Adderall, a stimulant medication, is an effective treatment for many people who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When it is taken as prescribed, it can significantly reduce the symptoms of ADHD, allowing sufferers to live productive and fulfilling lives. However, when Adderall is taken in ways other than it’s prescribed, or over a long period of time, it can result in some very negative long-term effects, including addiction.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Adderall Abuse?
People who abuse Adderall or become addicted to the medication and use it heavily over a period of time are at risk of some serious long-term effects. They may experience:
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Sleep problems
- Irritability or aggression
- Depression or suicidal ideations
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Weight loss
- Cardiovascular problems
- Brain damage
- Stomach problems including constipation and nausea
- Overdose and death
Using Adderall increases heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. When it’s used in high doses or abused, it can result in severe medical problems like seizure, stroke, and heart attack. Sudden cardiac death is also sometimes a potential side affect of the drug.
When used or abused over a period of time, the heart muscle may weaken, which may lead to even more medical complications. Additionally, prolonged Adderall use may cause changes in the brain.
People who become addicted to Adderall are also more at risk of becoming addicted to other substances. Adderall addiction often accompanies other addictions as well. This can cause damage to the brain, internal systems, and organs.
How Does Long-Term Adderall Abuse Affect the Brain?
Stimulants like Adderall increase an individual’s attention, concentration, and energy levels, while at the same time suppressing the appetite and reducing the need for sleep. It does this by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. As that happens over time, the changes in dopamine can actually change the reward center of the brain. That, in turn, can alter the user’s ability to feel pleasure without the support of continued Adderall usage.
How Does Adderall Addiction Happen?
The more Adderall that is taken, the more deep-rooted these brain changes will become, causing the user to build up a tolerance to the medication. When that happens, higher doses need to be taken to achieve the same effects. As the drug is expelled from the bloodstream, withdrawal symptoms and cravings for more begin. This is how physical dependence and addiction begins.
When you develop a tolerance to Adderall, it can be tempting to increase doses or the frequency you take it. Additionally, some people will change the way they take Adderall to feel the effects of the drug faster. Chewing the pills or crushing them for snorting or injecting will get the drug into the bloodstream much faster than ingesting them. Injecting or snorting Adderall can put you at a serious risk of overdose and death. Changing the way an individual takes Adderall to get it into the bloodstream quicker is definitely an indicator of addiction.
Withdrawal from Adderall can be uncomfortable physically and emotionally. Because the normal production of dopamine is reduced, depression, low moods, and the inability to feel pleasure without the drug occurs. This often leads to relapse, because using the medication again will provide relief.
Addiction is a disease that affects each individual differently. There are environmental and biological factors that come into play. Whatever the circumstance, once addicted, it can be extremely difficult to stop using Adderall on your own. It’s important to seek help for your addiction, beginning with detox and continuing on to outpatient or inpatient addiction treatment.
What to Do If You Think You’re Addicted to Adderall
If you or a loved one have been abusing Adderall for an extended period of time, or you feel you might be addicted to the drug, you should seek help to detox from the medication as your first step toward recovery. Medical care during detox will provide you with the safety, support, and comfort you need as your body rids itself of Adderall. At My Time Recovery we will help you detox from the drug, and then decide how to proceed with the next stages of your treatment. Contact us today for help getting started.