Recognizing the Signs of Adderall Addiction and Abuse

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

24% of college students routinely use Adderall. Only a handful of them are using it on prescription.

Unfortunately, many people think that prescription drugs are not as harmful as street fixes.

Drugs like Adderall are addictive, and the user goes through the same pattern of addiction on it, as they would on any other hard substance.

This article will lift the veil from Adderall and give you insights on the warning signs of Adderall addiction.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a potent central nervous system stimulant (CNS). It’s a commonly prescribed drug that combines amphetamine and dexamphetamine.

Nervous system stimulants are drugs that heighten or speed up certain bodily functions.

Doctors prescribe this drug to treat narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Typically, a doctor starts patients on a small dose and increases it gradually.

This is done to avoid negative side effects.

The drug comes as a tablet to be taken orally, although abusers of the drug are known to crush and snort it for quicker effects.

Adderall Abuse

Adderall abuse occurs in one of several ways.

The most common one is taking higher doses than those prescribed by a doctor or taking it more often than prescribed.

An abuser can also take someone else’s Adderall for non -medical reasons such as to stay awake longer.

In other instances, the pills are bought from illicit sources for recreational use.
For people with ADHD, Adderall calms the brain down enough for them to concentrate better.

For people without narcolepsy, the drug works as a stimulant, reducing the need to sleep while heightening focus and concentration.

This is the feeling Adderall abusers seek it for.

This effect has made Adderall a go-to drug for college students because they can go hours studying before exams. Its popularity with students has earned it the name “college crack.”

However, this is not all it’s used for. Adderall makes people feel larger than life at parties.

Aside from making one the life of the party, it represses one’s appetite. This makes it a drug of choice for people overly concerned with their self-image, particular, weight gain.

Effects of Adderall Abuse

Long term use of Adderall can lead to typical signs of substance abuse disorders. Some of the more serious concerns include the following.

1. Tolerance

The more you ingest the drug, the more your body builds tolerance, which means upping the dosage to replicate the initial high.

This becomes the hallmark of an overdose because you need more and more substance at each hit to feel the desired effect.

2. Dependency

The body builds dependency over time, meaning it functions sub-optimally without the drug in the system.

3. Addiction

When one develops an addiction, it means they will continue to seek their drug of choice compulsively. Persistent use continues despite full knowledge of its risks and negative consequences.

How can you tell when someone has an Adderall addiction?

Signs of Adderall Addiction

The addict may exhibit:

• Anxiety
• Fatigue
• Unusual talkativeness
• Restlessness
• A hoarse voice
• Overworking or over concentrating
• Running out of prescribed Adderall before schedule (if prescribed)
• Frequent complaints of headaches and nausea
• Digestive problems including constipation and diarrhea
• Shortness of breath or an irregular heartbeat
• Changes in sleeping habits like insomnia or disturbed sleep
• Social withdrawal and uncharacteristic secretiveness
• Changes in sex drive
• The frequent ingestion of unexplained pills
• Relationship and financial problems
• A decline in grooming and personal hygiene
• Excessive weight loss as a result of a poor appetite

It is important to note that an addict does not necessary have to exhibit all of the above signs. If you notice changes in behavior in a loved one, it is important to investigate further.

More Serious Signs of Adderall Abuse

The abuse of this drug can lead to more serious side effects. Watch out for the following signs.

• Fevers
• High blood pressure and dizziness
• Chest pains
• Manic behavior, paranoia, hallucinations or depression
• Numbness
• Muscle weakness
• Convulsions and seizures
• Skin Irritations
• Altered vision

When these signs begin to manifest, it means that the problem cannot be wished away. Get help as soon as you can.

Symptoms of an Adderall Overdose

Overdosing on this drug can lead to severe health consequences. If you observe the following symptoms, call 911 or your local emergency health services.

• Hyperventilating or signs of a panic attack
• Hallucinations
• Uncontrollable tremors
• Profound delirium or confusion
• Vertigo
• Loss of consciousness or slipping into a coma

An Adderall overdose is a medical emergency that requires quick intervention by a medical practitioner.

Adderall Dependence vs Adderall Addiction

Addiction is characterized by a physical or psychological reliance on a drug, accompanied by a set of behaviors.

Addicted individuals are unable to cope with the day to day lives without taking the drug. They crave the drug obsessively to a point where nothing else matters aside from getting their next dose.

A dependence, on the other hand, is a normal physiological reaction to a drug. This results from the person’s physical interactions a drug has with one’s body.

This is something that happens even when patients take Adderall as prescribed. This dependence is physical, not psychological.

While someone dependent on Adderall might need a doctor to wean them off the drug, they are not obsessively craving for the drug.

Who Commonly Abuses Adderall?

Anyone can get caught up in drug use, at any point in their lives. However, certain groups of the population are more susceptible than others.

Students

Students prominently make this list because of their sometimes overwhelming school schedules and the need for an active social life.

College students specifically contribute large numbers of the Adderall user’s population.

People with eating disorders

Adderall suppresses appetite, making it popular among people with eating disorders. Treating this requires a plan that addresses the addiction and cognitive behavioral therapy to address the underlying eating disorder.

Athletes

Despite it being banned in virtually all sports organizations, athletes may get on the drug to enhance performance and counter fatigue.

The Road to Recovery

The best outcomes for addiction can only be realized through treatment.

Once you recognize the signs of Adderall addiction in a loved one, getting them into a treatment plan is the best course of action.

At 1st Step Behavioral Health, our goal is to change lives. When we do this, treating addiction has better outcomes, and it gives our patients the best chances of reclaiming their lives back.

Are you or a loved one struggling with an addiction or a mental health issue, talk to us today and let us walk the journey with you.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.