Adderall is the brand name for a mixed amphetamine salt preparation. It contains both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It’s a central nervous system stimulant. It comes in both immediate-release and extended-release dosage forms. It’s prescribed mainly for narcolepsy and attention-deficit disorders in both children and adults. Narcolepsy is a brain disorder that causes people with it to fall asleep without warning. When Adderall is used as directed under careful medical supervision, it is safe and effective.
However, Adderall is highly popular as a drug of abuse. It’s sold on the black market under such slang names as Addys and Study Buddies. The latter term refers to its popularity among college students, who may use it to stay awake for all-night study cram sessions.
Adderall can cause intense feelings of euphoria, energy and power. Its effects are similar to those of cocaine, which is also a central nervous system stimulant. Repeated use of Adderall will cause profound changes in the brain. Amphetamines are addictive and can produce a withdrawal syndrome when suddenly stopped. Side effects of Adderall include:
- Fast heartbeat
- Weight loss that can be extreme
- Chest pain and shortness of breath
If you suspect that someone you know is abusing Adderall, watch for aggressive behavior, slovenly personal hygiene, missing money or valuables, paranoia, slipping grades at school, loss of a job, fast talking that may be nonsensical, weight loss and exhaustion.
The Risks of Abuse
Larger Adderall doses can cause a disrupted heart rhythm and high blood pressure. Adderall overdose can cause a fatal heart attack and stroke. Tolerance, or the need to take more of a drug to get the desired effect, develops rapidly to amphetamines. As tolerance rises, so does the dose, and so does the chance for a fatal cardiac event.
Amphetamines work in the brain to increase levels of certain brain chemicals that are known as neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters allow neurons, or brain cells, to communicate with each other. Amphetamines target the neurotransmitters called dopamine and norepinephrine. This results in increased mental focus and increased energy levels. Higher dopamine levels produce feelings of pleasure, reward and euphoria. These effects reinforce further use of the drug. Repeated use of Adderall can cause these neurotransmitters to be depleted. When the drug is suddenly stopped, profound depression can result. Other Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:
- Panic attacks
- Falling into a deep sleep for a day or more
- Extreme fatigue
- Adderall Detox
Detox from this drug should take place in a medically-supervised inpatient setting. Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs will help ease the more extreme withdrawal symptoms. Suicide from Adderall detox is a real risk. The withdrawing addict has depleted their natural stores of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. This results in feelings of extreme despair and may even lead to a suicide attempt. Supportive medical care and supervision is critical at this time.
The brain will eventually ramp up its production of dopamine again, but this can take weeks and even longer. Meantime, the withdrawing Adderall addict will need medical assistance and the moral support of family, friends and other recovering addicts.
Adderall: Death and Paranoia
If you abuse Adderall, you are risking sudden death. Acute amphetamine intoxication severe enough to cause death can happen to anyone who abuses this drug. You also risk brain derangement leading to extreme paranoia. You may hallucinate. You may think that everyone is against you. Amphetamine-induced insomnia may keep you up for days on end, contributing to the risk of paranoia.
Paranoid amphetamine abusers have been known to call 911, reporting to arriving paramedics that 100 people in orange T-shirts are standing outside their house. They may claim that little men living in the basement have eaten all their food. These things may sound funny, but there’s really nothing amusing about having no control over your own mind.
If you need to use Adderall for medical reasons and you take it only as prescribed, this article doesn’t apply to you. Just be sure to report any concerns to your physician. For those of you who take Adderall to get high and for other non-medical reasons, you should seek help, especially if you use it daily. Protect your brain and your heart. Seek help before your Adderall addictiongets any worse.