Adderall Abuse Signs & Effects

Adderall, which is chemically similar to methamphetamine, is a stimulant that is most frequently used to help treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants are a category of drugs that boost the central nervous system’s activity, resulting in an increase in focus. When taken in large doses, stimulants like Adderall can bring on feelings of euphoria. Since Adderall boosts one’s focus and concentration, many people who abuse it are looking for those effects because of their circumstances. For instance, Adderall abuse is common amongst students, physicians, and others who have high-demand careers. One side effect of Adderall is a reduction in appetite, making those who desire to lose weight attracted to abusing this medication. Although Adderall is not as powerful as other stimulants, the abuse of this medication is still very serious, and the continual abuse of it can lead to dangerous effects on an individual’s life. Luckily, there is treatment available to those who grapple with both an eating disorder and Adderall abuse.

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While there is not an extensive amount of data on those adults who abuse Adderall, one study carried out in 2012 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed that the percentage of high school seniors who use Adderall rose from 5.4% in 2009 to 7.6% in 2012. College students who use Adderall were shown to be three to eight times more likely to abuse other substances in conjunction with this medication.

Causes and Risk Factors for Adderall Abuse

Experts tend to agree that substance abuse as a whole, including the abuse of Adderall, comes from genetic and environmental factors, such as:

Genetic: One’s family history can impact his or her likelihood of developing a substance abuse problem. Studies show that those who have family members who abuse substances are much more vulnerable to do so themselves.

Environmental: An individual’s environment can also impact his or her susceptibility in developing an Adderall addiction. Being exposed to people who abuse Adderall increases one’s chances of abusing it, too. Having easy access to Adderall can also impact one’s likelihood of abusing this medication.

Risk Factors:

  • Being in a high-pressure school or occupational situation
  • Being prescribed Adderall
  • Having a friend or family member who takes Adderall
  • Family history of mental illness or substance abuse
  • Personal history of mental illness or substance abuse

Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Abuse

While there are varying symptoms in those who abuse Adderall, below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of abuse:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Stealing money to buy Adderall
  • Social withdrawal
  • Excessive energy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Making multiple doctor’s appointments to obtain multiple prescriptions

Physical symptoms:

  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Weight loss
  • Shaking or jitteriness
  • Insomnia

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Increased alertness and attention

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Hostility
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Adderall Abuse

When abusing a substance like Adderall, a number of pleasurable effects such as appetite suppression, increased energy and concentration, and weight loss can encourage individuals to continue abusing this dangerous drug. However, the long-term effects of Adderall abuse can be deadly, and can include the following:

  • Seizure
  • Death
  • Malnutrition
  • Stroke
  • Legal problems
  • Organ damage
  • Strain on relationships
  • Financial problems
  • Poor performance at work or school, possibly resulting in expulsion or job loss

Co-Occurring Disorders

Those who abuse Adderall often meet diagnostic criteria for other mental health conditions. Sadly, eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, binge-eating disorders, and bulimia nervosa are some of the most common disorders that co-occur alongside Adderall abuse. Some other disorders that can co-occur with Adderall abuse include:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Learning disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Effects of Withdrawal and Overdose

Effects of withdrawal: Attempting to stop abusing Adderall after a long period of continued use can bring about the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Nightmares
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Fatigue
  • Depressive symptoms

Effects of overdose: An overdose can occur when an individual consumes too much of a given substance and his or her body is unable to metabolize it properly. Overdoses are very dangerous and can result in death. If you or someone you know has been abusing Adderall and starts experiencing the following symptoms, obtain medical attention immediately:

  • Nausea
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Elevated temperature
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Confusion
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Panic
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