For people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Adderall can be beneficial to help them manage their symptoms. But when Adderall isn’t used as prescribed by a physician, it can result in Adderall induced psychosis.
People with ADHD have lower levels of dopamine in their brain, and these low levels mean their brain could seek stimulation. Adderall releases dopamine and other neurotransmitters, stimulating the central nervous system. When someone without ADHD takes Adderall, natural dopamine levels can increase to exceed an average level and cause feelings of euphoria and anxiety.
A study in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) found that “…amphetamine-related psychiatric disorders are conditions resulting from intoxication or long-term use of amphetamines or amphetamine derivatives. Such disorders can also be experienced during the withdrawal period from amphetamines.”
Amphetamines can cause or be associated with the recurrence of psychiatric disorders. People who become dependent on amphetamines sometimes decrease their usage after experiencing side effects like paranoia and hallucinations. Some people may experience symptoms during withdrawal as well as during sustained use.
Living with psychosis by itself can be challenging for people to maintain a daily routine. When someone has an Adderall use disorder, it can cause serious problems. These problems may include suicide, an increased risk of violence, a higher chance of being involved in criminal activity and poor reception to treatment programs. Unfortunately, people with psychosis or people who have a genetic predisposition of psychosis are at a higher risk of developing substance use disorders.
In addition to the behavioral problems that someone with psychosis and a substance use disorder experience, the person is often in poor physical health. People with psychosis are at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases. Taking Adderall can cause heart problems to develop. Mortality rates are higher in people with psychosis because of their poor overall health and the increased risk of suicide.
Taking Adderall to treat symptoms of psychosis can often make their symptoms worse.
Research suggested that the reason amphetamines, such as Adderall, may cause psychosis is because as a stimulant, amphetamines typically cause sleep problems or disorders for people who take them. The sleep deprivation that comes as a side effect of taking Adderall can be responsible for the onset of psychotic symptoms.
The difference between a psychosis disorder and a substance-induced psychotic disorder is that the psychotic symptoms emerged after someone was using a drug. The presentation of symptoms is slightly different in Adderall psychosis compared to primary psychosis. Researchers suggest that a primary psychotic disorder and a substance-induced psychosis disorder shouldn’t necessarily be considered two separate conditions but are recognized as two disorders that are closely associated. People who develop Adderall psychosis should be monitored closely. Further use of Adderall or any other type of stimulant is discouraged. Adderall psychosis can typically be resolved with abstinence from the substance.
- Lack of concentration
- Increased motor activity
- Disorganized thoughts
- Violent behavior
- Socially withdrawn
- Extremely cautious
- Defensive attitude
- Inability to relax
Fortunately, if someone develops Adderall paranoia, the disorder will typically resolve itself within a few days after the person stops taking the drug.
Treatment for co-occurring disorders may consist of a combination of therapy and medications. Depending on the treatment facility, the patient may be required to engage in individual therapy, group therapy or both. Most facilities may only offer medications for a patient’s mental health disorder and for their addiction. Fortunately, there are facilities across the country that can design individualized treatment plans for patients so that their treatment is effective.
If you use Adderall and want to learn more about your substance use behaviors, take The Recovery Village®’s self-assessment. This quiz can help you recognize the presence of an Adderall addiction or dependence.
- Frequent Adderall use over a long period can cause what is referred to as substance-induced psychosis
- Although Adderall is approved for use by the FDA, it is classified by the DEA in the same category as drugs like cocaine and oxycodone.
- There is a possibility of developing Adderall psychosis or triggering the onset of a psychotic disorder
- Adderall psychosis typically resolves in a few days but it can last for years, in which case, a person may have a primary psychosis disorder.
- If someone has an Adderall use and psychotic disorder, it’s recommended that they seek treatment for both disorders because only treating one isn’t usually effective.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an Adderall use or co-occurring disorder like psychosis, help is available. At The Recovery Village®, a team of professionals can create an individualized treatment plan to suit your needs. Call and speak with a representative to learn more about which program could work for you.
National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (UK). “Psychosis with Coexisting Substance Misuse”. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, 2011. November 28th, 2018.
Regier Darrel A., MD, MPH; Mary E. Farmer, MD, MPH; Donald S. Rae, MS; et al. “Comorbidity of mental disorders with alcohol and other drug abuse. Results from the Epidemiologic Catchment Area (ECA) Study”.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed, November 20th, 1991. November 28th, 2018.
Wade, D. “Substance misuse in first-episode psychosis: 15-month prospective follow-up study”. Cambridge University Press, September 2006. November 28th, 2018.