How Adderall Addiction Starts

Unlike many other prescription drugs, Adderall will not cause an addiction in individuals who truly need it as long as they stick to the prescribed dosages.

However, since there is such easy access to Adderall in the medicine cabinets of family or friends, illegally over the Internet or on the street, people who have no medical need for the drug are now taking it in high numbers and in much larger doses than intended. Why is a prescription medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) being craved by the masses?

It is due to the fact the drug has the opposite effect on adults than on children with ADHD.
For those struggling with ADHD, Adderall calms down the brain allowing them to concentrate better. Whereas for the rest of the population Adderall acts as a stimulant, reducing the need for sleeping or eating while still improving focus and concentration. These effects are very tempting for some segments of the population.1

Why Adderall Is So Appealing

Adderall is an amphetamine that causes hyper-stimulation throughout the brain and nervous system. People who abuse it report that it makes them feel strong, self-assured and full of energy.

With this extra energy and confidence, people are able to accomplish more than they would normally without the drug and not feel overwhelmed or overextended. In addition to extra energy, Adderall also represses an individual’s appetite and therefore causes weight loss.

These results of taking Adderall come in especially handy on college campuses where students oftentimes have overly ambitious schedules and are prone to depression and weight gain as they adjust to life away from home for the first time.2 In fact, Adderall has been given the name “college crack” at universities around the country because its use has become commonplace on many campuses.

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What Are Some Signs of Adderall Addiction

The US Drug Enforcement Administration has Adderall classified as a schedule II drug because of its high potential for abuse. Addiction generally develops after taking the drug for a prolonged period of time. Like many other drugs, the dosage increases over time as the body becomes more used to it. This often leads to abuse and even overdose.

Some Adderall addiction signs to watch out for are:

  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • Uncontrollable tremors or shaking
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Excessive talkiness
  • Slow or difficult speech
  • Chest pain
  • Paranoia or mania
  • Changes in vision
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased Appetite
  • Aggressive behavior

The Adderall Addiction Process

Adderall addiction starts as an emotional dependence with thoughts such as the following:

  • “I need the drug to get good grades and succeed in life.”
  • “Without Adderall, I’ll be fat, and no one will like me.”
  • “I’m way more fun at parties when I’ve taken an Adderall.

These types of thoughts drive the initial phases of Adderall abuse. When the drug moves out of the system, the individual crashes and is completely physically worn out. The exhaustion propels the need for more Adderall.

If someone has been occasionally taking Adderall, they can generally stop using it without negative physical consequences.
On the other hand, individuals who have been taking Adderall in dosages and frequencies outside of what is prescribed by physicians will experience physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms if they stop using or are unable to access more of the drug.

Adderall withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Irritable mood
  • Depression
  • Inability to sleep
  • Inability to perform normal daily activities
  • Overwhelming fatigue
  • Lack of appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

If someone with an Adderall addiction runs out, they may seek out other prescription drugs to ease the withdrawal symptoms. Medications used for anxiety, depression, and sleep such as Valium, Xanax and Ambien are all drugs commonly sought to relieve Adderall withdrawal symptoms.

Who Is at Risk?

The people most at risk to develop an Adderall addiction are often in different social circles, but they can overlap, including the following:

  • Ambitious, competitive individuals who tend to push the limits of what they can accomplish
  • Individuals who suffer from depression and/or are overweight

Stimulant abuse — Adderall and Ritalin and others — is so prevalent on college campuses because of its desired effects to focus harder, accomplish more and sleep less. All of these are strong temptations in the higher education atmosphere. Although anyone may develop a problem with Adderall, competition among college students to maintain high grades seems to be one of the biggest factors in the impulse to start experimenting with the drug.

Finding Help for Adderall Addiction

The best way to find lasting sobriety in the aftermath of an Adderall addiction is through a professional rehabilitation program. If you or someone you care about has a problem with Adderall, we want to help.

We want to be that help for you. We have experienced admissions coordinators standing by 24 hours a day to help you take the first step of the journey to recovery. We can assist you in finding the most effective evidence-based Adderall addiction treatment for your individual needs.

We want to help you find a fulfilling life without addiction to stimulants. Please call our toll-free helpline, 678-251-3189 to start your recovery journey now.

1 Rivas, Anthony, “Adderall’s Effect On Your Brain: Whatever Obscure Benefits There Are, It’s Not Worth It.”, December 11, 2014.
2Depression and College Students.” National Institute of Mental Health, Accessed May 24, 2018.

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