.
Like any other addictive drug those who stop using Adderall suddenly show signs of withdrawal when they do not have the drug. The signs of Adderall withdrawal include:
- trembling or shaking,
- panic attacks,
- aggressive behavior,
- cold and flu like symptoms,
- sweating without activity, and
- irregular heart beat.
Some of these signs are extremely dangerous. If someone is withdrawing from Adderall, they need medical attention. Like many other drugs, stopping suddenly can kill you without medical help. It is important to either taper off or take medications that help prevent the complications of withdrawal. Like most stimulants, withdrawal can last from 48 hours to months. Most people have a very difficult time concurring stimulant abuse.
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Who is Addicted to Adderall?
According to many addiction and abuse reports Adderall is the drug of choice among college students. Many of these students are ages 18 to 22 years old and use Adderall for concentration and studying. Unlike many drugs, students do not normally use Adderall to get high, they use it to improve studying and retention.
Another disturbing trend is the use of Adderall among athletes. Some college athletes believe that this drug improves physical as well as mental performance despite studies showing that it does not.
If you believe you are addicted to Adderall regardless of the reason you started taking it, it is important that you seek help. Quitting Adderall cold turkey can be dangerous to your health. In small doses Adderall does improve concentration and motivation. Unfortunately in higher doses it does the opposite, negating the reason why many started using it in the first place.
Although the simple answer to the question, is Adderall addictive is yes. This does not mean that if you depend on Adderall for treating ADHD you should stop taking it. The first step in getting help for Adderall addiction, particularly if you take it for ADHD, is talking to your doctor. There are many treatment programs available to help with Adderall addiction.