This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever, a world-leading addictions specialist.
When drug abuse is mentioned, you may assume some illicit drugs are sold clandestinely, but that may not always be the case. As illegal drugs become hard to access, prescription drugs are taking over to give the same effects. In addition, prescription drugs are gaining popularity as a convenient alternative to illicit drugs because people can access them over the counter without law enforcement on their heels.
One such prescription drug being used for the wrong purposes is Adderall. Adderall has a stimulant effect, and it is prominently abused, especially in the UK. Though it is a medical drug only supposed to be taken under a doctor’s prescription, it is commonly abused with a high risk of addiction.
What is Adderall?
Adderall contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine that are categorised as stimulants. Doctors prescribe Adderall to people who have ADHD, which is a hyperactivity disorder. It is also used to treat chronic sleep disorders.
It is found in the following forms:
- Adderall XR extended-release capsule
- Adderall tablet
The forms mentioned above are found in the original form and generic form. Generic imitation of the original version has almost the same effects as the original ones, but it costs less.****
How does Adderall work?
In ADHD treatment, Adderall reduces impulsive behaviours by improving attention and focus in children. It is mainly used as the first line of treatment in ADHD. Also, it increases daytime alertness and wakefulness for narcoleptic people. It is important to note that Adderall should not be used by people who hold off sleep or treat tiredness and people who do not suffer from a sleep disorder.
As a stimulant, Adderall works by increasing dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels. The result is a euphoria effect, and the overstimulation is reduced to regular stimulation. As hyperactivity is reduced, an individual can be able to have increased attention and make sound decisions.
Can Adderall assist in the loss of weight?
Loss of appetite and increased metabolism are familiar with Adderall usage. With reduced appetite, you may lose weight since we add weight due to overeating. However, as much as you may lose weight, Adderall usage cannot sustain the results for a long time. As soon as you stop using Adderall, you will start to gain weight again. In addition, using Adderall to lose weight may lead to other complications associated with adverse side effects of Adderall.
Why is Adderall a controlled drug?
The fact that a doctor prescribes a drug does not mean that it is entirely safe. It is only safe when taken within the guidelines of the prescription. When taken outside the prescribed dosage, Adderall has a higher risk for abuse and addiction. In the United Kingdom, Adderall is classified as a class-B controlled substance, meaning you cannot legally sell or possess it unless prescribed medically. The penalties are stringent to those who contravene the Act.
Abuse generally means the use of a drug outside a medical prescription. Being a stimulant, Adderall has effects similar to those of meth. Adderall leads to increased levels of norepinephrine and dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for feel-good development; it creates a euphoric state in an individual. Therefore, Adderall is highly addictive, and people may use it for recreational activities to pursue the feel-good effect.
On the same note, increased norepinephrine increases the ability of the brain to pay attention and makes you energetic. The rewarding effects of dopamine and norepinephrine make people seek more Adderall.
Adderall is one of the most used drugs in the UK. As an available prescription over-the-counter, it is a convenient stimulant that many people can assess. In addition, people usually take Adderall to help them with attentiveness during their studies to boost their academic performance. Widely used in parties, Adderall is given street names such as uppers and speeds.
In England and Wales, 10% of those aged between 16-60 years have abused Adderall at some time in their life.
Is Adderall addictive?
When used for medication and taken as per prescription guidelines, Adderall has little risk of addiction. However, when taken to enhance attention and performance and recreationally for euphoric effect, the chances of addiction increase. Just like other stimulants, excess use of Adderall substances can lead to addiction.
Generally, Adderall is consumed by people to make them energetic, happy, alert, attentive, and awake. Users of Adderall may experience an increased feeling of euphoria and creativity. Commonly used by college students, Adderall makes people go for long periods without sleep. Due to its euphoric effects, Adderall is popularly used at parties.
As academic pressure mounts, some students may turn to use Adderall to assist them to focus and study for long hours. There are those students who may even use Adderall for the entire period in school. After completing their studies, students move to the outside world to look for work opportunities and businesses. At times, they can’t cope with the pressure that comes with new jobs or companies. Having experienced the feel-good effects of Adderall, they are likely to continue using Adderall to cope up with work or business pressures which can lead to addiction.
Further, when used in high amounts and doses over a long period, Adderall addiction is possible. People who occasionally use Adderall for recreation and at parties risk becoming addictive over time. Due to its effectiveness in improving concentration, some people may find themselves frequently using Adderall. With time, Adderall users grow tolerance and are forced to take more substance than before to experience similar effects. As time goes by, the users become dependent on Adderall and cannot operate effectively without using the drug. Ultimately, they may end being addicted to Adderall.
What are the common signs of Adderall addiction?
As the body gets used to Adderall, you may start to experience cravings every time you stop using it. Without Adderall in the system, you may feel exhausted and have decreased energy levels. The following are some common signs of Adderall addiction:
- Taking Adderall in larger doses than the previous ones to feel the same effects
- Being unable to be alert without the drug
- Having withdrawal symptoms
- Not being able to be productive without Adderall
- You are unable to stop using Adderall however much you try to
- Neglecting other activities in favour of taking Adderall
Can you get addicted to Adderall through prescription?
Taking too much Adderall over an extended period can cause dependence. Therefore, patients using Adderall medication should not take more dosage or use Adderall longer than a doctor’s instruction. Although Adderall is quite helpful as a medication, excessive use can lead to addiction.
Occasionally, the doctor may recommend taking a break from the medication to determine whether you still need it or should be stopped during treatment. You are advised to notify your doctor if your condition does not improve during medication.
Withdrawal symptoms from Adderall are common when you suddenly stop taking the medication. Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:
- Sleep problems
- Mood changes
- Severe tiredness
- Overwhelming anxiety
- Intense cravings
- Body aches
- Low energy
To deal with withdrawal problems, the doctor may start reducing your dosage gradually. The risk of withdrawal is higher if Adderall medication was prescribed in high doses and taken for a more extended period. If you experience withdrawal symptoms, it’s essential to notify your doctor immediately.
What are the side effects of Adderall abuse?
Generally, prolonged use of Adderall may cause some side effects on people. The side effects can show up when Adderall is used outside the doctor’s prescription. The side effects can range from mild to severe and may include the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth and unpleasant taste in the mouth
- High blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Sleeping problem
- Blurred vision
- Nausea and dizziness
- Abdominal pain
- Constipation and
- diarrhoeaAggression and hostility
- Mood swings
- Heightened social anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Excessive fatigue
- Slurred speech
If you find yourself or a loved one with the above side effects from Adderall abuse and need help, please call 0203 955 7700, and an experienced advisor is available to speak to and provide support.
Long-term effects of Adderall abuse?
When Adderall is abused for a long time, it may change the brain, for instance, by decreasing the amount of dopamine. Further, long-term use of Adderall in high doses can lead to dependence and addiction. Some serious long term side effects include:
- Brain damage
- Kidney damage
- Cardiac arrest
Who is most likely to abuse Adderall?
Anybody, regardless of gender or age, can abuse Adderall. However, young people, especially college students, are more likely to abuse Adderall. With the increasing pressure to perform in academics, college students may resort to Adderall use.
Adderall helps an individual to increase the ability to stay focused and awake for a more extended period. Similarly, young people find Adderall effects favourable for their outings and parties as they help them remain active and energetic for long. In addition, the ability to stay awake enables young people to dance and have the best of their time all night long.
Facing stress from work, some professionals may resort to using Adderall. The business and work environment can be complex and stressful as people try to achieve targets to relieve pressure; hence, people may abuse Adderall to boost their energy and remain alert for prolonged periods.
Adderall’s ability to counter fatigue and enhance performance attracts athletes to use it. However, the use of Adderall in athletics is illegal and has been banned by the governing bodies in charge of athletics and other sports.
People with eating disorders are likely to abuse Adderall. Reduced appetite is a common effect of Adderall use, which attracts people with eating disorders. The use of Adderall to relieve eating disorders may lead to addiction.
What are some common drugs combined with Adderall?
Adderall, as a stimulant, has a euphoric feeling and the ability to increase performance. When used for recreation, some users may mix Adderall with other drugs to enhance its effects. Further, to counter the sleeplessness effect caused by Adderall, some users may use other drugs to experience a calming effect. Drugs that are commonly abused together with Adderall include cocaine and cannabis.
When Adderall is combined with alcohol, the risk of alcohol poisoning is high. The energy and alertness caused by Adderall can inhibit the effects of alcohol; hence you may end up drinking excessive drinking leading to alcohol poisoning. Combining Adderall with other drugs is a bad idea that can lead to harmful and dangerous effects.
Treatment for Adderall addiction
In a bid to stop Adderall addiction, you will have to contend with withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, craving for the substance, mood swings, fatigue, and sleeping problems.
- Adderall detoxification.
Detoxification is the first stage of treating Adderall addiction under the supervision of a professional doctor. The detox process is done by gradually reducing the amount of Adderall intake. Each patient is treated uniquely depending on their medical and drug abuse history. Adderall detoxification can be done in a rehab or a separate facility, such as a hospitalisation program.
During the detox, patients suffer withdrawal symptoms that can be hard to manage and, in some cases, fatal. Therefore, it is crucial to start withdrawal only after consulting with doctor or addiction experts.
- Psychotherapy & Rehabilitation
Detox alone may not be effective in the long run. Detox should be done together with therapy to prevent relapse on the patient. Therapies assist people in changing the behaviours that can trigger them to abuse Adderall.
Are you struggling with Adderall use, or have a loved one who has an Adderall addiction problem? So you can get help, please call 0203 955 7700, and an experienced advisor is available to speak to and provide support.
Adderall is a class-B substance in the UK, meaning that it can be abused, leading to addiction when used outside medical prescription. Therefore, it is illegal to sell or buy Adderall outside a medical prescription. Due to its ability to keep people awake or alert and to increase performance, Adderall is commonly abused. College students mainly use Adderall to help them to stay alert and focus on their studies. Adderall is also widely used at parties. Long-term usage of Adderall in high doses can lead to an addiction.
Further, some people combine Adderall with other drugs such as cannabis, alcohol, and cocaine. The result of mixing Adderall with other drugs can cause dangerous effects. Once you are dependent on Adderall, you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you attempt to stop. In addition, Adderall abuse can cause serious side effects. If addicted to Adderall, you can seek treatment, which involves detoxification and psychotherapy.
- The 9 Most Abused Prescription Drugs in the UK
- Workers Seeking Productivity in a Pill Are Abusing A.D.H.D. Drugs (Published 2015)
- Adderall: Uses, Abuses & Side Effects
- drug monograph Adderall Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing
- 4 Health Issues Linked to Long Term Abuse of Adderall
- Adderall Misuse Rising Among Young Adults – 2016 – News Releases – News
Adderall is categorised as a stimulant. It is prescribed to people who have ADHD, hyperactivity disorder, and also chronic sleep disorder. However, long-term usage of Adderall in high doses can lead to an addiction.