What Is Adderall Addiction?
Adderall is a drug with legitimate medical uses. But it is also abused and can be addictive, and teens and college students are particularly at risk. Treatment for addiction may include detox and therapy and takes place in an inpatient or outpatient facility.
Adderall is a widely used drug that’s prescribed to treat ADHD in adults, teens, and children; however, it’s also part of a growing trend of prescription drugs that are abused in the US. Many use Adderall in an attempt to help them academically, but many simply use the stimulant for the more euphoric feelings it produces. When you abuse any drug, it can lead to negative consequences, but abusing Adderall is especially dangerous.
If ever there was an environment ripe for peer pressure it is found on college campuses throughout the country. Most students staying in dorms or other campus housing are experiencing living on their own for the first time. This gives them the opportunity to make many responsible choices. It also fosters an atmosphere where “going along with the group” is prevalent. This might explain the fad referred to as “academic doping” that is sweeping across colleges. The myth that a drug like Adderall can help a student focus on exams has taken hold. As a result, more students are experimenting with this type of narcotic, thinking it will be a shortcut to better grades.
Adderall is referred to as a composite type of medication, meaning it combines elements of two specific drug types. With Adderall, those substances are dextroamphetamine or Dexedrine and amphetamine. Adderall has been around for over 20 years.
When it first came on the market, it was prescribed as a diet suppressant. Soon it evolved into an effective treatment for children and young adults who were diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly known as ADHD.
Because Adderall is an amphetamine, there is a high risk of developing a substance abuse problem when taking the drug outside of prescribed dosages. A survey conducted by IMS America, an organization that studies drug usage, found that there were over 11 million prescriptions for some type of amphetamine written for patients in 2004. Of that number, seven million of those prescriptions were specifically for Adderall. This makes it one of the most common prescriptions on the market today.
Potential for Adderall Addiction
The medical journal Addiction conducted a study of drug use on college campuses. For their study, they sent out questionnaires to students enrolled at over 100 campuses. The results of that study indicated that at least 25 percent of those students had used Adderall to help them cram for tests. In 2008, the federal government-sponsored a study entitled “National Survey on Drug Use” where researchers found that approximately 6.4 percent of enrolled college students admitted to taking Adderall during the previous school year.
There is also increased pressure for college students to maintain high GPAs. There is where the urban myth of the “study drug” came into being. The rumor is that taking Adderall before a big test will let you stay up all night to study and help you maintain focus when it’s time to take the test.
Although its stimulant properties might indeed let you stay up through the night, there is nothing to suggest that Adderall is some sort of magic pill to help you unlock answers. Unfortunately, many college students succumb to the temptation of a purported quick fix and end up addicted to Adderall.
This is also why Adderall is often swapped among students. The easy access means the temptation is greater to develop an abuse problem.
At first, your body will become hooked to the burst of energy associated with Adderall. Then it can lead to a psychological dependency when you feel as though you won’t be able to perform without taking the drug. Once the rationalization process starts, the addiction has already become deeply rooted.
The study found that full-time college students, between the ages of 18 and 22, were twice as likely to abuse Adderall than those of the same age not in college (6.4 percent versus 3.0 percent).
Individuals using Adderall non-medically in college were also:
- Three times as more likely to have used marijuana in the past year (79.9 percent versus 27.2 percent)
- Eight times more likely to have used cocaine (28.9 percent versus 3.6 percent)
- Eight times more likely to have used tranquilizers non-medically (24.5 percent versus 3 percent)
- Five times more likely to have used painkillers non-medically (44.7 percent versus 8.7 percent)
- Ninety percent of those using Adderall non-medically were reported binge drinkers and more than 50 percent were reported to be heavy drinkers
A lot of people in their 20’s are able to get their hands on ADHD stimulant medications even without a doctor’s recommendation. This is a big issue that can result in rampant misuse.
But where do these college-age individuals get access to the medications? A 2016 Recovery Brands survey found that more than 60% of young people 18 to 28 years old get their hands on their doctor-prescribed ADHD stimulant medications from companions. More than 20% acquire them through their family, almost 20% by means of fellow students, and merely 14.8% via a street dealer.
Those with a prescription are advised to keep track of their prescription medications used to treat ADHD in order to protect susceptible people from the consequences of stimulant abuse.
Risks of Teen Addiction
As mentioned, your age can impact your decision to abuse Adderall. A study conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that at least 6.5 percent of high school seniors use Adderall in an abusive manner.
Students in high school, as well as college students, often abuse the drug in order to stay alert to study, keep up with classwork, or even maintain their jobs or extracurricular activities. Often, adults in high-stress professions also abuse Adderall for many of the same reasons – they need to remain awake, be energetic, and even maintain significant concentration for long periods of time.
However, often, people simply abuse Adderall for recreational purposes, not professional or academic ones similar to other abused drugs. In each of these cases, it can be difficult to understand if your Adderall use has become more serious. Friends and family, however, may be able to observe certain symptoms in you and help you get the Adderall you need.
If you’ve been abusing Adderall regularly, your body is likely dependent upon the drug. This means that you’ll potentially experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms as the drug slowly makes its way out of your body.
Adderall Addiction Withdrawal
As a stimulant, Adderall amps up various bodily functions; it increases heart rate, raises blood pressure, and can even increase breathing rates. As with any stimulant, it’s best to detox while under the supervision of medical professionals. This ensures that medical personnel can step in quickly and assist should any abnormalities occur with the detox process.
What to Expect During Withdrawal From Adderall?
As Adderall leaves your body, various symptoms of withdrawal may kick in. Some people may only experience one or two of the symptoms, whereas others may feel all the symptoms strongly. These symptoms include:
- Appetite changes
- Mood swings
How to Manage Withdrawal Symptoms
While there is no medication that is approved to mitigate Adderall withdrawal specifically, some doctors may prescribe medications to counteract some of the side effects of withdrawal.
Many doctors prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to deal with the sadness, hopelessness, and worry that addicts often experience during withdrawal. When you detox in a medical facility, staff members are on hand to deal with your withdrawal symptoms accordingly; if medication is needed, it will be prescribed.
In some instances, medical professionals may recommend a step-down approach to detox. With this approach, you’ll take a decreasingly smaller dosage of Adderall each day, until you are eventually no longer taking the drug at all.
One issue that many have in terms of seeking treatment involves the perceived cost. Often people think that rehab is too expensive and therefore not for them. The CDC has found that fewer than 10 percent of all addicts who attempt to change their habits alone succeed.
You likely need rehab to fully recover from your addiction.
Like most drugs or alcohol, Adderall is an addictive substance that is treated in a number of ways. For many, inpatient care is the most recommended option. Inpatient care is a comprehensive treatment method, allowing you to live in an environment apart from what might have caused your addiction initially.
This may mean being away from family and friends. It also gives you the chance to detox and undergoes therapy in the same facility. Private residential Adderall treatment is also an option you can consider for more exclusive and private treatment.
Outpatient treatment for Adderall addiction is much different than its inpatient alternative. Outpatient care does not remove you from your home situation for treatment; instead, you’re allowed to stay at home, commit yourself to recovery and attend regular sessions at the Adderall treatment facility. Outpatient care recommends that if you need drug detox, you seek it at a local hospital, but you can still attend both group and one-on-one therapy
Paying for Treatment
While the cost of rehab can be high, the emotional and physical costs that come from not getting treatment can be much higher.
Typically, inpatient treatment is considered the more expensive option, but it’s also attainable by a variety of means. Insurance is welcomed by many facilities, and there are treatment programs that are willing to arrange for extending payment deadlines if necessary.
Outpatient care is often the more affordable option and can be utilized if your Adderall abuse dependency is considered to be manageable without medical intervention.
Many outpatient addiction programs accept insurance as well. As with inpatient, many facilities are willing to work with you should you be unable to pay immediately.
You may also want to consider taking out personal loans with the bank if you are unable to pay for treatment out of pocket. Others have also found success in refinancing their homes to pay for treatment. While these options might not be right for everyone, they are something to consider if you’re concerned about getting the help you need.