Adderall (dextroamphetamine-amphetamine) is not an opioid. Opioids are a category of drugs that include painkilling medications and illicit substances that depress the CNS (central nervous system). Amphetamines such as Adderall have the opposite effect—they stimulate or speed up the CNS through increased production of certain brain chemicals, such as dopamine.
Adderall is indicated for the treatment of ADD/ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy. When used for medical purposes, Adderall can improve an individual’s attention span and focus on an activity and reduce behavioral issues.
However, Adderall is also frequently found illicitly and is used by students and shift workers to promote wakefulness for a prolonged period. It is also abused recreationally in social environments for the elating, euphoric high it can produce.
Despite its therapeutic uses, unfortunately, Adderall’s unwanted side effects may include mental health dysregulation and physiological damage to the brain and internal organs.
How Extended Adderall Use Affects the Brain
Stimulants can improve concentration and energy levels while reducing an individual’s need to sleep and eat. Adderall increases the activity of several neurochemicals in the body, including serotonin, adrenaline, and dopamine.
Over time, dopamine activity changes can affect the brain’s reward center and impair a person’s ability to experience pleasure without chemical support from Adderall or other stimulants. The more frequently Adderall is used or abused, the more pronounced these changes become. Tolerance may develop, and as a result, more Adderall will be needed to achieve the desired effect.
Adderall Effects and Withdrawal
As Adderall is eliminated from the bloodstream, withdrawal symptoms and cravings occur, indicating a physical and/or emotional dependence on the drug. The manner in which Adderall is administered, the average amount used, and duration of abuse can influence an individual’s degree of dependency.
For example, crushing the pills and snorting or injecting the residual powder sends the drug to the brain more rapidly than swallowing them whole and allowing them to digest properly. As a result, altered Adderall administration routes increase the risk of addiction and a potentially life-threatening overdose.
An Adderall-dependent or addicted person may experience irritation, fatigue, sleep disturbances, concentration difficulties, and a loss of motivation when the drug is absent from the body. Abusing amphetamines such as Adderall may also increase the risk of aggression and suicidal ideations.
A person who has abused Adderall for an extended period may find that the emotional aspects of withdrawal are the most intense side effects. The natural production of dopamine has been impaired and results in low mood and difficulty experiencing pleasure without the drug’s presence.
The longer Adderall is misused, the more pronounced mood swings can become when it is no longer in the body. Fortunately, most of these brain changes can be repaired over time with sustained sobriety and professional treatment and support.
In rare instances, Adderall and other prescription stimulants have been reported to lead to psychosis and schizophrenia-like symptoms, such as paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, and other behavioral or mood disturbances. Prolonged use of an amphetamine stimulant and Adderall withdrawal can also trigger anxiety and panic attacks. Certain effects may be exacerbated in those with a history of mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Adderall Side Effects
Stimulants such as Adderall can increase blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature. Repeated use or abuse, especially in excessive doses, can lead to a host of medical issues ranging from stroke to seizures to cardiac arrest.
Prolonged Adderall abuse can also cause additional damage to the heart and cardiovascular system. The most common cardiovascular issues related to ADD/ADHD medications are hypertension (high blood pressure) and tachycardia (rapid heart rate).
Other side effects of extended Adderall abuse include the following:
- Heart disease
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle strain
- Breathing problems
The heart muscle can be weakened by long-term stimulant abuse, resulting in other complications. Functional brain changes and mood and behavioral issues associated with chronic Adderall misuse may also persist unless the individuals quits using Adderall and the drug is safely and permanently removed from the body.
Treatment for Adderall Addiction
Persons suffering from an Adderall dependence not related to a legitimate medical purpose are urged to seek an intensive treatment program that features evidence-based therapies, counseling, and group support.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers employ highly-skilled addiction specialists who deliver these services to those we treat with compassion and expertise. We are dedicated to providing each individual with the resources and support they need to break free from substance abuse and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and wellness.