Quitting Adderall isn’t necessarily an easy undertaking, but considering the negative effects it can have on every part of your life, it’s well worth it.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription drug, which we talk more about below. There’s an unfortunate misconception about prescription drugs: they’re somehow safer than illicit drugs. Prescription medication like Adderall can be just as addictive and dangerous as illicit drugs. Substance use disorders often form even when people use medications as their health care provider instructs them to.
How Adderall Works
Adderall is a brand-name medicine to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The central nervous system stimulant can improve symptoms of ADHD and increase focus, cognitive function, and concentration. The medicine can have similar effects in people without ADHD.
- The generic ingredients in this brand-name drug are a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
- Along with ADHD treatment, Adderall is for narcolepsy less often, which is a condition causing daytime sleepiness.
- When you use the stimulant, it increases the effects of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters.
- Symptoms of ADHD that Adderall may help with include hyperactivity, short attention span, and impulsive behavior.
- For children or adults with ADHD, Adderall is best when used with behavioral therapy to improve symptoms.
- The medication comes in a time-release capsule or as a tablet. The time-release version is Adderall XR.
- When they prescribe the drug, doctors typically start with the lowest possible dose to determine if you have any major side effects. Then gradually, as needed, the dose might go up.
- In children between the ages of 2 and 17, ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder. The symptoms usually become apparent around the age of 7.
- When the medication is used as prescribed and instructed, it should help calm symptoms of ADHD and improve the ability to focus. When someone doesn’t have ADHD or uses the medicine outside of how it’s prescribed, it can produce excess dopamine levels. As a result of the high dopamine levels it creates, some people feel euphoric and experience high energy levels.
- The effects of Adderall can be similar to other stimulants like cocaine.
Adderall Side Effects
Any prescription medicine can have side effects, and Adderall is no exception. Short-term potential side effects of the stimulant can include:
- Sleep problems
- Dry mouth
- Hoarse voice
- Changes in vision
- Changes in speech patterns
Serious short-term adverse effects include:
- Shaking, tics, tremors, or seizures
- Irregular heartbeat
- Paranoia or hallucinations
- Alterations in thinking
- Worsening psychological symptoms or conditions such as bipolar disorder
- An allergic reaction
Stimulant medications and drugs can cause constriction of your blood vessels, which raises your blood pressure, affects blood flow, and increases your heart rate in a short period of time. Life-threatening effects, including stroke or a heart attack, can occur.
If someone has a pre-existing heart condition or related medical condition, taking Adderall can lead to sudden death. Signs of a cardiovascular problem include shortness of breath, problems breathing, chest pain, or fainting.
If you take Adderall with alcohol, it increases the risk of heart problems.
The drug increases the release of glucose in your system, which can cause digestive symptoms. These digestive symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or constipation. Weight loss is very common with ongoing Adderall use, primarily because it causes loss of appetite.
Due to the risks and Adderall side effects, health care providers are increasingly recommending Adderall alternatives for patients with ADHD. In many situations, trying natural alternatives for mental clarity and cognitive performance is safer than prescription supplements.
The potential for abuse with prescription stimulant drugs is a particularly significant problem among teens and college students. We also see high rates of Adderall abuse among young professionals, particularly when they’re in demanding career fields. Adderall and stimulants are often referred to as smart drugs on college campuses.
When someone takes Adderall, especially in larger doses, they might feel like they can stay awake studying or working for long hours. It can be a performance enhancer, increasing feelings of confidence and ability.
Even if you have a prescription, if you’re using Adderall to get high or using it in any way other than what’s prescribed, such as using a higher dose or taking it more often, it’s considered substance abuse.
Another example of Adderall abuse is combining it with other substances like alcohol to increase the effects of taking it outside of how you should. For example, some people will crush Adderall and snort it for more rapid, potent effects.
Quitting Adderall is challenging. Over time, you become addicted to the drug and also dependent. Addiction and dependence are two separate concepts that often occur together.
When you’re addicted to Adderall, you have cravings and a psychological need to continue taking it. This occurs because the stimulant triggers your brain’s reward cycle. Addiction affects your behavior, mood, and emotions.
Dependence means that your brain and body physically adjust to a substance’s presence. When you try to stop after you’re dependent, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.
Adderall withdrawal symptoms depend on how long you’ve used the drug, your underlying health, and the dose you typically use.
With long-term use of the drug, your brain becomes used to the increased dopamine and norepinephrine activity. Both brain chemicals play a key role in the regulation of your moods.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Mental Health Services Administration, when you go through withdrawal, your brain reacts to low levels of these neurotransmitters.
One of the defining characteristics of withdrawal is depression as a result. Particular symptoms that can occur during withdrawal include:
- Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness
- Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities
- Too much or too little sleep
- Eating too much or too little
- Guilt and regret
- Problems thinking or focusing
- Aches and pains
When you’re going through stimulant withdrawal, changes in your brain might make you more sensitive to stress, so you could feel very frustrated or edgy.
A treatment plan for quitting Adderall will first consider your use of the drug itself. For example, as part of an Adderall abuse recovery plan, you might work with a mental health professional on how you can go through the physical symptoms of withdrawal. You might take over-the-counter pain relievers or sleep aids to deal with some symptoms.
A mental health professional might prescribe antidepressants to help as you come off Adderall or, in some cases, anti-anxiety medicines.
You also have to get to the root of why you developed an Adderall abuse problem in the first place.
For example, maybe you turned to the drug to self-medicate symptoms of a mental health disorder. If so, as you’re quitting alcohol, you can begin to receive treatment for that psychiatric disorder. You can develop coping strategies that aren’t substance-based.
ADHD Treatment in San Diego
By dealing with underlying mental health issues and psychological effects, you will be in a better position to quit Adderall for the long term.
Please contact our clinical team today if you’d like to learn about mental health treatment in San Diego, attention deficit disorder, or other mental disorders. The Mental Health Center of San Diego can provide you with treatment options and details about a treatment program that could work for you or your loved one; just call (858) 258-9883.