One of the most commonly abused narcotics is the drug called Adderall. According to a 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4% of college students aged 18-22 admitted to having abused Adderall. Adderall is the brand name for a drug that contains the following active ingredients — amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is typically prescribed in order to reduce hyperactive behavior in those with ADHD, and it also reduces the possibility of unexpectedly falling asleep in those with narcolepsy. Since it is typically prescribed by a doctor, many abuse Adderall thinking it safe. However, it is a strong stimulant that can have deadly side effects. Adderall abuse can lead to heart attack, stroke and liver failure. Typically, abuse of the drug is most common among college and high school students for the following reasons:
- Students often use the medication (without a doctor’s prescription) as a study aid.
- When swallowing, snorting, or smoking the drug, it can give users a recreational high.
Adderall is often taken in pill form, but it can be used in other ways. If someone were to inject Adderall, they would need a syringe, a spoon, a lighter or heating device, belt or rope, and something to crush the Adderall into an injectable form. A spoon is typically recognized by the heating marks. The belt or rope is tied around a limb in order to make it easier to find a vein.
Snorting Adderall is common among those who are looking to take the drug and feel the effects immediately. Someone who snorts Adderall will use something to crush the pills. This is due to Adderall not coming in powder form. In order to snort crushed Adderall, straws, rolled-up bills, and hollowed out pens are used. In order to convert Adderall into snortable lines, a user will have to use something with a sharp edge, like a razer blade or a credit card. These credit cards can typically be spotted by seeing residue on the edge.
According to a New York Times interview with clinical neuropsychologist Dr. DeAnsin Parker, “Stimulants will help anyone focus better. And a lot of young people like or value that feeling, especially those who are driven and have ambitions. We have to realize that these are potential addicts — drug addicts don’t look like they used to.” In fact, according to most studies, full-time college students are twice as likely to use and abuse Adderall compared to their peers who are not in college. These same users are more likely to experiment with other drugs. While many receive Adderall from a doctor, more than half of the young people in a survey said they received Adderall from a friend. Per the Controlled Substance Act, Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance. This means the drug runs a high risk of dependence.
Adderall prescriptions have increased by almost fivefold from 2002 to 2012. This would account for why many users found it easier for people to get Adderall from a friend or family member. Because of this, it’s rare that Adderall use carries the same stigma that other drugs carry. However, it’s important to note that not everyone who abuses Adderall has an addiction. Although it is a slippery slope, taking an Adderall as prescribed by a doctor is not the same as needing the drug to function. It’s important to note that not everyone who abuses Adderall has an addiction.
Reading the Signs
Being able to read the signs of addiction can be difficult as symptoms vary from person to person. There are behavioral signs of Adderall abuse, including how a person pays for the drug. Funding the habit will often come from sources like wages from work, money from their checking or savings account, and cash advances through credit cards. Sometimes, someone may liquidate their savings or 401K in order to purchase Adderall. When their addiction intensifies, you may notice a difference in appearance. For instance, they may become more disheveled and show a noticeable lack of self-care.
If you notice any of the these signs in those taking Adderall, it might be an indication that they are abusing the drug.
Warning Signs of Abuse:
- Dry mouth
- Decreased appetite
- Hyperactive behavior
- Hyperactive behavior
- Irritable thoughts and actions
- Excess sleeping
- Stunted growth
- Weight loss
- Cardiac issues
- Irregular heartbeat
- Sexual dysfunction
Additionally, Adderall reduces the perceived effects of alcohol, thus leading to the potential of increased drinking and a higher risk of alcohol poisoning.
You may also notice a distinct change in their social life. For instance, it’s possible they may become more secretive and avoid social interactions. As with many struggling with substance abuse issues, Adderall abusers will often stop talking to family and friends. It’s possible they may also avoid all typical social circles. If they are social, it will likely be with those who are going through the same struggles.
Risks of Using Adderall
There are many risks associated with taking Adderall. Snorting is very dangerous because it can cause serious damage to the nasal and sinus cavities, as well as irregular heartbeat. Snorting also carries with it a much higher risk of overdose. Injecting Adderall also increases the risk of a fatal overdose.
Adderall can also cause users to experience changes in the brain’s neurocircuitry. These types of changes can often lead to changes in behavior and depression. Over time, it’s possible for users to become suicidal.
Additionally, Adderall usage among athletes has caused some to die due to increased blood pressure. Many athletes have died of heat stroke and cardiac arrest while using the drug. In fact, as of 1968, Adderall (and all amphetamines) have been banned by the International Olympic Committee due to these risks.
Approaching Your Loved One
Sometimes, those struggling with drug addiction believe their habits are keeping them safe or making them more energetic and effective. They may even suggest they are in complete control of their habits as things begin to fall apart around them. Those addicted to Adderall are often battling insomnia and extreme moods.
It can be difficult to break through this system of denial, but it is important to get help. If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to approach your loved one with patience and understanding. This is the best way to approach those struggling with any addiction. Express your support for their health and sobriety and remind them of the happiness they felt before their addiction. And, always remember to listen.
If they accept your concerns and thoughts, offer to help them enroll in programs that will help them work their way back towards sobriety. Let them know you’ll be supportive during their recovery, as well as through any potential relapses. There can be setbacks on the road to recovery, so it’s important they know you’ll be supportive along the way.
When you or your loved one reaches the point where they know they need additional support, you may want to seek the services of a treatment center. Treatment centers not only help you get off your substance of addiction, but they also teach you the skills you’ll need to continue your sobriety throughout life. Treatment centers typically offer two types of treatment:
- Outpatient treatment allows you receive treatment while still staying at home.
- Inpatient treatment requires you stay at the facility. While this may sound difficult, you will be in a completely sober environment; a risk you still run while staying at home.
Outpatient treatment allows you to receive treatment while staying at home. Additionally, some choose to join 12 step groups like Narcotics Anonymous. Many people take advantage of both types of treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often a very powerful tool for those suffering from Adderall addiction. Those taking advantage of CBT are taught how to recognize situations that may trigger the temptation to use Adderall and how to avoid or cope with the stresses of day to day life. Research has shown that CBT is very helpful for those recovering from their addiction to drugs such as amphetamines (and Adderall).
Inpatient rehab works with users who have a medium to severe Adderall addiction. Oftentimes, Adderall rehabilitation centers will help abusers reduce their dosage to minimize the pain of withdrawal. One-on-one counseling is typically one of the main aspects of inpatient treatment programs. With these sessions, patients have the opportunity for those suffering with addiction to work on any specific issues they may be having. For instance, long term Adderall use can trigger or deepen mental wellness issues like depression and/or anxiety. Better inpatient rehabs treat mental wellness issues, as well as the issues with addiction. These institutions typically have psychiatrists on staff who can offer counseling and prescribe medications for any mental wellness issues.
There are additional treatments you can receive. Addiction to Adderall may require a type of behavioral therapy known as the Matrix Model. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this approach has been proven to be effective for treating stimulant addiction. This type of treatment relies on a close relationship between patient and therapist. Treatment includes:
- Drug education
- Relapse prevention training
- Family/group/individual therapy sessions
- Urine testing
- Participation in self-help groups
Tips for Sobriety
Lastly, here are some other tips that have helped former Adderall abusers stay sober and drug free:
- Get Fit: Day to day exercise and enjoying a healthy diet are a huge part of increasing your day to day productivity. While some find they are not able to focus during withdrawal, staying fit will help you both stay alert and remain focused.
- Recognizing Your Triggers: Anyone struggling with an addiction will find that there are certain moments in your day to day life that trigger their desire for drugs and/or alcohol. Whether it’s stress or social situations, it’s important to know what affects someone’s cravings. Being comfortable and open about these triggers is important to maintaining sobriety.
- Give Yourself Some Time Off: If you are using Adderall medicinally, you may find that it’s helpful to take some time away. Whenever you find yourself getting stressed, take some time off in order to better your chances of staying in control of your usage.
Withdrawal Among Adderall Users
The first stages of withdrawal can be very difficult for anyone trying to get clean of drugs. For Adderall abusers, they might feel like they can’t function normally. This type of withdrawal is simply the body trying to function without the use of this stimulant. While there are rarely any physical dangers associated with withdrawal, it is possible for someone to become suicidal during this period.
Writer and former Adderall addict Kate Miller explains how withdrawal from Adderall made her feel. According to her 2013 quote in the New York Times, she felt sluggish and found it hard to concentrate. She says, “Without the drug I felt stupid, unable to focus or follow a thought through to completion. I was shy, and unwilling to initiate conversation. The witty, articulate woman I once was seemed to no longer exist. I felt dumb, out of it. I spoke slowly because it took immense effort to gather and express coherent thoughts.”
Like any substance addiction, recovery will take time and will be accompanied by withdrawals and discouraging moments. However, having a strong support system from family, friends, groups or healthcare professionals will help you along the way to recovery.
Long term users of Adderall can often run the risk of becoming physically dependent. Once a user builds up a tolerance, they often require larger and larger doses to feel the effects. Over time, those same Adderall users will feel it is no longer helping them feel any of Adderall’s intended effects. This makes it even more difficult for users to stop using.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Adderall contact the staff at Blu By the Sea in Destin, Florida. We are here to provide the best treatment and care to help you or your loved one back to the road to recovery.