Prescription stimulants like Adderall are the first-line medication treatments for conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, teens and adults may misuse these drugs because they affect the body much like methamphetamine – amplifying alertness and energy. There is a high potential for abuse of Adderall, so it is essential to understand the nature of the medication.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a medication consisting of two drugs: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. The FDA classifies Adderall as a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II substances are known for their high potential for abuse, which may result in physical or psychological dependence.
Controlled medications require unique parameters when prescribed and dispensed. Examples of other Schedule II drugs are oxycodone, fentanyl, and Ritalin.
What is Adderall Used For?
Because it’s a powerful stimulant, Adderall is primarily prescribed for treating ADHD or narcolepsy. In children and adults with ADHD, Adderall improves alertness and focus and reduces impulsive behavior. Adderall also boosts daytime wakefulness in conditions like narcolepsy.
Adderall is the “study drug” by students and working professionals who use the drug illegally. Individuals who misuse Adderall seek something to help keep them awake longer, be more vibrant, and hone their focus. Students hoping to ace exams after all-nighters may abuse Adderall for more energy.
Older children and adolescents are susceptible to misusing Adderall because they can quickly obtain it through peers with prescriptions. However, a study from John Hopkins found that rates of misuse were higher among 18- to 25-year-olds than younger teens. Compared to younger teens, college-age young adults are more likely to misuse Adderall. They misuse the medication to remain alert, enhance academic performance, or achieve a high.
Adderall misuse is not isolated to young people. A published article in the American Journal of Psychiatry highlighted the growing trend among adults of misusing prescription stimulants. Among adults:
- Roughly 2.1% misused prescription stimulants like Adderall at least once.
- Approximately 0.2% had prescription stimulant use disorders.
- Adults with major depressive episodes and substance use disorders were likelier to abuse Adderall.
Despite the trend of misusing Adderall to boost performance, the drug is far from harmless.
What Does Adderall Do To the Body?
As a substance that affects the central nervous system (CNS), Adderall over-stimulates the brain in healthy people. The drug affects the brain similarly to neurotransmitters like epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, and dopamine ramp up the nervous system. This adrenaline boost puts the body into a fight-or-flight mode, heightening focus and increasing energy.
Adderall can also cause:
- High blood pressure
- Increase heart rate
- Reduced appetite
- Weight loss
In some cases, Adderall misuse may also result in seizures and cardiac death. When abused over time, the drug can cause an enlargement of the heart, called cardiomegaly. An enlarged heart can’t pump blood effectively, leading to heart failure.
People with existing mental health conditions like anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia may see their symptoms exacerbated with Adderall use. In short, abusing Adderall harms the brain, injures the heart, and taxes the nervous system.
Does Adderall Make You High?
When prescribed for therapeutic reasons, doctors typically use the lowest effective dose to keep side effects to a minimum. Therefore, Adderall prescribed to treat an illness doesn’t usually cause euphoria, also known as a “high.”
On the other hand, people who misuse Adderall may take the drug at higher doses. The pleasure center in the brain becomes activated at elevated amounts, which results in feelings of euphoria. After consistent misuse, however, increasingly higher doses are needed to obtain the same high, resulting in physical and psychological addiction.
Misuse of Adderall occurs when:
- An individual takes the drug in a way other than prescribed.
- A person who was not named Adderall takes the drug.
- Someone takes Adderall for the feeling of euphoria.
Individuals who abuse Adderall may take the drug in its usual form. Some individuals, however, may also choose to crush the tablets and:
- Snort the powder.
- Smoke the powdered form.
- Dissolve the powder and inject the solution into a vein.
These methods listed may lead to a more robust and immediate high. However, they can also lead to significant side effects, addiction, or an overdose.
Can a Person Overdose On Adderall?
According to the National Institutes of Health, overdosing on Adderall may result from misusing the drug. An Adderall overdose occurs when too much of the drug is taken, causing a life-threatening physical reaction, possibly resulting in death.
The signs and symptoms of an Adderall overdose are:
- Overactive reflexes
- Rapid breathing
- High fever
- Rapid breathing
- Aggressive behavior
The life-threatening signs of an Adderall overdose are:
- Heart attack
- Excessive low or high blood pressure
- Circulation failure
Obtaining immediate emergency medical assistance is critical when an Adderall overdose occurs due to the danger of a heart attack or seizure.
Adderall Withdrawal Timeline
Withdrawal from Adderall lasts approximately five days to 3 weeks. Withdrawal symptoms for Adderall may begin as early as a few hours after the last dose. However, some individuals see withdrawal symptoms only after several days.
The first few days of the withdrawal are the most severe, consisting of extreme fatigue, depression, and sleep disturbances. After the first few days, withdrawal symptoms become less intense.
How Long Does Adderall Stay in the Body?
Individuals attempting to quit often wonder how long Adderall stays in the system. The answer depends on the following factors:
- A person’s age.
- The length of time a person was on Adderall.
- The amount of Adderall taken.
- An individual’s weight.
- The physical health and mental status of the individual.
The intestinal tract processes Adderall, which gets filtered out of the body through urine. Along with urine, Adderall is detectable through blood, hair, and saliva.
- Urine samples will often show higher concentrations of Adderall compared to other methods. This is because Adderall is excreted through urine from 48 to 72 hours.
- Blood tests are most effective at detecting Adderall immediately after use, though the drug remains detectable in blood for up to 46 hours.
- Although testing hair strands is a unique drug testing method for Adderall. The drug can be detected for up to 3 months using hair samples.
Saliva can indicate Adderall drug use up to 20 to 50 hours after last use.
Like most stimulants, Adderall’s half-life is short. In an average-sized adult in good health, it takes 10 hours to rid the body of half the amount of Adderall.
Getting Help for Adderall Addiction
Adderall is a stimulant prescription medication that can be highly addictive. Addiction to Adderall can cause adverse effects on the mind and body. Treatment for Adderall addiction can help with finding long-term recovery and better quality of life.
Inland Detox in Riverside County, California, offers detox and residential treatment for prescription drug addiction, including Adderall. If you or a loved one are struggling with Adderall addiction, reach out to Inland Detox today. Our team can answer any questions you may have and give you a better understanding of our detox and inpatient programs.