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Adderall Addiction: Some Important Facts

Adderall is the trade name for a prescription medicine used for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Chemically, Adderall is composed of two stimulant drugs, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall was first approved by FDA in 1960 to be used for medicinal purposes. It is a Central Nervous System stimulant and because of its properties of increasing concentration and attention span, it is widely being abused by students. Adderall as well as other amphetamines are commonly called “brain boosters” or “study drugs” because they are falsely considered to be helpful for improving cognitive abilities. In reality, the abuse of the drug may produce exactly the opposite effects, hampering the mental abilities.

Adderall Addiction: Some Important Facts

Table of Contents:

  • 1.What is Adderall?
  • 2.What is Adderall used for?
  • 3.What are the non-medical uses of Adderall?
  • 4.What are the dosage amounts for Adderall?
  • 5.What are the symptoms of Adderall overdose?
  • 6.Can Adderall be addictive?
  • 7.What are the effects produced by Adderall abuse?
  • 8.Common Adderall Drug Combinations
  • 9.Using Adderall During Pregnancy
  • 10.Facts and Figures on Adderall Abuse

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of a number of disorders such as ADHD and narcolepsy. Chemically, it is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, both of which are Central Nervous System stimulants. Adderall works by stimulating the brain to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter, in higher than normal quantities. Dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward centers of the brain and when produced in high quantities, euphoric effects are experienced by the user.

It is a general misconception that Adderall improves cognitive abilities and facilitates the process of learning. Due to this belief, students are highly likely to abuse the drug in an attempt to perform better on exams. The two most common side effects produced by the medication, insomnia and loss of appetite, are desirable for students since they enable them to study without having a need to eat or sleep. Because Adderall is often sold illegally without a prescription, a number of street names are given to the drug to avoid unnecessary attention, such as:

  • Addy
  • Speed
  • Study Buddies
  • Smart Pills
  • Uppers
  • Bennies
  • Wake-ups

What is Adderall used for?

Adderall is a medication approved by Food and Drug Authority (FDA) for the treatment of narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in kids and adults.

  • When used for the treatment of ADHD, Adderall helps to improve symptoms associated with the disease such as difficulty focusing, fidgeting behavior and restlessness.
  • When used for the treatment of narcolepsy, Adderall helps to prevent excessive day time sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep during the day.

Studies show that prescription of medications for the treatment of ADHD has increased by 45% from 2002 to 2010 and among the medications prescribed for ADHD; Adderall was second most commonly prescribed drug.

Adderall is used by physicians for the treatment of a few other conditions as well, that are not approved by FDA:

  • Depression that is not cured by traditional medications
  • Some types of obesity

Apart from these effects, some unpleasant side effects are also associated with the medication so having proper knowledge about the drug, its effects and side effects is important before a person proceeds to start taking the drug.

What are the non-medical uses of Adderall?

Adderall can be bought without a prescription via illegal means and it is often used for non-therapeutic purposes. It is a very popular drug among college students who use it to stay awake for extended periods of time. Non medical use of the drug greatly increases the chances of developing dependence. Adderall may be used non-medically with an intend to:

  • Stay focused
  • Increase energy levels
  • Induced insomnia
  • Decrease appetite for dieting purposes
  • Increase alertness
  • Increase concentration
  • Improve cognitive abilities

Medically, the medication is not known to improve any mental capabilities or help with learning process.

What are the dosage amounts for Adderall?

The dosage amounts for Adderall may vary greatly depending upon the age of the patient, specific needs and the medical condition Adderall is being used for.

  • Initially, small dose of medication is prescribed that is increased gradually.
  • The recommended dose of the drug is the lowest possible dose that’s successfully works for a certain condition.
  • Children over the age of 5 years who are taking Adderall for the treatment of ADHD usually start with 5mg that is gradually increased to 30mg.
  • For the treatment of narcolepsy, the dosage starts at 5mg and is gradually increased to 60mg.
  • For the treatment of ADHD in adults, dose starts at 20mg per day.
  • Adderall is not recommended for the children under 3 years of age.
What are the symptoms for Adderall overdose?

It is possible to overdose on Adderall and the overdose occurs when higher than prescribed quantities of drug are taken. The symptoms for Adderall overdose include:

  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Increased respiratory rate
Can Adderall be addictive?

Adderall is not addictive if used exactly as prescribed but its abuse can lead to addiction. The effects produced by the drug include feeling energized and productive. Continued use of the drug produces tolerance and it takes higher amounts to achieve the same effects. If the situation is left to progress unchecked; the results are abuse, addiction and dependence.

What are the effects produced by Adderall abuse?

Just like every other drug, Adderall abuse is linked to physical, mental and psychological damage. The effects can be both short term and long term.

Short term effects:

  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Malnutrition induced by loss of appetite
  • Extreme restlessness

Continued abuse produces even more dangerous side effects.

Long term effects:

  • Addiction
  • Decreased concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks
  • Excessive irritability
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Lack of motivation
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Cardiovascular disease
Common Adderall Drug Combinations:

When Adderall is used in combination with other drugs, the side effects produced are heightened a great deal. Some common drugs that are used in combination with Adderall include Xanax, marijuana and alcohol.

Combining alcohol with Adderall is dangerous because its stimulant nature delays the effects produced by alcohol such as drowsiness, poor coordination etc. This specific combination may also lead to alcohol poisoning.

There is not sufficient evidence to determine definite effects caused by using Adderall combined with marijuana but the users have reported that effects produced by marijuana are suppressed by Adderall. It not only increases the tolerance for marijuana but also suppresses side effects so the user fails to determine when he has had enough marijuana that may lead to an overdose.

Combining Adderall with Xanax greatly increases the chances for addiction since both the drugs are addictive by nature. The probability of overdosing is also increased because one ends up masking the effects of the other forcing the user to intake either Xanax or Adderall beyond the safe levels.

Using Adderall during Pregnancy:

Taking Adderall during pregnancy may prove to be harmful for the fetus. So if a user intends to take Adderall during pregnancy, a doctor should be consulted beforehand. Also, if there are chances to become pregnant or user comes to know about pregnancy later during the usage of Adderall, the usage should be discontinued immediately.

The drug must also not be used during lactation since the drug may pass to baby via breast milk.

Facts and Figures on Adderall Abuse:
  • About 60% of all the Adderall abusers range from 18 to 25 years of age. It highlights the fact that students tend to misuse it for what are considered to be its positive effects.
  • In 2007, 60% of the total teens surveyed revealed that stress was the main reason for them abusing Adderall.
  • Stimulants like Adderall, commonly dubbed as smart pills, are second most commonly abused drug type by students.
  • Because it increases dopamine production, which is associated with euphoric feelings, it is widely being abused by people taking it as a recreational pill.
  • Survey revealed that between the years 2006 and 2011, emergency room cases related to Adderall abuse increased by 156%.
  • Adderall is used as a diet pill for people who are trying to lose weight. The loss of appetite caused by the drug enables people to successfully resist the food.


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