Adderall Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

adderrall addiction treatment

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription stimulant medication made out of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. 

Doctors prescribe adderall to individuals struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy. Adderall helps those struggling with ADHD focus and stay attentive. For individuals struggling with narcolepsy, adderall helps them stay conscious and alert. 

What are Stimulants?

Stimulants, also known as “uppers,” are drugs that increase alertness and energy in people that take them. Stimulants increase activity in the central nervous system and body. Prescription stimulants, such as adderall, come in the form of tablets or capsules. 

Who is Prescribed Adderall?

Doctors can prescribe adderall to both adults and children. Despite being able to be prescribed to both adults and children, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes adderall as a schedule II controlled stimulant substance. A schedule II substance is a drug that has a high potential to lead to drug dependency.  

How Does Someone Become Dependent on Adderall?

Adderall often leads to drug dependency because of the two brain receptors and one adrenal gland receptor that it binds to. The two brain receptors that adderall binds with are norepinephrine and dopamine. The one adrenal gland receptor that adderall binds with is epinephrine. 

Norepinephrine helps boost your alertness, focus, and cognitive functions. Dopamine increases your rewarding moods of happiness and satisfaction, and epinephrine increases your heart rate, blood pressure, muscle strength, and sugar metabolism. All in all, these three receptors help keep us happy. Therefore, any medication that binds with these receptors can easily lead people to suffer from addiction.

In recent years, doctors have been over-prescribing adderall to patients. In fact, adderall sales increased by more than 3,000 percent between the years of 2002 – 2006 alone. By 2010, 18 million people were using adderall prescriptions, and the use of adderall prescriptions has only increased since then. In fact, in the past couple years, it has been reported that there are over 5 million Americans using prescription stimulants, such as adderall, illegally. 

Taking more adderall than what your doctor prescribes you, or taking adderall when you are not suffering from intense ADHD or narcolepsy, is what causes many individuals to need adderall addiction treatment. 

What is an Adderall Addiction?

Adderall addiction is when there is risky use of prescription adderall medication that leads to such a high level of adderall dependency that people are willing to do anything to continue taking it. Individuals suffering from adderall addiction become so dependent on adderall that they even suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms when they discontinue their use of the medication. 

Many people who take adderall in a risky manner are high school and college students. They want to stay energetic and alert at all times so that they can improve on their academic performance.

Some people suffering from adderall addiction become so desperate to receive the high that adderall gives them that they will even crush up the adderall and snort, or inject it into their bodies. Those suffering from adderall addiction often snort or inject adderall so that its ‘high” effect can hit their bodies quicker.

Signs of Adderall Addiction

There are many different signs that someone’s taking adderall in an excessive manner. Some of these signs are more lifestyle-oriented while others are more behavioral or physical. 

Lifestyle-Oriented Signs of Adderall Addiction

One lifestyle-oriented sign of adderall addiction is when people become so obsessed with performing well at school or work that they seem to stop taking care of themselves. This is a possible sign of adderall addiction because of the fact that many people that suffer from adderall addiction started taking the drug to help improve their level of focus and energy.

Another lifestyle-oriented sign that someone is taking adderall in an excessive manner is if that person loses interest in things that he or she was once passionate about. Many people suffering from adderall addiction lose interest in their old passions because their only focus becomes obtaining more adderall. 

Behavioral Signs of Adderall Addiction

Sudden mood changes can be a behavioral sign of adderall addiction. This is due to the fact that adderall, by nature, is a stimulant that increases people’s positive moods. Because adderall has a positive effect on the moods of those that take it, using adderall in a risky manner can cause people to experience sudden severe lows. This lead to depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. 

Over time, these mental and emotional lows cause those suffering from adderall addiction the need to take more adderall to improve their mood. This, in turn, further fuels the addiction. 

Sudden Bouts of Reckless Energy

Another behavioral change that may occur in someone suffering from adderall addiction is having dangerously sudden bouts of energy. These dangerously sudden boosts of energy lead those suffering from adderall addiction to suddenly become more talkative and physical. Sometimes these sudden boosts of energy can even lead to bouts of aggressive behavior. 

Energy Crashes

Using adderall in a risky way can also cause people to have sudden crashes of energy whenever the adderall wears off. These sudden crashes of energy often causes the person suffering from adderall addiction to also suffer from insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes people to have trouble falling and staying asleep. 

Because people who suffer from insomnia have trouble falling and staying asleep whenever they desire to, their bodies often later crash and have sudden bouts of sleep during the daytime whenever they do not desire to sleep. 

Physical Signs of Adderall Addiction

  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • High blood pressure
  • Vision problems
  • Frequent headaches
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Change in sex drive
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hives or rash
  • Paranoia
  • Hoarse Throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Numbness of arms and/or legs

Effects Adderall Has on the Mind and Body

Many of the signs of adderall addiction occur because those suffering from adderall addiction take an excessive amount of adderall. As a result, the norepinephrine, dopamine, and epinephrine receptors in your body that adderall binds with become so used to the extreme levels of adderall that they are receiving. 

Because of this, it takes more and more adderall to make your brain think that it is receiving the right amount of norepinephrine, dopamine, and epinephrine levels. Thus, the body of someone struggling with adderall addiction will experience severe withdrawal symptoms when it thinks that its norepinephrine, dopamine, and epinephrine levels are low. 

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

The body of someone suffering from an adderall withdrawal thinks that it is not receiving enough norepinephrine, dopamine, and epinephrine. Because these are the three bodily chemicals that keep us feeling alert, happy, and strong, one of the most common withdrawal symptoms of adderall addiction is depression. The intense level of depression that someone suffering from an adderall withdrawal receives can make someone feel empty, hopeless, and anxious to the point of suicide. 

Adderall cravings is also a common withdrawal symptom of adderall addiction.

Adderall Overdose

Whenever an individual is suffering from chronic adderall addiction, they may eventually suffer from an overdose. 

Symptoms of an Adderall Overdose

  • Heart and panic attacks
  • Severe deliria and/or hallucinations
  • Uncontrollable Tremors
  • Hyperventilation
  • Vertigo
  • Loss of Consciousness
  • Coma
  • Cardiac rhythm abnormalities
  • Severe Gastrointestinal Issues

Adderall Addiction Diagnosis

To diagnose you with an adderall addiction, your doctor will first ask you numerous questions about your medical history and your history with adderall. Therefore, be ready to be honest about how much adderall you take and how often you take it. 

When figuring out whether to diagnose you with an adderall addiction or not, your doctor will also ask you about any other medications that you take. Furthermore, your doctor will inquire about any withdrawal symptoms that you experience when your adderall wears off. 

Your doctor should also perform a physical examination on you when deciding whether or not to diagnose you with an adderall addiction. This physical examination should include tests that measure your heart rate and blood pressure, as these are things that are often affected by risky use of adderall. 

To make an official adderall addiction diagnosis, your doctor should refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 

Adderall Addiction Treatment

To treat your adderall addiction, your doctor will likely suggest a Medication – Assisted Treatment (MAT) program and psychotherapy. Your doctor will also likely suggest that you attend a detox center

Inpatient rehab is one of the best adderall addiction treatment options when it comes to those suffering from a long history of adderall addiction. Through inpatient rehab, you can stay in a rehab center 24/7 and learn coping techniques that will help you function successfully in the real world. 

Sana Lake Recovery Center

Here at Sana Lake Recovery Center, we offer a 24-hour medically monitored and staffed detox center along with a variety of addiction treatment plans ranging from holistic addiction treatment to partial hospitalization, to intensive outpatient care, to outpatient care, and more. 

Most importantly, the Sana Lake Recovery Center is individually based and member-centric. This means that at our rehab facility, we will help you come up with your own treatment program that is specific to your needs and wants. 

To learn more about Sana Lake Recovery Center, contact us here.

Article Reviewed by David Sherman, MD

David Sherman, MDDavid Sherman, MD is a Fellow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (FASAM) and board certified in Addiction Medicine with the American Board of Preventive Medicine. He is a native Missourian and graduated medical school at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. Dr. Sherman completed a two-year fellowship in Addiction Medicine at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He leads a highly trained staff of master level certified addiction professionals. Men and women from all over Missouri and the United States come to Sana Lake Recovery Center to get the care they need and deserve.