What is Adderall?


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medications, such as Adderall, Vyvanse, Dexedrine and Ritalin, are prescribed for the management of ADHD/ADD. It is also sometimes prescribed to treat narcolepsy. Adderall’s generic name is dextroamphetamine, which is a stimulant medication known as an amphetamine.

Prescription amphetamines can be a great help to those with ADHD, but they can be abused by anyone who takes them for other purposes, such as staying alert while driving or studying for exams. Frequent misuse is seen in high school and college students. Not all amphetamines are available as prescriptions; a commonly made illicit form is methamphetamine. Misuse of Adderall and other prescription stimulants can result in physical dependency, abuse, and addiction.

Adderall and other ADHD medications can be habit-forming, which has led to its controversial role in our nationwide epidemic of prescription drug abuse and addictions. Adderall is prescribed to patients with an ADHD diagnosis to help them improve focus and concentration. Non-prescribed Adderall and other ADHD medications have become popular among students to help them finish difficult assignments or to keep their concentration while studying. While these are good intentions, using Adderall that was not prescribed for you is drug abuse, and can have dangerous health consequences.

Adderall side effects and dangers

Like any prescription medication, Adderall may cause side effects even when taking it correctly. The following Adderall side effects are common:

  • Stomach ache
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Loss of bodily movement control, e.g. nervous tics
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dehydration

Adderall use crosses the line into abuse and addiction when it is misused. If you feel you must continue your Adderall prescription past your prescribed treatment length, it is important to talk to your doctor about what to do, instead of self-medicating beyond this treatment window.

There are serious risks to Adderall misuse. Sharing, giving away or selling Adderall is against the law because of its dangerous medical consequences. Prescriptions are filled for specific doses tailored to specific people, and its effects can have adverse reactions in others. Taking an excessive Adderall dose, or mixing it with other sedatives such as alcohol, can result in a life-threatening overdose.

Adderall overdose symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  • Overactive or overresponsive reflexes
  • Rapid breathing
  • Confusion
  • Assaultive or violent behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • High fever
  • Breakdown of muscle fibers
  • Increased pulse
  • Chest pain

These symptoms can be deadly if not treated immediately.

If a person with a Adderall addiction is unable to access the drug, they may look for illegal sources or alternative sedatives. Because this illegal Adderall is not controlled by a pharmacy, it frequently contains unknown and harmful ingredients.

Adderall abuse and addiction signs

Any use of Adderall outside of a doctor’s instructions is considered drug abuse. This includes tampering with Adderall pills by chewing, crushing or cutting them in order to ingest a higher dose than prescribed. Even if the Adderall pills are not tampered with, taking more pills than prescribed is also considered abuse of the drug.

Adderall addiction signs include:

  • Taking more than the prescribed dosage
  • “Doctor shopping” for multiple prescriptions
  • Tampering with Adderall before taking it
  • Mixing Adderall with other sedative drugs or alcohol

Adderall withdrawal symptoms

Most stimulant withdrawal signs and symptoms usually begin to occur within twenty-four hours of the last dose of stimulation.

Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Disorientation
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Dysphoria (generalized dissatisfaction with life)
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Abnormally long sleep patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating

These problems vary in severity and duration depending on the amount of Adderall taken and duration of use. Some people use stimulants to counteract the drowsiness or “down” caused by sleeping pills or alcohol. The “up/down” cycle is extremely dangerous and hard on the body. Stimulant withdrawal can produce profound loss of energy and very intense cravings, which frequently result in relapse back to using and even death. The type of prescription stimulant used affects how long it takes for the withdrawal symptoms to subside.

Adderall withdrawal stabilization

Brain chemical imbalances caused by stimulant addiction can cause severe cravings during the early sobriety period (up to twelve to eighteen months after stopping the stimulant) and both these severe cravings for the stimulant, as well as trouble thinking clearly, can cause an elevated risk of relapse to stimulant or other drug use.

Unfortunately, no medications have been specifically approved for the treatment of stimulant dependence by the FDA at this time. However, a variety of medications for stimulant addiction have been tested in numerous research trials sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Modafinil (trade name Provigil), a medication that is used to treat sleep disorders, shows real promise for cocaine addiction, possibly by reducing symptoms of cocaine withdrawal.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, this medicine, at a dose of 200mg per day, in combination with talking therapy, increased the ability of some addicts to abstain from using cocaine, as well as reduced their cravings. Propranolol (trade name Inderal) also seems to help decrease the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. These first two potential medications seem to help reduce the withdrawal symptoms from cocaine addiction. Yet another group of potential “anti-stimulant” medications have been found to help to prevent relapse to stimulant use (especially cocaine) during the later phases of treatment. Some of the more promising medications used for this goal include topiramate (trade name Topamax) disulfiram (trade name Antabuse), gabapentin (trade name Neurontin), and naltrexone (trade name Vivitrol).

Adderall addiction treatment options

An evidence-based combination of therapeutic and pharmacological addiction treatment can help those with Adderall addiction regain a stable and productive life. Research shows that integrating both types of treatment is the most effective approach to restoring a degree of normal function to the brain and addressing underlying issues.

Enterhealth Ranch provides supervised drug and alcohol detox (also known as withdrawal stabilization) services for Adderall addiction, which includes science-based medication therapy and medical staff available daily onsite.

Effective behavioral treatments for Adderall addiction can be administered in a residential or outpatient setting. A treatment plan may include:

  • Psychiatric assessment and treatment
  • Psychological assessment and treatment
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy sessions
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
  • Wellness, nutritional and stress management treatment services
  • Medication management

Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence offer the full continuum of care including residential and outpatient treatment options, both integrated together for the patient’s individual situation. During the residential phase of treatment, patients live at our 43-acre ranch facility while undergoing treatment. Among many other treatments, patients attend addiction recovery therapy sessions that are specialized to each individual’s addiction challenges. Upon completion of the residential rehabilitation phase, the patient can transition to our outpatient facility, where patients receive continued, medically supervised treatment while living at their own residence.

Through therapy and counseling for Adderall addiction treatment, the psychological aspects of dependency can be better understood by the patient and addiction can be completely overcome. Counseling may be individual or group-oriented, and may also include the family. Continuing care programs are also available, as they are essential to provide counseling and continued support over a number of years.

Adderall addiction recovery with Enterhealth

People suffering from Adderall addiction or ADHD medication addiction may feel hopeless, but they are not alone. Enterhealth Ranch and Enterhealth Outpatient Center of Excellence can help you or a loved one begin recovery at our 43-acre residential Adderall addiction treatment program just north of Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas, and our outpatient Adderall addiction treatment program located in the Preston Center area of Dallas.

At Enterhealth, our goal is to treat the whole person for a lifetime. We offer a better chance to recover through our advanced, evidence-based treatment approach, designed and administered by board-certified addiction psychiatrists, physicians, and other experts, which is proven to be more effective than traditional twelve-step approaches.