Adderall and similar prescription drugs allow sufferers of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to concentrate throughout the day and thus live normal productive lives. But because of these short term improvements in cognitive ability and alertness the drug has become sought after by non-ADHD afflicted high school and college students looking for a competitive edge in class and as a way of coping with large workloads. This unregulated use without a doctor’s supervision often leads to individuals taking unhealthy dosages and can lead to an addiction necessitating drug rehab – an addiction that in some cases can even lead to death.
Adderall is the trade name of a mixture of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, two powerful psychoactive stimulants that can have dangerous unintended consequences in both the long term and short term through their effects on the brain and body. In the short term, Adderall increases blood pressure rapidly and powerfully leading to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, especially in those with existing heart conditions. Adderall abusers do not typically have a doctor or pharmacist to guide them through the risks of taking the drug and therefore can unintentionally put themselves in danger by exacerbating such pre-existing conditions. They also are at risk of Adderall having harmful interactions with other prescription medications.
In addition to these short term problems, the amphetamine-based components of Adderall make the drug strongly addictive due to both its physical and psychological effects. Adderall use results in an initial “speed” high which make the user energetic and productive. Those familiar with the laws of physics should not be surprised that this initial high comes with an equal and opposite crash in which the Adderall user experiences extreme mental and physical fatigue. This often leads users to simply chase away the resultant ‘low’ with a new dose – a dangerous choice that can substitutes speed fueled wakefulness for necessary sleep and only postpones (and intensifies) the inevitable crash. Because of Adderall’s appetite suppressing qualities, addicts can additionally go days without noticing that they have not eaten; thus the body is deprived of its normal sources of energy – food and sleep – and the addict essentially relies solely on the amphetamine for consciousness.
Building a tolerance to the drug, which happens rapidly, subsequently leads to increased dosages becoming necessary in order to stave off withdrawal and makes it progressively more difficult to kick an Adderall addiction. Even though amphetamines do not create a physical dependence, a patient’s desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms means that professional help is typically necessary to eliminate the habit.
Treatment for the addiction varies depending on how long a patient has been taking the drug and the frequency of use. In many cases, full scale drug rehab in an inpatient rehabilitation facility is necessary due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms. However uncomfortable the withdrawal it is certainly preferable to long term use, which can lead to amphetamine psychosis, permanently causing delusions, hallucinations, and other psychological disorders.
Despite its reputation as a study aid, those who would take Adderall without a prescription must remember that amphetamine is a dangerous drug when used outside of a doctor’s care, and that the risks of addiction far outweigh whatever short run benefit the drug can provide.