Is Adderall Safe? | Safe for Adults and Children?
Is Adderall safe? This is such a common question people have, and it’s a legitimate one. Adderall is one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S., and it’s often given to children, which leaves parents wondering whether or not there are risks associated with its use.
Adderall is also a controlled substance, which means it’s regulated by the federal government because it has a high potential for abuse, addiction and physical dependence.
At the same time, many adults and children rely on Adderall to treat the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy.
Adderall is a prescription stimulant that affects specific brain neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. In someone with ADHD who takes it, whether they’re an adult or a child, it tends to have somewhat of a calming effect. It can help them sit still for longer, concentrate and focus, and better self-regulate their behavior.
If someone doesn’t have ADHD and they take Adderall the effects are different. A person will feel energized and even euphoric, particularly when higher doses are taken. A person without ADHD may experience feelings of increased self-confidence, optimism and productivity.
There are real advantages to Adderall, and it’s more often prescribed to children than adults. When children are properly medicated with Adderall, it can help them perform better in school, and it is valuable in that sense.
At the same time, there are risks to the use of Adderall that should be considered.
Is Adderall safe? This is detailed below.
There is somewhat of a debate in the medical world when doctors are answering parents who say “is Adderall safe for my child.”
A recently released study found that there was no increased risk of cardiovascular issues in children who took stimulant-based medications to treat ADHD, but not everyone is fully convinced of this. There have been some doctors who have come out and said that there are serious risks of Adderall use in children, particularly related to how the drug increases blood pressure and heart rate.
Doctors warn parents that they should be cautious when it comes to the use of Adderall.
The objective when a doctor is prescribing it to a child is to use the smallest effective dose and to use it for the shortest period possible.
Parents who are wondering “is Adderall safe for my child,” can also speak to their child’s healthcare provider about possible non-stimulant drugs that could be helpful to treat ADHD such as Strattera.
A doctor’s goal, as was touched on above, is always to start a patient out whether they’re an adult or child with the smallest dose possible, and then increase it slowly to the point of desired results. The maximum daily dose of Adderall that should be taken in adults in 70 mg/day and 40/mg a day in children, but ideally intake levels should be lower than this.
Some of the risks of Adderall use can include raised blood pressure and heart rate, stroke and cardiovascular events, changes in mood, hallucinations, and psychosis, among others. These severe side effects are rare, but possible and more likely if you take the drug without a prescription, abuse it, or use it with other substances.
When someone takes Adderall as prescribed, the doctor has taken into considerations their individual health and other factors that help them determine the safest effective dose possible.
This is because there are risks of Adderall use in the long-term, although they’re more significant in people who abuse it or take very large doses over long periods of time.
First, building a tolerance to Adderall can occur pretty quickly. This means people will need higher doses to get the same effect, or they may get no effect from the drug at all over time. People can also develop a physical dependence to Adderall, meaning they can’t feel normal without it, and if they stop using it suddenly, they go through withdrawal.
When someone takes a stimulant drug like Adderall, it changes their brain chemistry, and it also impacts their motivation and reward pathways. This changes how people feel emotions and pleasure, and if Adderall is taken over the long-term, these changes and this brain rewiring can become permanent.
For long-term Adderall abusers, mood problems may be particularly pertinent, especially when they stop taking the drug. Symptoms of long-term Adderall abuse can include psychosis, paranoia, hallucinations and a range of other mood-related disturbances. Long-term Adderall use may also trigger anxiety and panic attacks.
Regarding physical effects of long-term Adderall use, these can include heart disease, seizures, and strokes in heavy users. Over time Adderall might cause damage to the heart and cardiovascular system, especially when large amounts are abused.
To sum up, is Adderall safe? It can be, under the careful supervision of a doctor and generally for shorter-term use. Is Adderall safe long-term? Probably not, and especially not at high doses.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.
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