The risk of Adderall dependence must be clearly understood by all users of this powerful stimulant medication.
Since is Adderall is made from amphetamines, it is classified as a Schedule II drug which are legally restricted due to the high potential for abuse and dependence.
For the sake of comparison, codeine, morphine, oxycode, hydrocodone, cocaine, and opium are also Schedule II drugs.
Dependence can be either physical or psychological.
Physical dependence occurs when the body has become accustomed to having a drug delivered each day and becomes reliant on the drug to function properly.
Physical dependency is typically preceded by increased tolerance, which occurs when the body becomes accustomed to the presence of Adderall over time and increasing amounts of the drug are required to derive the same benefits or effect.
Since Adderall affects the dopamine levels in the brain, abruptly stopping Adderall causes Dopamine levels to drop suddenly which can result in Adderall withdrawal.
Withdrawal occurs when the body attempts to adjust to drug cessation. Withdrawal symptoms can include physical and emotional “crashes”, depression, fatigue, agitation, insomnia, appetite changes, anxiety, sleep disturbances, etc.
Psychological dependence occurs when taking Adderall daily becomes such an ingrained pattern behavior that users think they need it to function normally. Users can become stressed, agitated, and even experience physical reactions (sweat, headaches, stomach aches, etc.) if the drug becomes unavailable.
The risk of tolerance and dependency is increased when drugs are abused and taken in larger than recommended doses for extended periods of time. Forms of Adderall abuse include crushing and swallowing or crushing and snorting the medication which releases the full effects of the drug at once.
Common treatment for Adderall dependence and withdrawal is to gradually reduce the dose over time (called tapering) in order to safely wean off the medication. This is done under the direct medical supervision of your doctor. Do not attempt to do this on your own.
While tolerance and dependence are different from drug abuse or addiction, they are often the first step on the road to abuse and addiction. Since drugs that produce tolerance and dependence also have the potential for addiction and abuse, one must be aware the risks and learn to identify the symptoms of abuse.
Common symptoms of dependence, abuse, and addiction are:
Increased Tolerance: You need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects you used to attain with smaller amounts.
Withdrawal symptoms. If you go too long without the drug, you
experience symptoms such as nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression,
sweating, shaking, and anxiety.
You take Adderall to reduce your withdrawal symptoms.
Loss of control of your drug use. You want to stop, but can’t.
Taking more Adderall than recommended; exceeding the dosage.
Crushing and consuming or snorting Adderall.
Illegally purchasing Adderall from friends or online without a prescription.
Faking ADHD symptoms in order to get an Adderall prescription.
Planning your day around your drug use. Spending time thinking about drugs, or procuring drugs, and planning recovery time after using drugs.
Using drugs rather than persue activities you previously found enjoyable.
Lack of interest in personal grooming.
Using Adderall for purposes other than it was intended: to cram for exams, stay up late, keep the party going, to treat social anxiety, etc.
Your Adderall use results in sudden mood swings, anger outbursts, personality changes, anxiety, paranoia, etc.
your use hinders your school or job attendance, causes money problems,
causes legal trouble, causes you to drop old friends in favor of drug
users, cost you a relationship, etc.
If your drug use causes you to engage in risk-taking or dangerous situations (driving while high, unprotected sex, fights, etc.)
You notice the following physical symptoms: hyperactivity, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, slurred speech, tremors or shakes, sudden weight changes, irritability, restlessness, etc.
People do not intend to become hooked on a drug; it sneaks up on them. Individual vulnerability to addiction differs due to various factors such as genetics, mental health history, social environment, stress tolerance, family history, etc.
If you exhibit the above symptoms, help is available. The first step is recognizing all of the negative consequences of your drug use, admitting the problem, and the desire to regain control of your life.
Recovery from drug abuse typically involves rehab, 12-step programs and/or therapy. First, it may be necessary to detox and taper your drug use safely under medical supervision before attending meetings and therapy.
Visit a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting in your area, and call the Substance Abuse helpline at 800-662-HELP for treatment options in your area.
Social support (family, friends, counselors, NA members, sponsors, church) are an important component of recovery. They can all help you make healthy choices and assist you in remaining drug-free.