What Adderall is Used for | What is Adderall Used for Besides ADHD?
If you’ve heard of it, but you’re not extremely familiar with the drug, you may wonder what is Adderall used for.
The following is an overview of what it is and what Adderall is used for.
First, Adderall is a combination drug that includes amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. When someone takes it, it acts as a stimulant on their brain and central nervous system, and it changes the chemistry of the brain. In particular, Adderall affects the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.
It’s available only by prescription, and it can be used to treat two primary conditions in adults and children. These conditions are attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD and narcolepsy, which is a sleep disorder where a person falls asleep at strange times and in particular during the day. These are what Adderall is approved by the FDA to treat, and while Adderall does require a prescription, it’s frequently abused and used illegally by people who purchase it on the streets.
Adderall is available in immediate-release and extended-release versions, and varying dosage amounts. When a physician prescribes it for ADHD or narcolepsy, they will usually start with a small dose, and then increase it incrementally to achieve the desired results.
When someone takes Adderall for ADHD, and they really do have the condition, it helps them focus, concentrate and control their behaviors. It can have a calming effect on someone with ADHD, but if someone doesn’t have this condition, it can have the opposite effect.
For people without ADHD who abuse Adderall, it can make them feel high. Being high on Adderall can feel euphoric, and it can boost energy, self-confidence, and concentration. There are also negative side effects of using Adderall when you aren’t prescribed it, including anxiety, nervousness, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, and even psychosis in some people.
ADHD is a condition that can occur in both children and adults, and it’s believed that anywhere between 4 and 5 percent of U.S. adults have it, although not many get diagnosed. Many children who are diagnosed with ADHD also go on to continue having it as adults.
Some of the symptoms Adderall is used for in adults with ADHD include problems organizing and finishing tasks, concentration and memory problems, and difficulty following directions. There are also many associated complications of untreated ADHD in adults such as anxiety, forgetfulness, depression, anger and impulsivity problems, low self-esteem, mood swings and relationship problems.
In children, some of the common ADHD symptoms include high activity levels, short attention spans, and difficulty sitting still.
While many adults who truly have ADHD don’t realize it or don’t receive treatment, there’s a whole other segment of the population that’s started faking symptoms of the disorder in order to get Adderall.
A study in The Clinical Neuropsychologist showed that frequently people were either faking or exaggerating symptoms to get a diagnosis and a prescription for Adderall. Researchers working on the study said that there are cultural pressures leading adults to want to get these drugs, even when they don’t really have ADHD, as people are competing to be accomplished in their careers and their lives.
The only other FDA-approved use for Adderall is the treatment of narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder where the person has excessive sleepiness as well as possible other symptoms like hallucinations, sleep paralysis, and loss of muscle control. Someone with narcolepsy usually feels very sleepy during the day, and they may involuntarily fall asleep at odd times. Adderall can help increase their wakefulness since it’s a stimulant.
There are other off-label reasons a doctor might prescribe Adderall aside from ADHD, such as to help with treatment-resistant depression, but the FDA doesn’t approve these uses.
Another thing to consider when asking “what is Adderall used for besides ADHD” is the fact that it’s frequently abused. It’s one of the most widely abused prescription drugs in the U.S, and as was touched on above, it’s often abused to help people study, accomplish more, or even to make them feel more sociable.
It’s not uncommon on campuses across the U.S. for students to use Adderall around exam time or to perform well in school, and young professionals may do the same thing as they work to get ahead in their careers. It’s also sometimes used illicitly to help people lose weight because it’s an appetite suppressant.
To sum up, what is Adderall used for besides ADHD? Officially only narcolepsy, but doctors may prescribe it for other off-label uses, and people may abuse it for other reasons as well.
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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