Odds are most of your family and friends have tried Adderall and felt good while using it. America runs on Adderall, and it’s one of those epidemics that we don’t seem to address because its effects are not as severe as opioids. However, with most people starting to take Adderall after leaving high-school, we can’t wonder but ask ourselves: is diminishing the dangers of Adderall paving the path for a new generation of drug addicts? Let’s explore what life after Adderall looks like.
The Start of Adderall and Its Rise
Adderall is a prescription stimulant medication under the category of stimulants. It operates similar to other addictive drugs like meth and produces a surge in dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. The effects of Adderall are so strong and effective that people without ADHD use it to increase productivity on a stressful day at work or to power through studying sessions during college.
In 1990, over 600,000 children were taking stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin. By 2013, that number rose to 3.5 million. By the mid-2000s, the fastest growth in Adderall prescriptions was among adults. And by the year 2012, the 20-39 age bracket had reached a new milestone of 16 million prescriptions, alongside a spike in popularity — and the rise of black markets — at universities and even on primary education campuses.
However, the problem with Adderall is that it’s often prescribed for what seems like ADHD when in reality is something else. It turns out that anxiety can also cause irritability, restlessness, lack of social skills, and difficulty concentrating — symptoms that mimic those of ADHD. Even allergies and celiac disease can have similar ADHD symptoms.
How Adderall Use Affects the Brain
Stimulants can alter the way our brain operates in the long-run. Adderall increases the activity in three neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Over time, these surges can change the brain’s reward system and, eventually, our ability to experience pleasure without these substances.
Once someone develops a dependence on Adderall, they’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms any time they try to quit. Over time, these individuals might develop an addiction, and they can try to snort the crushed pills or even injecting them to experience a more potent high.
When someone becomes addicted to Adderall, they’re likely to experience difficulties sleeping and concentration, feelings of depression, lethargy, irritability, or fatigue. Adderall is an amphetamine that also raises the risk of aggression and suicidal thoughts. The more and longer Adderall is abused, the more pronounced the mood swings might be when it is no longer available in the body. Most of these brain changes will likely be repaired over time with sustained abstinence and proper care and support, fortunately.
Also, many individuals will try to combine Adderall with other drugs. People combine Adderall to enhance their effects. Some even try to take relaxing drugs or substances when Adderall is preventing them from sleeping. The most common drugs people combine with Adderall are cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana. Not only do these combinations make people more prone to abuse these other drugs in the future. But it also places a higher risk of alcohol poisoning or intoxication, which can have fatal consequences.
The Long-term Effects of Adderall
Thousands of people can become high-functioning addicts while using Adderall. It’s common for those in stressful working conditions to use Adderall as a way to navigate their stressful work lives. Executives, people in finance, and even those in the medical field might turn to Adderall to improve their performance and maintain their productivity level. However, those who abuse Adderall for an extended period of time are likely to experience:
- Sleep problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Mood swings
- Suicidal thoughts
- Panic attacks
- Heart disease
- Weight loss
Physical Side Effects of Long-term Adderall Abuse
Most people are familiar with the immediate side effects of Adderall. Raised body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure are all common. However, Adderall can also damage the heart and cardiovascular system with prolonged use, especially when abused. Using Adderall heavily for an extended period of time increases all the risk factors and potential long-term side effects, which may get progressively worse. It’s common for Adderall addicts to struggle with lifelong:
- Heart disease
- Abdominal pain
- Heart palpitations
- Trouble breathing
- Feeling jittery all the time
Finding Alternative for Adderall
Unlike other addictions, most Adderall addicts use the drug during weekdays to maintain their productivity levels. However, they’re chasing something that doesn’t exist. Thus, when they don’t use the drug by the weekend, they’re all struggling to stay awake while dealing with intense withdrawal symptoms.
If you or someone has a history of abuse or a substance use disorder, consider discussing healthier alternatives to Adderall. Ask your doctor about the different options, and only use Adderall as a last resource. Here are some natural alternatives to Adderall:
- Citicoline: some studies believe it can help heal brain damage and help people recover from strokes while also reducing ADHD symptoms.
- Methionine: an amino acid that helps build brain chemicals, one trial found that 75 percent of participants showed improved symptoms.
- Vitamin B6 and Magnesium: vitamin B6 is critical in producing serotonin, while magnesium helps balance brain chemicals; one study found that this combination helped treat ADHD symptoms.
- GABA: gamma-aminobutyric acid is a natural brain chemical that calms the nervous system; those with deficiencies could benefit from this supplement.
- Ginkgo Biloba: a herbal supplement that can improve children’s symptoms and improve blood flow in older adults.
- Pycnogenol: a powerful antioxidant, studies say this supplement may lower oxidative stress and inflammation that could help ease ADHD symptoms.
However, just because some of these supplements are widely available, it doesn’t mean you should go running to get them. It’s always best to discuss with your doctor before introducing new supplements to your diet. Furthermore, if you’re dealing with a substance use disorder, odds are just swapping your medication won’t heal your addictive behavior. It’s paramount to seek help from an addiction counselor to understand your condition better and get on the right path toward recovery.
Getting Help for Addiction
The bottom line is that Adderall can stay in your system for up to 72 hours after your last dose. Although, as we mentioned earlier, the length of time the drug stays in your system depends on many factors. Because of this, attempting to quit Adderall on your own can be dangerous.
Speaking with an addiction treatment specialist as soon as possible is the best way to start seeking help for addiction. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, our drug addiction recovery programs include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Most of the time, these sorts of addictions develop due to compulsive behaviors that must be treated at the source, with CBT being one of the most popular evidence-based treatments to treat addiction.
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment Programs: When patients are looking to seek addiction treatment while maintaining daily obligations like work, school, or caregiving, IOPs are a more flexible option that still gives people access to the help they need.
- Long-term Recovery Programs: With long-term recovery assistance, patients can have the ongoing support they need to maintain long-lasting sobriety. Recovery programs are crucial to relapse prevention.
If you or someone you love is addicted to Adderall or other drugs and alcohol, seek help immediately. Contact Lighthouse Recovery Institute today and speak with our addiction specialists to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized drug abuse treatment programs.
We believe in treating each patient in a case-by-case scenario because no two addiction stories are alike. Start walking towards your recovery, and we’ll be here supporting you and your family every step of the way. Please don’t wait another day to start addiction treatment, primarily when your life depends on it.