Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse are often prescribed to those who suffer from attention-deficit disorder, commonly known as ADD. Unfortunately, with the increase in readily available prescription drugs in recent years, there came a dramatic increase in Adderall abuse amongst teenagers and young adults.
Adderall is often referred to as a ‘study drug’ – the psychoactive effects improve alertness and concentration; thus students will take the drug before a big exam in order to optimize study time. A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that abuse is most common among individuals between the ages of 18 and 25. There are many known side effects of Adderall – amongst them being an addiction.
Most psychoactive prescriptions are habit forming, and the risk of addiction is elevated with repeated misuse. Therefore, even if an individual believes that using the drug for studying will not lead to an addictive disorder, even one-time use greatly increases the chances of dependency.
Using Adderall for Studying
According to the Center for Disease Control, or CDC, 3 million children between the ages of 12 and 17 were diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) in 2016. The rates of diagnosis have increased dramatically over time. Why are prescription stimulants so addictive? When an individual takes Adderall or something similar, dopamine and norepinephrine – two chemicals within the brain – are activated.
Dopamine is known as a “feel-good” chemical, and it is directly linked to the reward center in the brain. Norepinephrine affects breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. The combination of these two chemicals makes the user experience a slight “rush.” This is when the medication is used as prescribed, or in very small doses.
Using more than intended or other than prescribed can lead to serious side effects or complications, including rapid breathing, increased heart rate, decreased blood flow, and increased blood pressure. Contrary to what some may believe, it is possible to overdose on Adderall. Every year, there are thousands of hospital visits directly linked to the misuse of this potent medication.
Am I Addicted to Adderall?
As is the case with any chemical substance, using Adderall for an extended length of time (and using it other than as prescribed) will lead to increased tolerance. This means that the user will require greater amounts in order to achieve the same “high” they experienced initially. If you suspect that you or someone you love is struggling with a substance abuse disorder, paying attention to tolerance levels – this can be a good indication.
Other signs of Adderall addiction include strained relationships with friends and family members, an inability to take care of responsibilities, problems at work or at school, and health issues. Psychological symptoms may also crop up – symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, and depressive episodes.
Getting Help for Adderall Addiction
In short, despite the recent fad and the extremely high number of young adults using Adderall to study, it is NEVER a good idea to use any prescription medication other than as prescribed by a medical professional. It is crucial that stimulant drugs like Adderall are only used to treat legitimate, previously diagnosed disorders, such as ADD and ADHD. If you believe that you may be suffering from stimulant addiction, help is available. In many cases, intensive cognitive behavioral therapy can be extremely beneficial.
We at Recreate Life Counseling have extensive experience in all behavioral therapies and in individual and group counseling (including family counseling). We believe that with a strict routine of recovery and a personal commitment to healing, anyone can overcome addiction – no matter how long they have been struggling. For more information on our program of recovery, please feel free to contact us today. Our team of experienced, compassionate, and dedicated professionals are standing by to answer any and every question you may have.