Finals are coming up, youíve got a huge project due, or you need to shine at work. Youíre exhausted but thereís no time to rest, so you pop an Adderall to keep you sharp. Itís no big deal, after all, itís a legal prescription drugÖ
Youíre not alone. Studies show that over 16 million adults in the United States are taking prescription stimulants. An estimated 5 million are taking the drug illegally, without a prescription, in an attempt to improve concentration and increase their mental stamina.
Unfortunately, this drug, long known as the ďstudy buddyĒ or the ďget-ahead drug,Ē isnít as innocent as it might seem. Adderall side effects are serious and can have a long-term impact on your physical and mental health. Letís take a look at how this drug impacts the body and the brain, and review some of the telltale signs of Adderall abuse.
Adderall Side Effects
Adderall has both positive and negative side effects, which is why so many people take it whether theyíve been prescribed it or not. On the positive side, the drug can improve concentration, elevate your mood, make you more alert, and less tired. The drug will often make you feel like you can think more clearly and help to minimize hyperactivity.
On the flip side, however, you may also experience negative effects including:
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Numb fingers and toes
- Back pain
- Dry mouth
- Peeling skin
- Blurred vision
- Hair loss
- Lack of appetite/weight loss
- Stomach ache
- Flu-like symptoms
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling nervous or jittery
- Mood swings
- Reduced sex drive
When taken exactly as prescribed, these effects are usually minimal. Youíre far more likely to run into problems when taking Adderall without a prescription or taking it more frequently or in larger doses than recommended.
Potential Effects of Long-Term Misuse
Abusing or misusing Adderall can cause serious long-term physical and psychological effects. Letís take a look at some of the most common issues.
Adderallís Effect on the Brain
When Adderall is prescribed for ADHD, it works by increasing neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain. Since those with ADHD have lower levels of these important brain chemicals, the drug helps to balance them out.
However, when you donít have ADHD, Adderall use can cause the brain to become overstimulated. This can lead to psychological issues including:
- Hearing voices
This problem is growing more common. A recent study found that adolescents and teens who have been prescribed stimulants like Adderall to treat ADHD are twice as likely as others to develop psychosis.
Development of Personality Disorders
Mood swings are a common side effect of Adderall use. When abused for a long time, however, these swings can become severe and begin to impact a personís overall personality. Increased hostility is common, and extreme mood swings can begin to present themselves as a bipolar disorder.
Misuse of stimulants like Adderall can lead to schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Long-Term Physical Effects
Beyond the short-term physical effects, long-term Adderall use can also negatively impact the body. When prescribed to children, it can cause stunted growth. Cardiac issues are common, including irregular heartbeat, Cardiomyopathy, and Tachycardia.
Long-term users of Adderall are also at increased risk of necrotizing vasculitis, high blood pressure, seizures, stroke, or heart attack. In some cases, sudden death may occur.
The longer you use Adderall, the more likely you are to build up a tolerance. Once your body gets used to it, youíll need higher doses to achieve the same effects. Keep increasing your use, and youíll develop a dependency.
Once youíre dependent on a drug, stopping its use will often result in withdrawal symptoms. These can include severe insomnia, fatigue, irritability, disorientation, and panic attacks. Urinary tract infections and stomach pain are also common withdrawal symptoms.
When attempting to recover from Adderall addiction, professional help is often necessary. Inpatient residential rehab is usually recommended for moderate to severe addiction.
How to Spot Adderall Abuse
Most people who use Adderall without a prescription will go out of their way to keep it a secret. If you know what to look for, however, itís not hard to spot the signs of Adderall abuse.
Exhaustion and weight loss are common among Adderall users. Youíll also want to keep an eye out for changes in personality including aggressiveness, risk-taking, and sudden outbursts. People on Adderall often talk fast, lose their train of thought, and become paranoid.
When Adderall addiction takes hold, itís not uncommon to see a decline in personal hygiene. The addict is also likely to begin having problems at work or school and may run into relationship and financial issues.
If you notice your loved one frequently taking pills or sneaking around, itís also a good sign that something isnít right.
Staging an Intervention
When a loved one is in trouble with drugs, theyíll often deny it. The habit may be so ingrained that they canít see the problem, or they may feel ashamed. Arranging a professional intervention is often the best solution.
Since intervention is about more than just gathering family and friends in a room, itís always a good idea to learn more before you get started. Research the process and make sure that youíre comfortable with it, then contact an intervention specialist to help walk you through it.
Let Us Help You!
If you or someone you love is suffering from Adderall side effects, thereís a good chance youíll need professional help to kick the habit. We can help!
Our addiction specialists are standing by. Donít wait for things to get worse. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.