Is Adderall Bad For You? | Long-Term Effects Of Adderall Abuse
- How Does Adderall Work?
- Is Adderall Bad For You?
- Long-Term Effects Of Adderall Abuse
- Adderall Addiction Treatment
When used as prescribed, Adderall is generally safe. However, some people abuse Adderall by using it in a manner not prescribed.
Adderall is the brand name for a combination medication consisting of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It’s prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies Adderall as a Schedule II controlled substance. That means it has a high potential for abuse. People who abuse Adderall face a variety of long-term health risks.
How Does Adderall Work?
As a stimulant drug, Adderall speeds up your central nervous system. It also increases the activity of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) called dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These effects boost your energy, alertness, and concentration. In addition, they ease symptoms of ADHD such as impulsivity and irritability.
Like other prescription stimulant medications, Adderall can cause side effects. The most common side effects of Adderall include:
- loss of appetite and weight loss
- painful menstrual cramps
- changes in sex drive or ability, including erectile dysfunction
Adderall can also cause rarer, more serious side effects, such as:
- blurred vision
- depression and suicidal thoughts
- verbal or motor tics
- slow or difficult speech
- trouble breathing or swallowing
- pain or numbness in the hands or feet
- pale or bluish fingers or toes
- rash, hives, or blisters
- swelling of the eyes, face, tongue, or throat
If you or someone you know experiences these more serious effects seek medical advice right away.
Is Adderall Bad For You?
Adderall is generally safe when used as prescribed. However, some people abuse Adderall by:
- using it more often than prescribed
- using higher doses than prescribed
- using it without a prescription
- crushing and snorting the tablets
- mixing it with other drugs
People abuse Adderall for different reasons. Many college students abuse it to boost their academic performance. Other people abuse it to experience euphoria (intense joy), which the drug can cause at high doses.
No matter why you do it, abusing Adderall makes you more likely to experience the drug’s negative side effects. It also increases your risk of certain long-term health problems.
Long-Term Effects Of Adderall Abuse
The most common long-term health effects associated with Adderall abuse include:
Mental Health Problems
Many people who abuse Adderall experience mania, which is a period of heightened mood often associated with bipolar disorder. Common symptoms of mania include:
- abnormally upbeat or excited mood
- increased physical activity
- increased talkativeness
- racing thoughts
- increased confidence
- reduced need for sleep
Adderall abuse also increases your risk of experiencing psychosis. Psychosis is a temporary loss of connection with reality. It’s often linked to mental health conditions like schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar disorder. Common symptoms of psychosis include:
- intense anxiety
- delusions (holding beliefs that aren’t based in reality)
- hallucinations (seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there)
- trouble thinking or communicating clearly
Cardiovascular Problems (Heart Problems)
Adderall raises your heart rate and blood pressure. That’s why long-term use or abuse of the drug can cause heart attack or stroke, especially if you have pre-existing high blood pressure or heart disease.
Common signs of heart attack include:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- pain in the arms, shoulders, back, neck, or jaw
Common signs of a stroke include:
- weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- trouble communicating
When left untreated, a heart attack or stroke can cause sudden death.
Often, people who abuse Adderall become addicted to it. You may also develop Adderall addiction if you use the drug as prescribed for a long period of time.
The most common signs of Adderall addiction are physical dependence and tolerance. Physical dependence means your body starts depending on Adderall to function. If you stop using it too suddenly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:
- stomach aches
- nausea and vomiting
- trouble sleeping
Tolerance means your body becomes used to the effects of Adderall over time. You’ll then crave increasingly higher or more frequent doses, which raises your risk of serious side effects, including overdose.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an Adderall overdose causes symptoms like panic, faster breathing, fever, and confusion. When left untreated, it can be fatal.
Other signs of Adderall addiction include:
- intense cravings for Adderall
- mood swings
- loss of motivation
- loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- avoidance of friends and family members
- doctor shopping (visiting multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions of Adderall)
Adderall Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you know shows signs of Adderall addiction, seek help at a substance abuse treatment program. These programs offer recovery-focused services such as:
- medical detox to help you manage Adderall withdrawal symptoms
- cognitive behavioral therapy to help you manage Adderall cravings
- support groups to connect you with other people recovering from Adderall addiction or other substance use disorders
To learn more about treatment for Adderall abuse and addiction, please contact a Recovering Champions specialist. Our board-certified health care providers offer personalized, evidence-based care to help you stay healthy and drug-free.
Recovering Champions Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.