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Adderall is categorized as a Class II controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Being a schedule II drug means that Adderall has significant potential for abuse and can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Adderall is a prescription stimulant drug which means that it is not available as over-the-counter medication and needs a legitimate prescription from a doctor. Adderall is primarily used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Since Adderall is both a prescription and a controlled drug it is strictly monitored such that no one can take hold of the drug if they are not prescribed Adderall and if someone is found having Adderall without a legitimate prescription they will have to face dire legal consequences as the penalty can be a hefty fine or imprisonment depending on the State laws. Moreover, even after having a prescription for the drug, the pharmacist will ensure that you meet the regulations for getting Adderall meaning that you are asking for the drug after a certain time since your last prescription because going to pharmacy frequently to get the drug hints towards abuse and addiction of the drug.
Adderall is a safe drug if taken at low doses, as prescribed by the doctor to treat legitimate medical ailments. However, when taken in increased doses and for longer than the prescribed duration, Adderall can cause tolerance which means that a person may require more of the drug to achieve the same therapeutic effect. If a person continues taking increased doses or uses Adderall for recreational purposes, they soon become dependent on the drug such that they experience withdrawal episodes when they discontinue the drug.
Addiction to Adderall may follow soon after dependence on the substance develops which can lead to deleterious consequences. Hence, Adderall is a controlled substance so that the way it is manufactured, used, distributed, and stored can be strictly regulated to mitigate the risk of abuse and addiction to Adderall.
Adderall is a combination of two drugs namely- amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall increases the release of norepinephrine and dopamine by acting on the central nervous system due to which it is used to treat various disorders that require alertness and focus.
People use Adderall to increase attention span and to reduce hyperactivity as seen in conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a medical condition in which a child has neurodevelopmental issues which present as impulsiveness in behavior, irritable mood, hyperactivity, and difficulty with maintaining attention. Research has proven that taking a stimulant such as Adderall which contains Amphetamines salts tend to improve the condition of children with ADHD such that the brain structure of these children resembles the brain structure of normal individuals after taking Amphetamine. Therefore, treatment with Adderall in children with ADHD prevents the progression of this disorder.
In addition, Adderall is sometimes prescribed for the treatment of Narcolepsy which is a chronic neurological condition in which a person experiences daytime sleepiness and sudden bouts of drowsiness throughout the day even after a long rested sleep at night. Since Adderall increases the release of norepinephrine it keeps the brain alert and helps in maintaining wakefulness during the day. Besides, ADHD and narcolepsy Adderall is also used to treat other neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease to improve the cognitive symptoms that arise in these disorders.
However, much off-label use of Adderall has increased the risk of abuse and addiction associated with this drug. People often use Adderall to treat obesity and depression. It is also used by college students to improve academic performance as it is assumed that this drug increases productivity.
Since Adderall gives a boost of energy, improves mood, and causes a feeling of euphoria similar to a ‘high’, so people often use it recreationally to benefit from these effects, not realizing the detrimental consequences that this drug has on their bodies.
No, Adderall is not an opioid. Adderall belongs to the stimulant class of drugs whereas opioids are narcotic analgesics. Adderall is mistaken for an opioid due to the widespread use of this drug as a recreational drug similar to opioids. However, both the drugs are quite dissimilar considering that opioids are derived from the poppy plant, opium, whereas Adderall contains amphetamine salts which are similar to and derived from the plant alkaloid ‘ephedrine’.
Opioids and Adderall both act on the central nervous system but their effects are widely contrasting since opioids act by depressing the central nervous system by decreasing signal transmission, whereas, Adderall acts by increasing the alertness of the brain by stimulating the central nervous system and increasing the signal transmission across neurons. However, both opioids and Adderall interfere with the release of dopamine but the mechanism through which the increase in neurotransmitter is achieved is different in both drugs.
Adderall although used to improve certain neurological conditions by increasing alertness and concentration span, yet has certain side effects associated with its use. They are as follows:
- Insomnia (difficulty in sleeping)
- Dry mouth
- Hoarseness of voice
- Changes in vision
- Slowed speech
Some individuals, however, experience serious side effects that are associated with the use of Adderall. These include:
- Numbness of the extremities
- Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
- Increased blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
- Chest pain
Who is at risk of developing these side effects?
Not everyone who takes Adderall experiences the serious side effects associated with the use of Adderall. Certain risk factors make a person prone to experience these negative effects and people who have these factors should talk to their doctor and should use the medicine with caution. Following individuals are at an increased risk of getting side effects of Adderall:
- Individuals with circulatory problems
- Individuals with a prior history of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack
- Individuals with a history of drug abuse
- Individuals who have depression and/or anxiety
- Individuals who have bipolar disorder
- Individuals who have glaucoma
- Individuals who have a history of stroke
- Individuals who have hyperthyroidism
- Individuals who are allergic to stimulant medications
- Individuals who get seizures
- Individuals who have high blood pressure
- Individuals who have recently used Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI)
Adderall relapse is a state in which a person starts abusing the drug after abstaining from it. Relapse is common in addictive disorders and it should not be considered as a failure of addiction treatment. The road to recovery is usually rough and it is seen that people may relapse. Treatment adherence is vital to prevent relapse. However, certain factors can increase the risk of Adderall relapse. High-risk conditions such as going through unemployment, or having a single marital status, being of old age, and having a co-occurring mental disorder can trigger episodes of relapse, and a person may relapse into the vicious trap of drug addiction.
Aftercare strategy helps in preventing relapse and lowers the chances of reusing Adderall. In aftercare support, individuals are trained to recognize the potential events that can lead them to relapse and how to overcome such high-risk events in life without giving in to the cravings of Adderall.
In addition, support groups have proved to help mitigate the risk of relapse as it improves the long-term outcomes for 5 to 6 years. As people interact with individuals who go through the same challenges as they face so it helps them to manage the shortcomings and to continue abstaining from the drug.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been very promising in helping individuals to improve abstinence. People have markedly improved after a 6-month CBT and have shown reduced Adderall use along with improved stress and social coping skills, drug refusal, and avoidance.
If someone takes Adderall in doses greater than prescribed or for a longer duration then chances are that their brain may become dependent on the effect of the drug and the level of dopamine may decrease when the drug is not administered. This leads to frequent outbursts of anger, irritability, and aggressiveness.
A person may go into fits of anger after taking the drug for too long. It has been noticed that people taking Adderall for an extended period experience aggressiveness and suicidal thoughts. However, these effects vary from person to person as they may not manifest in everyone and certain factors govern the presentation of these side effects. These include the weight of an individual, their health status, the duration for which Adderall is taken, and whether the person has developed tolerance to the drug.
Prolong use of Adderall is associated with personality changes and it is observed that when people intoxicate Adderall they can develop psychosis that is difficult to distinguish from schizophrenia. Since Adderall interferes with the neurotransmitter in the brain it alters the brain chemistry by disrupting the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine.
Adderall is known to induce hostility and aggressive behavior. A person may feel lethargic and find it hard to enjoy the simple pleasure of life after using Adderall for too long.
Over long-term use, Adderall causes frequent low moods and the person may experience hallucinations and delusions.
When used as prescribed by the physician Adderall increases alertness and a person becomes more focused. A person using Adderall may also experience grandiosity in which a person thinks very highly of himself. Obsessive behavior is also noticed with frequent use of Adderall.