Many of the most problematic mind-altering substances were actually created to help; however, when individuals realized that taking higher-than-advised doses of these substances resulted in intoxication and euphoria, substance abuse spread like wildfire. In fact, prescription drug abuse gave rise to one of the worst addiction epidemics in human history. Among the many prescription drugs that continue to be abused today, Adderall has become a momentous problem due to the frequency with which it’s abused and used recreationally. Particularly among certain demographics, the misuse of Adderall has grown exponentially, making it important for us to be knowledgeable about Adderall, its dangers, and how Adderall addiction can be overcome.
What is Adderall?
Most of us have heard of the drug Adderall and are aware that there’s a lot of interest in the drug on the street. Over the past decade, rates of Adderall abuse have grown considerably, especially among teens and college-aged young adults. In terms of composition, Adderall consists of two main ingredients referred to as “salts”: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, both of which are extremely potent psychostimulants that also act on the body’s central nervous system. And while many of the pharmaceutical substances in widespread use today have existed for many years, Adderall is a relatively new drug that has only been available since 1996, making it approximately the same age as OxyContin. The first generic, or non-name brand, version of Adderall became available in 2002.
Although Adderall is a stimulant, it’s often prescribed to individuals who suffer from conditions that involve abnormally high energy levels including narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In people who suffer from these or similar conditions, the use of Adderall—as prescribed—over time results in an improvement in overall brain chemistry and functioning, but anyone who uses Adderall over a period of time without having a condition that is treated by psychostimulants will frequently begin to exhibit abnormal levels of dopamine production. People who take Adderall for reasons other than to treat a medical condition often laud the drug’s ability to act as a cognitive performance enhancement; according to users of the drug, it improves their mental clarity and functioning, memory recall and retention, inhibitory control, and allows them to acutely focus on a given task or topic.
Adderall and College Students
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, college students are twice as likely to take Adderall without a prescription as a performance enhance than individuals of the same age range who aren’t attending college. While the percentage of college students that use stimulants like Adderall for such purposes is, at turns, estimated between 5 and 35 percent from one campus to another, some researchers estimate that 30 percent of college students nationwide are using Adderall non-medically; what’s more, the percentage of those who are using Adderall as a study enhancer is higher among upperclassmen than underclassmen. When there’s an immense pressure to succeed, some may feel that Adderall can give them an edge or help them to complete a heavy course load. Surveys show most students believe that using Adderall as a performance enhancer is perfectly acceptable and not dangerous at all while only a small percentage feels there’s “slight danger” in using Adderall for academic performance enhancement.
Why Adderall is Dangerous
As is the case with any prescription drug, taking Adderall when it’s not actually needed can cause serious damage to one’s brain, particularly when it comes to the brain’s neurochemistry. Since the drug increases levels of dopamine in the brain, the continued abuse of Adderall causes the brain to consistently have higher-than-normal dopamine levels, which can cause a number of potentially lethal syndromes. Additionally, the effect that Adderall has on the brain’s dopamine level is one of the primary underlying mechanisms of Adderall addiction, leaving an individual in dire need of treatment.
When a person who’s addicted to a mind-altering substance suddenly stops taking that substance, he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms. In effect, these are the physiological symptoms that are caused by the brain being suddenly forced to balance its neurochemistry on its own after having come to rely on the substance for this very purpose. This same situation occurs when an individual who’s addicted to Adderall abruptly stops taking Adderall; he or she experiences withdrawal symptoms that can range in severity from mild to severe. With Adderall being a stimulant, one of the most well-known, and expected, withdrawal symptoms is an overall lack of energy and motivation. Adderall addicts in withdrawal experience intense fatigue and a general listlessness as well as a general confusion and difficulty concentrating.
Overcoming Adderall Addiction at Malvern Institute
The result of continuous Adderall abuse is inevitable addiction. Of course, we know that addiction occurs from a person abusing Adderall frequently, but few are aware of the actual effects that Adderall has on the brain. Due to how the drug changes the brain’s chemistry, the brain must adapt to those changes with the drug’s continued use, causing the brain to become dependent on Adderall as the primary means for it to achieve the minimal neurochemical levels required for survival. As a result, when a person who is addicted to Adderall is unable to obtain the drug, his or her dopamine and other neurochemical levels plummet, resulting in withdrawal.
Rather than trying to overcome Adderall addiction on one’s own, Malvern Institute offers high-quality treatments in the form of our Malvern Model of Care. With our model, patients experience the full continuum of care — beginning with detoxification and continuing through induction, inpatient care, and outpatient treatment — ensuring that they have ample opportunity to learn the skills needed to achieve lasting sobriety. If you would like to learn more about Adderall addiction treatment at Malvern Institute, or if you have any other questions, please call us anytime at 610.MALVERN (610.625.8376).