Adderall is a prescription, brand-name stimulant medication. Due to the effects of Adderall on the brain and body, both dependence and addiction are possible. When someone is addicted to it, they may require professional Adderall dependence treatment or Adderall addiction rehab. Adderall addiction treatment can be something done on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Some people also decide to skip Adderall rehab and instead try to learn how to kick Adderall addiction on their own. There’s not one Adderall addiction treatment plan that’s right for every person, but know the signs of addiction and dependence and what treatment options are is helpful.
Why Do Some People Need Adderall Addiction Treatment?
What's In This Article?
Can you get addicted to Adderall? The answer is yes, but people are often surprised to hear that, particularly with how commonly Adderall is prescribed and used. Adderall is a powerful stimulant drug, used primarily for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. Adderall is a combination of two generic drugs—dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.
When someone takes Adderall, it impacts the presence of certain substances and neurotransmitters in the brain. When any substance affects the brain in this way, both addiction and dependence are possible.
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription ADHD medication. When someone has ADHD, Adderall can help them stay focused, control their behavior, and pay attention. It can also help with organization and listening skills.
Rarely Adderall is prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy as well. Narcolepsy is a condition in which someone has difficulty staying away during the day.
While Adderall can be a beneficial prescription medication for the people who need it, there are possible side effects. Side effects of Adderall include:
- Loss of appetite/weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Stomach pain and problems
- Problems sleeping
- High blood pressure
Very serious side effects of Adderall can include:
- Shortness of breathing
- Severe headache
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
How Does Adderall Work?
Stimulants like Adderall are the most commonly prescribed medications for the treatment of ADHD. When someone takes them, they increase the availability of particular chemicals that naturally occur in the brain. This makes brain pathways function more effectively.
When someone takes Adderall or other similar stimulants, it increases the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Then, the drug also slows or blocks how much of these brain chemicals are reabsorbed into the neuron where they came from.
That effect means more of these neurotransmitters are held in the synapses located between the neurons in the brain so they can bind to the receptor site.
When someone has ADHD, this effect helps make neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine more available. That then allows for the reduction of ADHD studies. However, if you don’t have ADHD, and you use Adderall, the excess dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain can actually cause you to feel high.
Someone high on Adderall may feel like they’re on top of the world or invincible. They may feel very energetic, very powerful, and have a false sense of well-being because of the effects of the drug on neurotransmitters. Euphoria, the ability to stay awake for long periods, and self-confidence can also occur with Adderall abuse.
There are two different situations in which you might recognize Adderall abuse in your child or someone you care about.
In the first situation, someone with a prescription for Adderall may begin abusing it by taking higher doses or using it recreationally.
Adderall abuse more commonly occurs when someone doesn’t have a prescription, however. Someone without a prescription may buy it or take it from someone who does to study, increase their performance in certain areas of their life, lose weight, or experience an Adderall high.
Adderall abuse is particularly common among high school and college students because it’s often considered a “study drug.”
When someone has a prescription for it and uses it as they’re instructed to by their doctor, the risk of Adderall abuse or addiction is very low.
Some of the signs of Adderall abuse that may occur before someone becomes addicted to the drug include:
- Loss of appetite
- Seeming unusually talkative
- Withdrawing from friends or normal activities
- Changes in behavior
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Weight loss
- Memory loss
- Seeming manic or impulsive
An Adderall overdose can occur as well. As someone uses more and more Adderall, their tolerance can grow. They may take more of the drug or combine it with other drugs to continue experiencing the same desired effects. This can increase the likelihood of an overdose. Symptoms of an Adderall overdose are:
- Extreme anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Changes in heartbeat
- Extreme confusion
- Loss of consciousness
Is Adderall Addictive?
Because of how common it is for young people to use or abuse Adderall, there’s often the question of “can you get addicted to Adderall.” The answer is yes.
Adderall is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States, meaning there’s a high potential for addiction and Adderall dependence as well.
Teens and young adult tend to be most at risk for Adderall addiction. This includes students and athletes.
Also at high risk for developing an Adderall addiction are people with high-stress jobs, people with eating disorders or individuals who want to lose weight, and people with a history of substance abuse or addiction.
Adderall addiction can begin like other addictions. When someone takes it, particularly in an abusive way or takes high doses, it triggers the release of dopamine and norepinephrine. These are neurotransmitters that are considered “feel-good” brain chemicals.
When these are released in the brain at high levels, the brain’s reward response is triggered. This reward response leads the brain to want to continue to seek out what led that feel-good, positive response.
That’s how addiction is born. While initially, someone might choose to use Adderall, once their brain’s reward response begins, the addiction is no longer in their control.
Of course, not everyone who uses Adderall will become addicted, but can you get addicted to Adderall? Yes, and many people do.
Signs of Adderall Addiction
Abusing Adderall is not the same as being addicted. Addiction to Adderall is a chronic disease that affects a person’s brain, psychological health, and physical health. Some of the possible signs of Adderall addiction include:
- Being unable to stop using Adderall or cut down, even when someone wants to.
- Taking Adderall continuously despite negative side effects and health effects.
- Spend a lot of time and money to get Adderall.
- Focusing extensive attention on maintaining a stash of Adderall.
- Needing larger doses to feel the effects of Adderall.
- Foregoing other interest or responsibilities in favor of instead using Adderall.
- Not feeling alert or able to concentrate or work without Adderall.
Ongoing Adderall use and addiction can also lead to physical issues such as irritability, insomnia, and disorientation.
What Is Adderall Dependence?
Addiction and dependence are two terms often used interchangeably with one another, but they are not the same. Adderall addiction is a brain disease that affects all areas of a person’s well-being.
Adderall dependence is a physiological response to ongoing Adderall use.
When you use many substances for extended periods of time, your brain and body become dependent on their presence. Your brain and body begin to function in a new sense of normal based on the ongoing exposure and presence of Adderall. This means you are dependent on it.
When you’re dependent on Adderall, if you stop using it suddenly, you may go through withdrawal.
Adderall withdrawal can be severe for some people and can cause serious functionality problems.
Since the symptoms can be severe, some people seek Adderall dependence treatment in the form of a professional, managed detox to help them during this time.
Symptoms of Adderall Withdrawal
The symptoms of Adderall withdrawal can vary for anyone, but some of the possible signs include:
- Feelings of hopelessness or a sense of emptiness
- Loss of interest in activities that would normally bring pleasure
- Loss of energy, lethargy or extreme fatigue
- Changes in sleep patterns including sleeping too much or sleeping too little
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Aches and pains
- Problems focusing
In severe cases, without appropriate Adderall dependence treatment, some people also experience thoughts of death or suicide, or suicidal behaviors or attempts.
Many of the symptoms of Adderall withdrawal are because your brain no longer has the high levels of the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.
These changes in brain chemistry may also cause extreme sensitivity to stress and alterations in the brain’s reward-seeking behaviors. Other possible symptoms of withdrawal from all stimulants and not just Adderall include:
- Unpleasant dreams
- Increases in appetite
- Problems with thinking
- Slow reflexes
- Drug cravings
What Options Are Available for Adderall Dependence Treatment?
Adderall dependence treatment options can include different prescription and over-the-counter medications. There is no currently approved medication specifically for the treatment of amphetamine or Adderall withdrawal, however.
If you are going to attempt to learn how to kick Adderall addiction on your own, and you’re concerned about withdrawal symptoms, keep the following in mind:
- Ask someone you trust to check in on you as you go through Adderall withdrawal.
- Give yourself at least a few days off from responsibilities, including school and work, and try to give yourself ample time to rest and physically and mentally recover.
- Eliminate your Adderall supply, which can increase the likelihood you relapse.
- Drink a lot of fluids, have electrolytes, and try to eat healthy meals as your body heals itself from Adderall dependence.
- Even if it’s challenging, try to get moving and get some exercise.
There are some substances that are very dangerous and do require professionally managed detox. Adderall isn’t necessarily one of those, but it’s difficult to predict what your symptoms will be or how severe they will be.
For example, if you experience extreme depression, you may need to speak with your health care provider.
How to Treat Adderall Addiction
Outside of the physical dependence element, there are Adderall addiction treatment options available.
One option is to participate in a residential, inpatient treatment. At an Adderall rehab center, you will live onsite for a period of time. This may also include an onsite detox.
During inpatient, resident Adderall rehab, you participate in different types of therapy. Many inpatient Adderall rehab programs will also include supplemental forms of therapy, such as mindfulness training or yoga.
The goal of an inpatient Adderall rehab or Adderall addiction treatment center program is to help you deal with the underlying factors that initially led to your addiction.
Along with inpatient rehab, there’s another option for Adderall addiction treatment as well, which is outpatient rehab. When exploring how to treat Adderall addiction, outpatient rehab may be a good fit for you if:
- Your Adderall addiction isn’t long-term or severe
- You haven’t already tried another type of treatment
- You aren’t able to go to inpatient rehab for any reason
Outpatient Adderall addiction rehab may require a commitment of several hours a week where you meet with a therapist, or perhaps participate in group therapy sessions.
Regardless of the specific form of Adderall addiction treatment that you opt for, most will focus primarily on behavioral therapy.
Two recommended forms of behavioral therapy for Adderall addiction are cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management.
With cognitive-behavioral therapy, you work with a therapist who will help you identify your drug triggers and change your negative thought patterns contributing to your Adderall abuse. As an example, if you do cognitive behavioral therapy to overcome an Adderall addiction, you might work on thought patterns you hold that tell you you aren’t able to perform well without the use of the drug.
Contingency management is another form of behavioral therapy which focuses on the brain’s desire to stimulate its own reward system. You might be rewarded by your counselor for making positive steps toward kicking your Adderall addiction.
How to Help Someone Addicted to Adderall
If you believe your child or someone you care about is addicted to Adderall, there are things you can do to help them in a positive way.
If you believe the addiction is likely severe, you can begin researching and preparing for them to go to an addiction treatment center.
You may want to stage an intervention as well, which again whether or not you do this depends a lot on the severity of the addiction.
During an intervention, loved ones of the person struggling with Adderall addiction will come together and share how they are impacted by the addiction.
Summing Up—Adderall Addiction Treatment
If you are struggling with an addiction to Adderall or any form of drug abuse to a prescription drug or an illicit drug, know that help is available and you aren’t alone. Seeking addiction treatment may be the right option for you, such as entering a treatment program at an inpatient addiction center.
If you’re addicted to Adderall you might also instead to try a form of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or you could participate in an outpatient treatment program.
Regardless of the option you go with, treatment is important because Adderall addiction is possible and the long-term effects of Adderall can be severe.