Signs Of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is a potent stimulant, and it can be hard to recognize when someone is abusing the drug. People often abuse Adderall to enhance alertness and productivity. They are often motivated individuals that don’t look like a stereotypical drug user. Most often, those who abuse Adderall are students and young professionals.

Stimulants will help anyone focus better. And a lot of young people like or value that feeling, especially those who are driven and have ambitions. We have to realize that these are potential addicts — drug addicts don’t look like they used to.

- Clinical neuropsychologist Dr. DeAnsin Parker, New York Times, 2013

Telltale signs of Adderall abuse may include:

  • Being overly talkative
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unusual excitability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Financial troubles
  • Aggression
  • Sleeping for long periods of time
  • Secretive behavior
  • Exhaustion
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Memory loss
  • Incomplete thoughts
  • Relationship problems
  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • Frequently taking pills
  • Financial difficulties
  • Overworking or overconcentrating
  • Running out of prescriptions early
  • Disorientation
  • Mania
  • Impulsive behaviors

Dangers And Side Effects Of Adderall (Prescription Amphetamines)

Many people who abuse Adderall wrongly assume the drug is safe because it comes from a doctor. Adderall is prescribed to people, including children, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This leads some people to think the drug is safe because children take it.

In reality, Adderall is a strong stimulant that can lead to serious — and potentially deadly — side effects. Overdose is one of the worst side effects of Adderall abuse, which can lead to heart attack, stroke and liver failure. Taking Adderall with other substances, such as alcohol, heighten the risk of a fatal overdose.

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In 2005, the Canadian government banned sales of Adderall XR (the time-released version of the drug) due to 20 deaths associated with the drug.

Adderall can also cause physical changes in the brain’s neurocircuitry. This can lead to altered behaviors and the development of mental disorders like depression. Some Adderall addicts become suicidal after taking the drug for a prolonged period of time.

Some drug users have even injected Adderall in an attempt to achieve a better “high” by delivering the drug directly into the bloodstream. Injecting the drug may provide a more intense high, but it is also a fast track to a fatal overdose. Athletes taking Adderall have died because their increased blood pressure leads to heat stroke and cardiac arrest. Amphetamines, including Adderall, have been banned by the International Olympic Committee since 1968, due in part to the dangers of these drugs.

Some of the side effects of Adderall abuse may include:

  • Convulsions
  • Paranoia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack or loss of strength
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • False sense of well-being
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Twitching
  • Seizures
  • Peeling skin
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Snorting Adderall

Snorting Adderall is common among users looking for immediate effects. They crush up their pills into a fine powder, sniffing Adderall into their sinus cavity. This often leads to a more intense high, but snorting Adderall comes with its own side effects.

Snorting pills cause destruction of the nasal and sinus cavities. The longer someone continues taking Adderall in this way, the more damage that can be done. Snorting also amplifies other Adderall side effects such as irregular heartbeat. Those snorting Adderall also have a heightened risk of overdose.

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Recognizing An Adderall Addiction

Prescriptions written for Adderall increased by nearly fivefold from 2002 to 2012, making it easier for people to get the drug from a friend or family member. Compared to that of other drugs, use of Adderall is rarely stigmatized; as such, many people don’t recognize when a loved one has a problem. People addicted to Adderall have even been known to fake the symptoms of ADHD to get their own prescription.

Not everyone who abuses Adderall has an addiction. Although it is a slippery slope, simply taking an Adderall from time to time to stay awake or increase productivity is not the same as needing the drug to function. The key to recognizing an Adderall addiction is spotting certain behaviors. Those who are addicted to Adderall prioritize using and obtaining the drug over all else because they can’t function without it. Addicted people have trouble controlling how much Adderall they take and may start ignoring important social or familial obligations.

Intervention And Next Steps

Interventions are a good way for friends and family to persuade an addicted person to get help.

The most important aspect of an intervention is for loved one’s to explain that they care about and want to help the addicted person.

Staging an intervention for someone who has an Adderall problem may seem like a drastic approach for some. Yet, it could save their life as some people addicted to Adderall don’t realize they have a problem.

Adderall users are also likely to start abusing other drugs like cocaine and meth. If it turns out your loved one has a polydrug addiction, it’s imperative to get them into treatment as soon as possible.

Interventions are carefully planned meetings between loved ones and the addicted individual. An intervention specialist can help you find the right words to say and outline consequences if the addict doesn’t accept treatment. Because people addicted to Adderall can become violent or self-destructive, it’s important to plan for a worst-case scenario.

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Withdrawal And Treatment

The withdrawal symptoms of Adderall withdrawal can make it hard for users to quit on their own. If someone addicted to Adderall quits “cold turkey,” they will experience effects that are essentially the opposite of the drug’s effects. These symptoms can include fatigue, loss of concentration and an unusually slow heartbeat.

Treatments for Adderall are similar to those available for other drugs at the center of addictions. Inpatient treatment can create an environment free from the normal temptations that led someone to their use disorder in the past.  Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and 12-step meetings can also help. Contact a treatment provider today to explore available options.

Published:

Author

Jeffrey Juergens

Photo of Jeffrey Juergens
  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

Theresa Parisi

Photo of Theresa Parisi
  • Theresa Parisi received her bachelor’s degree in Addiction Science and Psychology from Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minnesota in 2010. She is currently working towards her master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is a Certified Addiction Professional (CAP), Certified Behavioral Health Case Manager (CBHCM), and International Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ICADC) by the Florida Certification Board. Theresa is passionate about recovery having gone through addiction herself.

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