Adderall is a prescription stimulant indicated for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adderall (amphetamine-dextroamphetamine) is designed to improve focus and attention spans in those experiencing ADHD.
Long-Term Effects of Adderall
People who abuse Adderall over a prolonged period may experience the following:
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lack of motivation
- Lethargy and fatigue
- Suicidal thoughts
- Mood swings
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Heart disease
- Weight loss
ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurological conditions among children and adolescents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as of July 2015, nearly 10%, or close to 6 million, U.S. children between the ages of 4-17 had been diagnosed with ADHD.
As prescriptions for Adderall increase, so may its potential for diversion and recreational use. Adderall is often utilized as a “smart drug” by college students. It may be abused by students in response to the pressures of higher education, as students believe it will help them get better grades because they can stay awake and study longer.
Adderall also suppresses appetite and therefore may also be abused as a weight loss drug. Other times it may be used in combination with other drugs or alcohol, or to get “high.” Using Adderall in conjunction with other substances can be very hazardous and increases the likelihood of a life-threatening overdose or adverse interaction between the substances.
Stimulant drugs such as Adderall are addictive and abusing them for non-medical purposes may increase the risk of developing a psychological and physical dependence upon them.
How Prolonged Adderall Use Affects the Brain
Stimulants improve concentration and boost energy levels while reducing the need for sleep and suppressing appetite. Stimulants alter and enhance the activity of several neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Over time, the fluctuations in dopamine activity can affect the brain’s reward center, and alter a person’s ability to feel pleasure without the chemical support of amphetamine use.
The more often it is abused, the more established these long-term effects of Adderall become. Tolerance to the drug may develop, and more Adderall may be needed at each dose to feel the desired effects. As Adderall leaves the bloodstream, symptoms of withdrawal and drug cravings can occur, meaning that the person has developed a physical and emotional dependence on the drug.
Someone who has become dependent on Adderall may have difficulty sleeping and concentrating, exhibit a lack of motivation, and feel depressed, irritable, or fatigued when it is eliminated from the body. Abusing amphetamines such as Adderall may also increase the risk of aggression and suicidal thoughts.
For those who have been abusing Adderall for a prolonged period, the emotional aspect of withdrawal may be the most prominent side effect. Natural production of dopamine is diminished, resulting in low moods and difficulty feeling pleasure without the drug’s presence. Fortunately, most of these changes in the brain will be repaired over time with maintained abstinence and appropriate care and support.
In some instances, Adderall and other prescription stimulants have been reported to precipitate psychosis and schizophrenia-like symptoms, such as hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and other behavioral or mood disturbances.
Anxiety and panic attacks may also be caused by extended use of an amphetamine stimulant or during Adderall withdrawal. Symptoms may be more intense for someone with a history of mental illness or an underlying mental health condition, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Physical Side Effects
Stimulants like Adderall increase body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and repeated abuse, particularly in high doses, can lead to a wide range of medical issues such as stroke, heart attack, and seizures.
Adderall can result in damage to the heart and cardiovascular system when used for an extended period, especially when used in excess. The most common Adderall-related cardiovascular problems are hypertension (high blood pressure) and tachycardia (irregular heart rate). Sudden cardiac arrest is also a possible side effect of Adderall.
Other unpleasant long-term effects of Adderall misuse include:
- Abdominal pain
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations
- Trouble breathing
- Feeling jittery or “on edge”
Using Adderall excessively for a prolonged period increases all risk factors and possible long-term side effects, which may get progressively worse.
Treatment for Adderall Abuse and Addiction
Adderall addiction is a devastating, potentially fatal condition that requires intensive treatment in the form of long-term therapy, education, counseling, and support. Adderall addiction has no definitive “cure,” but those who undergo treatment are given the opportunity to reclaim their lives and once again live in peace and sobriety.
Our addiction treatment center offers clients a secure, structured environment and addiction specialists who are qualified to effectively address the individual needs of each client using an in-depth, custom approach to drug addiction treatment and recovery.
If you or someone you love has an addiction to Adderall, please seek treatment as soon as possible. Contact us today to learn about our treatment options!