Adderall Addiction Rehab Guide
Adderall can be an effective medication, but misuse and addiction is a problem throughout the country.1 (p20) According to a 2019 survey, close to 5 million Americans aged 12 or older had misused some sort of prescription stimulant, including Adderall, within the last year.1 The highest rates of prescription stimulant misuse was found in people between the ages of 18 and 25.1 (p20) Adderall use doubled between 2006 and 2016.2 Adderall abuse increased slightly among 8th and 12th graders, but decreased among 10th graders in 2020.3
Even though prescription stimulant use has been on the rise across the country, Nevada has one of the lowest rates of use reported in the country.2 This doesn’t mean that Adderall abuse isn’t an issue in Nevada, however.
This article will help answer the following questions:
- What is Adderall?
- Why do people abuse Adderall?
- What are the physical and psychological effects of Adderall?
- Is Adderall addictive?
- What are some signs of Adderall abuse?
- Should I go to rehab for Adderall addiction?
- What can I expect during treatment for Adderall addiction?
- How can I get help for Adderall addiction?
What is Adderall Prescribed For?
Adderall (dextroamphetamine/amphetamine) is a central nervous system stimulant.4, 5 It is available only by prescription, and is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance.4 Adderall is approved to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.4, 5 Similar medications within this class that are used to treat ADHD include Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), Ritalin (methylphenidate), Concerta (methylphenidate), and Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine).2, 6
Side Effects of Adderall
When used as prescribed and under the supervision of a medical professional, Adderall can effectively treat ADHD symptoms such as having difficulty staying focused, being easily distracted, or being overactive.5 (p112), 6 (p1), 7 (p1) Much like other medications, there are side effects associated with taking Adderall, which are more likely to occur if Adderall is taken in large doses, over a long period of time, or without the proper supervision of a doctor.4,3,7
Taking Adderall can have short-term side effects, which may include:4,5,7,8
- Aggressive or hostile behavior.
- Bad taste in your mouth.
- Blurred vision.
- Dry mouth.
- Heart palpitations.
- Impaired judgment.
- Impotence in men.
- Inability to sleep, even when tired.
- Increased desire to socialize.
- Increased energy.
- Loss of appetite.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Raised blood pressure, blood glucose levels, body temperature, and heart rate.
- Reduction in sex drive.
- Skin problems including hives or a rash.
- Stomach issues including constipation or diarrhea.
Side effects of taking Adderall long-term can include:4,5,7,8
- Cardiovascular issues including abnormal heart rhythms, damage to the heart muscle, heart attack, and stroke.
- New or worsening symptoms of certain mental health issues including anxiety, depression, mania, psychosis, or suicidal ideation.
- Sores from picking at your skin.
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Weight loss and malnutrition.
- Worsening of existing tics or Tourette’s syndrome.
- Development of an addiction.
The Effects of Adderall on the Brain
Adderall is very similar to specific neurotransmitters (naturally occurring chemicals in the brain) known as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.5 Taking Adderall causes an increase in the release of these neurotransmitters and prevents them from being reabsorbed into nerve cells in the brain, so that the neurotransmitters are available for longer, leading to longer-lasting effects.4,5 This is what causes Adderall to increase your ability to focus, avoid distractions, stay awake longer, think more clearly, improve mood, and process information more effectively.8 In people with ADHD, it can reduce fidgeting and hyperactivity but can increase this in people who don’t have ADHD.8 In high doses or when abused, it can cause euphoria due to the massive increase in dopamine.7
What are The Effects of Snorting Adderall?
Adderall may be abused by crushing the pills and snorting the powder.6,7,9 This results in a flood of dopamine being released quickly, leading to a “rush” or feeling of euphoria.7 Snorting Adderall causes the effects to be felt much more quickly than they would be if it was taken orally since it is absorbed right into the bloodstream rather than having to be processed through the digestive tract.9This also means that more of the drug is absorbed.9 Substance abuse is reinforced when the effects are felt more quickly.9 Taking Adderall in this manner makes it more likely that you will develop an addiction.7, 9 In addition, frequently snorting Adderall could potentially lead to a chronic stuffy nose, nosebleed, or damage to the nasal passages.
Am I Addicted to Adderall?
Addiction and dependence are similar concepts, but there are important differences between them. As a Schedule II substance, there is a high likelihood of developing dependence or an addiction to Adderall.4 Addiction to Adderall may be referred to as a stimulant use disorder, and is a disease that can impair your ability to function in one or more life areas.10 An addiction changes the way you think and behave, and it creates lasting changes in the brain that don’t go away just because you stop using Adderall.10, 11 There are a variety of factors that contribute to the development of an addiction, including your personality, genetics, when you began using substances, the substance(s) you use, if you abuse them, and factors involving your upbringing and current stressors.6,11
Long-term use of Adderall can cause a physical dependence on it.4 When you take Adderall regularly, your body stops producing normal levels of neurotransmitters (relying solely on Adderall for these chemicals) and cannot function properly without it.8, 12 If you are physically dependent on Adderall and suddenly stop taking it, you will likely experience a “crash” that involves feelings of exhaustion, depression, and an increased need for food and sleep.6, 10 Physical dependence can be one of the criteria of an addiction, but it doesn’t have to be present for a diagnosis.10
Signs of Adderall Abuse
There are some red flags to be aware of if you are worried that you or someone you care about is abusing or addicted to Adderall. These may include changes in appearance or behavior. If you or a loved one is exhibiting these warning signs, it can indicate a possible problem with Adderall abuse or addiction.
Physical symptoms of Adderall abuse or addiction can include:5 ,7,8
- Dilated pupils.
- Increased energy levels.
- Staying awake for long periods of time.
- Weight loss.
Behavioral signs of Adderall abuse or addiction can include:7 , 10
- Changing social groups or isolating.
- Getting Adderall from multiple doctors or pharmacies or buying it illegally.
- Having difficulty completing tasks because of Adderall use.
- Having withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking Adderall.
- Inability to stop using Adderall even when it has created or aggravated medical or psychiatric problems or relationship issues.
- Loss of ability to control use of Adderall, even if you want to.
- Needing more Adderall to feel the same effect or get high.
- Not being able to function without Adderall.
- Taking Adderall differently than intended—higher doses than prescribed, taking it when it isn’t prescribed for you, or snorting it.
- Using Adderall in situations that can be physically dangerous.
Rehab for Adderall Addiction
Adderall addiction can be effectively treated, much like any other substance use disorder.6, 11 (p4) Care is available in the full spectrum of treatment settings, and can make use of a combination of behavioral therapies and medication-assisted treatment.6, 11, 13 Addiction affects each person differently, so treatment plans should be developed to meet each of your unique needs.11
Withdrawal from stimulants like Adderall doesn’t generally involve the risk of physical harm, unlike the withdrawal from other substances.8,13 However, Adderall withdrawal can involve significant psychological risk.8, 13 If prolonged Adderall use is suddenly stopped, severe depression can occur, potentially leading to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.8 , 13 Attending a medical detox can provide a safe and medically supervised environment where you can withdraw from Adderall and receive antidepressants if needed to reduce depression symptoms and suicide risk.11 ,13
While detox is a great first step towards recovery, it won’t create lasting change. It should be followed up with additional treatment at an inpatient or outpatient setting for best results.11 Inpatient treatment involves living at the facility for 3-6 weeks while receiving around-the-clock care, intensive group therapy, individual counseling sessions, and psychiatric and medical care as needed.11 (p27) Outpatient treatment involves receiving less intensive group therapy, weekly individual counseling sessions, and psychiatric care as needed. You live at home and can continue to participate in your usual daily responsibilities.11 (p27)
Behavioral therapy techniques are designed to increase your ability to stay sober from adderall through building various skills, such as increased motivation towards staying in treatment and maintaining sobriety, avoiding relapse, learning how to cope with stressors and triggers, encouraging 12-step meeting attendance and participation, developing effective problem-solving skills, and improving interpersonal communication skills.6, 11 If Adderall addiction has affected your physical health, employment, or created legal problems, your treatment plan can also address this.11 A non-stimulant medication may be prescribed if you have an ADHD diagnosis.11,14
Getting Help for Adderall Addiction
As one of the country’s main providers of substance use treatment, American Addiction Centers can help you address Adderall abuse or addiction, no matter where you live.15 American Addiction Centers has facilities across the country, including one in Las Vegas, Nevada, which all offer a full range of care, from medical detox to outpatient care and recovery houses.15, 16 Each treatment plan is specialized to ensure that it meets your individual needs.17 For assistance or information about how American Addiction Centers can help you beat Adderall abuse or addiction, our free, confidential helpline is available 24/7 at 702-800-2682.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2020). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Piper, B.J., Ogden, C.L., Simoyan, O.M., Chung, D.Y., Caggiano, J.F., Nichols, S.D., & McCall, K.L. (2018). Trends in use of prescription stimulants in the United States and Territories, 2006 to 2016. PLOS One, 13(11).
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in the prevalence of various drugs.
- Food and Drug Administration. (2007). Adderall (CII).
- Foley, K.F. (2005). Mechanism of action and therapeutic uses of psychostimulants. Clinical Laboratory Science, 18(2), 107-113.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Prescription stimulants.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Stimulant ADHD medications: Methylphenidate and amphetamines.
- Sherzada, A. (2012). An analysis of ADHD drugs: Ritalin and Adderall. JCCC Honors Journal, 3(1).
- Lile, J.A., Babalonis, S., Emurian, C., Martin, C.A., Wermeling, D.P., & Kelly, T.H. (2011). Comparison of the behavioral and cardiovascular effects of intranasal and oral d-amphetamine in healthy human subjects. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 51(6), 888-898.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse.(2020). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (Third edition).
- Shoptaw, S.J., Kao, U., Heinzerling, K., & Ling, W. (2009). Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2009(2).
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment. Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series 45, DHHS Publication No. (SMA) 06-4131. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- Mariani, J.J., & Levin, F.R. (2007). Treatment strategies for co-occurring ADHD and substance use disorders. The American Journal on Addictions, 16 (Suppl 1), 45-56.
- American Addiction Centers. (2021). American Addiction Centers.
- American Addiction Centers. (2021). Desert Hope Las Vegas treatment center.
- American Addiction Centers. (2021). Substance abuse treatment services.
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