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Adderall — or, as it is known by in pharmaceutical terms, amphetamine-dextroamphetamine — has long been used to help individuals suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy, but recently, the prescription drug has developed another reputation: a way for students and workers to attempt to increase their ability to focus on their tasks at hand. Unfortunately, the number of people who have misused Adderall continues to rise, leading to some serious risks and side effects that accompany the development of dependence and substance use disorders.This is a problem for many reasons: Not only are there countless misconceptions about Adderall usage that continue to promote its misuse, but there are also all kinds of immediate and long-term risks associated with the development of a dependence on the substance.

For this reason, it’s important to understand the ways Adderall can be misused, the reasons why there is such a prevalence of Adderall addiction in college students and what the risks of substance use disorders are in relation to Adderall dependence and addiction..Thankfully, there is a way to treat Adderall dependence and avoid the immediate and long-term risks that accompany Adderall addiction. There are also solutions for those who seek healthy, risk-free ways to increase their ability to focus without all the dangers associated with Adderall misuse. Simply read on to find out more about the severity of Adderall dependence how to seek treatment for it.

Adderall and the Development of Dependence and Substance Use Disorders

The discussion of Adderall and the development of substance use disorders raises some very reasonable questions. If there is such an extreme risk of Adderall dependence, then why do doctors prescribe it in the first place? How can it be misused, and what are the signs of Adderall misuse? These questions are extremely valid, and as it turns out, they also have clear-cut and rational answers.

Why Is Adderall Prescribed?

Adderall is typically prescribed in one of two forms: Adderall IR, which is an immediate-release version, and Adderall XR, which is an extended-release version. As you might be able to assume based on the way the amphetamine-dextroamphetamine is released in these two forms, the effects of Adderall will depend on the way it’s taken. For instance, Adderall IR’s effects last anywhere from four to six hours and is usually taken multiple times a day, while Adderall XR is taken just once daily and lasts anywhere between 10 and 12 hours. Physicians will prescribe Adderall to help patients manage their ADHD because it’s a short-acting amphetamine that helps those who struggle to focus by maintaining dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. These two chemicals are integral to our ability to focus. More specifically, dopamine works to help executive function, motor skills and reinforcement and reward tendencies — all skills that define our behavior and our ability to do tasks. Norepinephrine, on the other hand, aids the adrenaline in the brain to raise the heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar to help increase energy, alertness and memory function.Adderall also has proven to be effective in treating narcolepsy because of its ability to improve alertness, reduce feelings of tiredness or fatigue and increase energy and alertness. With that being said, it’s worth reiterating that ADHD remains the principal thing doctors prescribe Adderall for.

How Is Adderall Misused?

Regardless of whether it’s immediate release or extended release, all versions of Adderall are considered controlled substances by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Beyond this, the DEA classifies Adderall as a Schedule II controlled substance. To be clear, this is the highest classification the DEA can grant physician-prescribed medications in the United States. This severe classification gives you a great idea of just how concerned the federal government is about Adderall dependence and addiction.Numbers from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration1 further support the evidence of Adderall misuse in America. According to SAMHSA, it’s estimated that 11.3 million people above the age of 12 were using amphetamine products like Adderall in 2015. Of those 11.3 million, it’s estimated that 4.8 million were misusing these products. It’s estimated that those numbers increased exponentially just one year later, with 12 million people using amphetamine products in 2016 and 5.1 million misusing them. These estimates serve as proof of a very serious and very real problem with Adderall misuse in the United States.Because Adderall is prescribed to patients diagnosed with ADHD or narcolepsy to increase the body’s natural ability to focus and stay awake, it’s clear to see why those outside of these diagnoses might be drawn to amphetamine-dextroamphetamine. However, if a person takes Adderall without an ADHD or a narcolepsy diagnosis, they run the risk of developing a substance use disorder incredibly quickly. Not only this, but they can also develop a tolerance to the effects of Adderall in a very short period of time. This is just one of many reasons why misuse of Adderall can be detrimental to the body and the mind: If a person isn’t struggling with ADHD, they should not interfere with their body’s natural ability to focus and stay alert. The results of Adderall misuse are far more harmful than helpful.

Signs of a Substance Use Disorder

While some who suffer from a substance use disorder do so in relative silence, there are often plenty of ways people can recognize the signs of drug misuse. Adderall addiction is no exception. If you fear you or someone you know or love has developed a substance use disorder, there are some key signs and symptoms you can look for. First and foremost, the largest clue that someone is suffering from a substance use disorder is that they regularly use Adderall without having a medical reason to. Beyond this, the person will show signs of serious struggle or distress if they go without the use of Adderall. It’s very easy to begin to develop a tolerance to amphetamine-dextroamphetamine, which means it’s just as easy to experience withdrawal when someone with an addiction goes without it.This leads directly into another sign of a substance use disorder, which comes as a result of tolerance and withdrawal. If a person continues to use Adderall despite it negatively impacting multiple areas of their personal or professional life — such as work, school, relationships, or physical or mental health — then a substance use disorder is very possibly the cause. Not to mention, if a person takes an abnormal amount of Adderall, a substance use disorder is undoubtedly a probable cause.

The Prevalence of Adderall Addiction in College Students

Because of amphetamine-dextroamphetamine’s reputation for helping individuals with ADHD or narcolepsy stay focused, alert and awake, Adderall has become one of many stimulants being abused by a significant number of college students in America. Research indicates2 that as many as one in four college students have misused ADHD medication without a proper diagnosis in an attempt to use the drugs as study aids. This is an enormous figure, one that should be taken with the utmost seriousness.When Adderall is misused by college students in this way, tolerance to amphetamine-dextroamphetamine builds up much more quickly than when used by individuals taking the drug for medicinal purposes. As such, college students soon find themselves taking far more Adderall than any doctor would prescribe in order to feel the effects. Not only does this help foster an addiction to Adderall, it also leads to significant withdrawal symptoms whenever the college students suddenly stop taking the drug when it’s no longer needed.Adderall addiction in college students is especially prevalent3 in members of fraternities and sororities as well as in students who are enrolled in extremely competitive educational programs or fields. What’s more, college students with Adderall addictions ultimately earn much lower grades than their fellow students who aren’t misusing Adderall. This is the direct opposite effect those individuals misusing Adderall are hoping to achieve. What’s the meaning behind these misconceptions about Adderall that prevail throughout college campuses, and how can individuals increase focus naturally without misusing Adderall?

Misconceptions About Adderall

One of the core misconceptions about Adderall is that it makes the user smarter. In truth, this isn’t the case at all. While Adderall increases focus, it doesn’t increase learning. This is because the brain works like a muscle, and muscles need exercising. The same goes for the mind: to truly learn and become smarter, you must do more than just focus. You have to use techniques like repetition, practice and cognition in order to learn something. Adderall might help a person focus, but it doesn’t make them learn.Another misconception about Adderall is that it’s equivalent to a supplement or a vitamin that can help the brain. In reality, Adderall chemically alters the brain in ways that a natural supplement or vitamin does not. While this chemical change helps individuals with ADHD or narcolepsy who need it, it can result in serious damage for those who don’t.These two misconceptions are the driving force for Adderall misuse on college campuses across the country, and it’s important to set the record straight. If you wish to use a study aid, don’t resort to Adderall misuse — there are plenty of ways to increase focus without the use of Adderall.

Increasing Focus Without the Use of Adderall

As it turns out, increasing focus without the use of Adderall simply involves increasing mindful habits. Activities such as getting more exercise, practicing meditation, reducing distractions like cell phones or television and utilizing study hacks like flashcards or review games can help you to increase your body’s natural ability to focus exponentially without having to resort to the misuse of Adderall. Additionally, making sure you get the proper amount of sleep and eat nutritional meals at the appropriate times of the day can also help aid in your body’s natural ability to stay awake and alert.

Risks Associated With Adderall Addiction

If it hasn’t been made clear by now, the risk of Adderall dependence is extremely serious and should not be taken lightly. The immediate risks associated with Adderall addiction can vary from:

Short-term issues

  • Appetite loss
  • Problems with digestion including nausea and constipation
  • Extreme restlessness and lack of sleep
  • Heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Extreme mood changes, including anxiety, anger, irritability and apathy
  • Severe headaches or migraines

Long-term issues

  • Cardiovascular problems as a result of increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts as a result of the misfiring of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine
  • The development of seizures, psychosis, or emotional control issues because of chemical imbalances from Adderall misuse
  • Addition and withdrawal symptoms
  • Other potential long-term issues that aren’t even fully known yet

Warning Signs of Adderall Dependence

If you worry that you or someone you know is suffering from Adderall dependence, there are some helpful warning signs you can look for. These include:

  • Being more talkative or energetic than usual
  • Sudden or uncharacteristic loss of appetite
  • Unusual excitability or irritability
  • Unexplained withdrawal from social situations
  • Sudden financial struggles or debt
  • Aggressive behavior or actions
  • Unreasonably long periods of sleep
  • Unexplainable secretive or sneaky behavior
  • Extreme exhaustion or fatigue
  • Excessive and unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of short- or long-term memories
  • Inability to finish a thought
  • Problems in personal, professional, or familial relationships
  • Notable decline in personal hygiene
  • Massive consumption of pills or running out of prescriptions early
  • Working or studying for far longer than normal
  • Disorientation or mania
  • Impulsive or irrational behavior

The Bottom Line: Seeking Treatment for Adderall Dependence

There’s no denying that it can be incredibly difficult to muster up the strength to seek treatment for a substance use disorder, especially when it comes to Adderall. Given its seriously addictive nature and its classification as a DEA Schedule II stimulant, it can be especially hard to take the steps necessary to ask for treatment. It’s perfectly normal to find it hard to quit. Thankfully, there are people and places that exist solely to help individuals with substance use disorders find treatment. Windward Way Recovery is one such place.

How Windward Way Recovery Can Help

While Adderall dependence is a very serious thing, there are real, attainable solutions for those who wish to seek treatment for an addiction to amphetamine-dextroamphetamine. If you feel that you — or someone you know, maybe even a friend or family member — might be in need of treatment, look no further than Windward Way Recovery.Windward Way Recovery is proud to offer a free clinical assessment to anyone who seeks it. Afterwards, you or the person you know will be given the opportunity to speak to a dedicated admissions coordinator to discuss treatment options. From there, there is no obligation whatsoever to actually enter a treatment center — the choice is in your hands the entire time, from start to finish.The central belief at Windward Way Recovery is ensuring comprehensive and customizable addiction recovery treatment plans for all patients. This includes the use of evidence-based and holistic therapies conducted via small, intimate group settings that maintain the right level of acceptance and privacy.Additionally, Windward Way Recovery treatment center is a dual-diagnosis facility which means that treatment of alcohol or drug addiction goes hand-in-hand with the addressing of any underlying mental health issues that may have developed as a result of a substance use disorder, including anxiety, depression, trauma and more.For more information about seeking treatment for Adderall dependence and addiction, contact Windward Way Recovery today. Call anytime, day or night, to speak with someone who can help you find the treatment you need. You can also chat with Windward Way Recovery 24/7, reach out via email, or even conduct a 15-minute assessment over the phone at (855) 491-7694.

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