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Long Term Effects of Adderall Use

September 11, 2019

It’s no secret that our society places great amounts of pressure to succeed in almost every aspect of life. We place a high value on academic, social, economic, and athletic achievements. Stimulants, such as Adderall, can induce long-lasting and seemingly invincible energy. Putting individuals at a higher risk for abuse, prescription stimulants are spreading quickly across the United States.


Amphetamines were first prescribed in the 1930s for the treatment of narcolepsy. Eventually, amphetamines would be prescribed, more loosely, for obesity, fatigue, and then for ADHD. Increasing energy, preventing sleepiness, and producing almost obsessive alertness, stimulants became the remedy. It’s no secret that obesity has been a common problem in North America. The desire for instant gratification produced the development of stimulant drugs. By decreasing appetite, stimulants have been proven to produce quick results but not without consequence. 


In the early 1990s, the diagnosis of ADHD skyrocketed. New studies flooded parents and doctors with the resources to accurately identify and diagnose this disorder. When amphetamines became the primary treatment for ADHD, stimulants were widely prescribed. As a result, they became the primary medicinal cure for young adolescents struggling to focus in school. The easy access to such stimulants, along with the rise of cocaine in the ’80s, led to the widespread explosion of stimulants.


What is Adderall?

Adderall is an amphetamine that is prescribed for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. In 2011, studies found that almost 50 million Adderall prescriptions were dispensed to treat these disorders. Adderall is available in two forms – immediate release and extended-release. Due to its addiction potential, it is not uncommon for individuals to abuse Adderall. 


As prescriptions for Adderall rise, so may the potential for nonmedical use, abuse, and dependency. Adderall is known for being considered the “smart drug” across college campuses and demanding occupations alike. It may be abused by students to combat the pressures of higher education.  Even business professionals who want to stay up late to finish a project sometimes abuse Adderall. 


Adderall is known for suppressing appetite and is commonly abused as a weight-loss drug. Other times it may be used in combination with wanting to stay out late to drink more alcohol or even while using other drugs to get “high.” When Adderall is mixed with other substances, the end result can be very dangerous. For instance, it can more easily result in a fatal overdose. 


Signs of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is a potent stimulant and this prescription medication can be hard to detect when abused. Consequently, many individuals abuse Adderall for many different reasons. These include increasing productivity, alertness, focus, and energy. Initially, individuals who abuse Adderall seem like motivated, productive, and successful individuals. 


Often times, individuals who abuse Adderall are young professionals or students. Individuals may assume the drug is safe because it is prescribed by a doctor. However, Adderall is a strong stimulant that can lead to dangerous and potentially fatal consequences. 


Signs of Adderall abuse may include:


  • Loss of appetite
  • Paranoia
  • Being overly talkative
  • Unusual excitability 
  • Financial struggles
  • Promiscuous behaviors
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Memory loss
  • Aggression
  • Little or no appetite
  • Exhaustion
  • Secretive behavior
  • Incomplete thoughts
  • Interpersonal relationship problems
  • A decline in personal hygiene
  • Disorientation
  • Mania
  • Excessive talking
  • Grandiose behavior
  • Impulsivity
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Isolation
  • Erratic sleeping patterns

Long Term Effects of Adderall Abuse on the Brain

Stimulants encourage concentration, focus, and overall energy. In addition, they decrease the need for sleep and suppress appetite. Adderall drastically increases the production of neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine. Over time, the influx of these chemicals has a major impact on the brain’s reward center and its ability to experience pleasure without the aid of amphetamine. The longer and more frequent Adderall is abused, the more ingrained these changes become. Tolerance and required dose will increase when Adderall is abused over a long period of time.


As Adderall leaves the bloodstream, withdrawal symptoms and cravings begin. This ultimately indicates a physical and emotional dependency on the drug. The method of use will determine the rate at which Adderall leaves the bloodstream. For example, injecting or snorting the drug will produce an immediate desired effect on the brain. This immediate effect increases the potential for addiction and ultimately overdose. Addiction is a disease that is specific to each individual. It is based on many components such as biological, environmental, and mental factors.


Individuals who abuse Adderall, over a long period of time, may experience a variety of side effects. For instance: trouble sleeping, concentrating, loss of appetite, irritability, depression, paranoia, and even hopelessness. 


“According to ABC News, abusing Adderall increases the risk of psychosis, aggression, and suicidal thoughts.“


Long term Adderall abuse alters the natural production of dopamine. By doing so, it causes mood swings, depression, and lack of pleasure without the substance.


Long Term Physical Effects of Adderall Abuse

When abused, Adderall can cause feelings of boosted energy, intense focus, lasting motivation, and pleasure. These feelings are similar to the effects of illicit stimulant abuse. As a result, Adderall abuse can lead to addictive feelings of euphoria. However, once the initial effects wear off, long term effects of Adderall abuse can create many health complications such as:


  • Insomnia
  • Inability to focus
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Aggression
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremors
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hyperactivity

Finding Help for Adderall Addiction

Adderall is an extremely potent stimulant, meaning it has a very high potential for abuse. Adderall will speed up brain functioning. It also increases the brain’s natural production of pleasuring neurotransmitters if abused for enough time and in large quantities. Someone who excessively consumes Adderall will most likely develop an emotional and physical dependence on the drug. As a result, Adderall withdrawal can be difficult and seemingly impossible. If you or a loved one is struggling with Adderall dependency, it is important that you seek professional help.


Truth Recovery Center offers effective drug and alcohol treatment for those who want to overcome their addiction. We consider addiction to be a three-part disease: physical, spiritual and mental. Our treatment programs provide the opportunity to leave a lifetime of addiction and relapse in the past. Above all, we help our clients move forward into long-term sobriety.


Our Partial Hospitalization Program or PHP provides a carefully structured environment, away from the stress and temptations of the outside world. Our highly trained staff closely monitors residents 24/7 to ensure safety and success. With a low staff-to-client ratio, our PHP program is designed to provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere for our clients to reconnect with their sober identities.