Adderall is a prescription medication that is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a mental health condition in which people have difficulties focusing due to low levels of dopamine in the brain. Physicians know to only prescribe Adderall when it is necessary and carefully monitor clients as they go about their new prescription. However, many teens misuse their Adderall prescriptions by using them with the intent of getting high. When prescription misuse turns into abuse, it is only a matter of time before a teen develops a drug addiction.
Many teens and parents alike are uninformed about the dangers of prescription drugs like Adderall. Knowing the underlying causes and signs of Adderall abuse can help parents prevent this form of drug use in their teens.
The Effects of Adderall
Adderall is a stimulant drug that increases attention, alertness, and energy. Taken properly, Adderall can help teens with ADHD improve their focus and concentration. Adderall is also prescribed by doctors for people with narcolepsy, which is a medical condition that causes extreme fatigue, often during inopportune times. People with narcolepsy may have difficulties staying awake throughout the day, thus requiring a stimulant such as Adderall.
Prescription stimulants affect the brain and body by increasing the activity of important neurotransmitters that regulate communication between brain regions. More specifically, the neurotransmitters affected by Adderall are dopamine, which is involved in reinforcing rewarding behaviors, and norepinephrine, which affects blood vessels, heart rate, and breathing.
When abused over a long period, Adderall can cause hallucinations, delusions, and symptoms of psychosis. Adderall abuse also affects the part of the brain that controls mood, which could lead to feelings of anxiety and irritability.
Understanding Misuse and Abuse
When a doctor prescribes a drug such as Adderall, they instruct the individual to take a specific dosage at a specific quantity. For example, an individual may be instructed to take 20mgs once every morning. Similarly, others may be instructed to take a smaller or higher dose a few times throughout the day or as needed throughout the week.
The misuse of a prescription stimulant can happen when an individual tries to treat themselves or their symptoms but not how their doctor instructed them to do so. This includes:
- Taking medicine in dosage or quantity other than what was instructed
- Taking someone else’s prescription
Misuse can quickly develop into abuse when an individual takes their prescription with the intent to get high.
Is Adderall Addictive?
In a word, yes. Adderall that is taken in high doses, which is not recommended by a physician, can result in physical and psychological dependence. Similar to other drugs, it will eventually require more amounts to experience the desired effects of the drug. This refers to drug tolerance.
Teens may think that Adderall is safe to use because it’s prescribed by a doctor, but this could not be further from the truth. Any type of drug, legal or not, prescribed or not, can be harmful when misused.
What Are the Consequences of Adderall Abuse?
Long-term abuse of Adderall can lead to problems with school, relationships, and overall health. But there are potential consequences for stopping the use of this drug “cold turkey” as well, including:
- worsened anxiety and irritability
- inability to experience pleasure
- disrupted sleep
- lack of energy
Physical withdrawal from Adderall is not life-threatening but often contributes to repeated use, addiction, and relapse. The psychological effects of Adderall withdrawal can also be extremely difficult to manage. This means that teens who abuse Adderall will likely require medical treatment to successfully recover.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Adderall Abuse?
Parents will want to pay attention to the following red flags that their teen is abusing Adderall. Bear in mind, however, that one or two of these symptoms may not necessarily indicate drug use or abuse. If more of these symptoms are present for a significant amount of time, that’s when you’ll want to intervene.
Signs of Adderall abuse may include:
- Problems in school, such as missing homework assignments, being late for class, or missing classes altogether
- Lack of motivation or energy
- Sneaking around or being excessively secretive
- Stealing money or items around the house to sell
- Staying up all night
- Frequent angry outbursts
- Worsened depression and anxiety
- Shortness of breath
- Making decisions that show poor judgment
- Body jitters
- Sudden weight loss
- Experiencing a decline in overall physical health
Treatment for Stimulant Addiction
The most effective treatment available to treat stimulant addictions is behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or and contingency management. Behavioral therapies will help your teen understand the underlying causes of their stimulant misuse or abuse as well as teach them to effectively manage triggers and stress.
Many of us tend to look back on youth with a sense of nostalgia. However, it can be stressful to be a teenager in ways we may have forgotten. There’s pressure to fit in with peers, perform well in school and in sports, and hold the affection and respect of teachers, coaches, and other social groups. This can encourage teens to turn to stimulant drugs in search of a boost in motivation and stamina. Just because Adderall is a legal prescription does not make it safe. This medicine should only be used under the guidance of a doctor. Clearfork Academy has helped teenagers defeat all kinds of drug addictions, both prescription and illegal substances. We provide residential treatment programs, various forms of therapy, outdoor programs, and more. Learn about our treatments by calling (888) 966-8604 to speak with a licensed staff member today.