Adderall is a prescribed amphetamine medication that stimulates nerve cell activities in the brain and central nervous system (CNS) to increase focus and attention spans for those suffering from attentions deficit disorders such as ADD and ADHD. While these disorders commonly appear in children, they can also be diagnosed in the later stages of life.
Adderall abuse is well documented as a popular performance and academic enhancing medication preferred among college students and those individuals looking for a cheap and easily obtainable “high” similar to cocaine. What most Adderall abusers are unaware of is that this drug’s amphetamine properties can become addicting.
Adderall addiction symptoms start out subtly. The person may enjoy the euphoria and elevated moods, the energy and focus that allows them to stay awake, alert, and focused to get their work done, or the senses of empowerment, but, these symptoms are short-lived. As a result, abusers are enticed to consume more Adderall. As tolerance and dosages of Adderall increase, so do the positive and negative reinforcements to continue using.
The positive rewards of using Adderall progresses into physical and psychological dependence where the rewards of using the drug become as natural as sleeping, eating, or having sex. At this stage, the person discovers that higher doses produce greater effects and they may switch the route of administration to get a more rapid response or prolong the duration.
The negative reinforcement of continued use of Adderall comes when usage ceases and the whole world appears to come crashing down. At this stage, the person will usually continue using Adderall to avoid the withdrawal, despite adverse consequences; and according to the SAMHSA, This shift from substance use as positive reinforcement to negative reinforcement is, perhaps, one of the foremost characteristics of late-stage addiction.”
The symptom of craving is the central aspect of Adderall addiction that compels the user to seek and obtain the drugs to feel better. Depending on the effects the person is looking for, these cravings can become stronger with every use and the time between them dwindles away. Uncontrollable craving for Adderall can lead the addict into a whole new realm of negativity and frustrations if the drug is not available to use.
Accumulated effects of repeat Adderall use changes the structure and function of brain neurons and their communication between other neurons creating instability in the neurological processes. Even in therapeutic doses, Adderall can affect emotional stability and should be closely monitored, but, with the higher doses that are often associated with Adderall addiction, the symptoms can be devastating and debilitating. Like a tornado, the uncontrollable anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalances, and mood swings back and forth are common Adderall addiction symptoms.
Aggressive and Violent Behavior
Aggressive and violent behaviors are all too common Adderall addiction symptoms that can, in part, be caused by impaired neurological functions, over-stimulated nerves, lack of sleep, stress, or a number of other physiological disturbances.
Depression and Suicidal Ideations
The Adderall addiction symptoms of depression and suicidal ideations are most concerning as the repeat exposures and intoxications over-stimulate the brain and CNS adaptation to compensate for these over-stimulations can result in depression so severe that the addict begins to picture death as a viable option to end it.
Ironically, cognitive enhancement during the beginning use of Adderall end up in cognitive deficits with high dosage abuse and the symptoms of memory loss, inability to focus, and poor attention spans. According to the SAMHSA, “Work performance and social and family relations can be adversely affected, and the risk of arrest and conviction on drug-related charges increases. Even after a stimulant user discontinues use, impairments in cognition and functioning may persist, and there may even be persistent psychiatric symptoms.”
Loss of Enjoyment
Repeat Adderall use disrupts the brain’s natural ability to maintain chemical balances of dopamine which helps to regulate pleasure and satisfaction. Once natural dopamine is depleted and the dopamine receptors in the brain become damaged, the person loses their ability to enjoy pleasures without the artificial productions of dopamine via Adderall use.
Loss of Interest in Social Activities or Relationships
Loss of interest in social activities such as work, school, family and other events is an Adderall addiction symptom that can be dangerous and lead to increased depression. Isolation may be a result of the feelings of guilt, inferiority, shame, distress, fatigue, and the simple fact that the body is out of function because of the Adderall use.
Paranoia is a symptom of Adderall addiction resulting from adverse neurological functioning. Paranoia is a common Adderall addiction symptom that can persist long after intoxication or appear in even the smallest of doses if the person has developed sensitization to the drug.
Insomnia, unusual sleep patterns, sleep disturbances, and nightmares are common Adderall addiction symptoms that can contribute to psychological, emotional, and physical distress making everyday life that much more difficult to get through. It may come to the point where a dose of Adderall is taken multiple times a day to stave off fatigue and other weakness with higher doses needed each time.
Physical Health Deteriorations
Disregard for physical health deterioration is an Adderall addiction symptom that can have life-threatening consequences. Adderall increases heart rate and blood pressure which can have long-term cardiovascular issues and the person’s health may deteriorate through reduced immunology or the contracting of diseases and infections which can elevate the risk of overdoses, organ damages and impairments.