Although most people who misuse Adderall (Amphetamine, Dextroamphetamine Mixed Salts) try to hide their drug habit, there are many signs of Adderall abuse and addiction that could give them away. These signs can range from changes in their mood and behavior to the loss of a job or destroyed relationships. These signs all point to one thing – Adderall abuse. Addiction is a threat to a person’s health and happiness and drug treatment is needed as soon as possible.
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Signs of Adderall Abuse
Sometimes it can be difficult for abusers to admit that they have a problem. But admission isn’t always necessary — in many cases, you may be able to tell if a loved one is abusing or addicted to Adderall because they exhibit some of the distinct physical and psychological signs.
If you suspect a loved one is abusing Adderall, you may notice these signs:
- Weight loss
- Incomplete thoughts
- Aggressive behavior, such as violent outbursts or risk-taking
- Relationship problems
- Missed days at school or work
- Financial problems
- A decline in personal hygiene
- Frequently taking pills
- Hiding or sneaking taking pills
- Lack of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Upset stomach
- Pounding heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
- Reduced sex drive
- Peeling skin
- Extremely fast or slowed speech
- Chest pain
Misuse becomes an addiction when the abuser is physically or psychologically dependent on Adderall. It may be easiest to tell if you or a loved one is addicted to Adderall by looking for signs of withdrawal.
Short-term Adderall Side Effects
Adderall is prescribed for people to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, but many people use it without a prescription, due to the desired effects. As with every other drug, Adderall can also cause several negative side effects, both for prescription and non-prescription users. It’s important to know what these side effects are, for your protection. And of course, it’s best to take it only with a prescription and only in the prescribed dosage.
Positive Side Effects for Prescribed Usage
Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, both of which are central nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in the brain. They also affect nerves that relate to impulse control and hyperactivity. This is why this medication is used to help people who have trouble focusing and sleeping. Those who take prescribed Adderall can experience the following benefits:
- Increased focus and concentration
- Increased mood level
- Increased alertness and cognitive function
- Ability to function with clarity
- Reduction of hyperactivity
- Decreased exhaustion
Negative Side Effects
Adderall can result in various undesired effects as well, but many of these can be avoided if it is taken exactly as prescribed. Be sure to inform your doctor if you have high blood pressure, glaucoma, heart disease, an overactive thyroid, or any other health condition that could be affected by medication.
It’s also important to let your doctor know if you have a history of drug or alcohol addiction before taking Adderall. If you have any questions or concerns about the following negative Adderall side effects, contact your health care provider:
- Circulatory issues (including finger numbness and discoloration)
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Stomach ache
- Back pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Sleeping difficulties
- Mood swings
- Dry mouth
Adderall, a DEA Schedule II substance, is especially susceptible to abuse. The body adjusts to Adderall’s properties and often develops a need for more medication for the same “benefits” to be actualized. This can result in dependency. If the dependency continues, and the person tries to stop taking the drug, withdrawal can ensue. An addiction that develops into dependency can also lead to withdrawal and can manifest more negative side effects: disorientation, insomnia, fatigue, irritability, panic attacks, urinary tract infections, and abdominal pain, among other effects.
Long-term Adderall Side Effects
Although it’s not as common, Adderall misuse can also result in several long-term effects, and many of the effects can be serious and require medical attention. The following are some of the long-term negative Adderall side effects on the brain and body.
Adderall Effects on the Brain
Adderall can affect a person’s cognitive function. Since Adderall increases the levels of dopamine and other neurotransmitters into the brain, overstimulation can occur. This usually is not the case with people who have received a prescription for the medication because, if they have ADHD, their brain already has decreased levels of such neurotransmitters. However, if a person has normal levels, this increase in neurotransmitters can lead to psychological disturbances.
These effects may include, but are not limited to:
- Hearing voices
People commonly question Adderall’s implications in two additional psychological areas: personality and depression.
Adderall and Personality
Adderall may cause great mood swings, to the point that a person can seem to have an altered personality or presents like they have bipolar disorder. Additionally, other research puts forward that a link exists between Adderall and schizophrenia. Others suggest that the drug increases hostility. Moreover, obsessive-compulsive and related disorders have been seen as amphetamine-induced.
Adderall and Depression
Many wonder about how Adderall is linked to depression. Some believe that it is prescribed when the person should really be treated for an underlying depressive disorder, or that the use of Adderall in cases of depression should be treated differently than it is currently handled. However, others suggest that depression may be a long-term effect of Adderall use. Indeed, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) includes depression in its list of amphetamine-related psychiatric disorders by listing “amphetamine-induced depressive disorder.”
Adderall Effects on the Body
Adderall doesn’t just affect a person psychologically and with short-term physical effects; it can also harm the body in the long run. Some of the effects associated with Adderall may include but are not limited to:
- Slowed growth in children
- Cardiac arrest
- Irregular heartbeat
- Cardiac dysrhythmias
- Necrotizing vasculitis
- Sudden death
In addition, the medication may result in increased core temperatures, which can lead to heart injury. Further, because of the stimulant’s properties, fatigue can be masked when people exercise. This can lead the body to maintain elevated temperatures and exogenous heat stress for an abnormally long time.
Truly, Adderall isn’t just a drug used to benefit those with ADHD. In fact, it’s being used by many people, people without dopamine-deficiency for its stimulating properties. Although these people may think they are benefiting, they are often being over-stimulated through the neurotransmitters’ lasting effects. They are being influenced in the short-term and in the long-term, both psychologically and physically. If used incorrectly, Adderall may not be effective, and it can negatively affect the lives of many.
Staging an Intervention
Sometimes addicts are so ingrained in their love of Adderall or are so ashamed of it, that they refuse to acknowledge that they have a drug problem. In this case, you may want to learn how to stage an intervention so you can show your loved one how much you and their other family members and friends are worried about them and encourage them to tackle the issue.
Interventions can be used to address a multitude of issues, including drug misuse. During a drug intervention, a trained interventionist will lead a discussion with the addict and any number of their friends or family members. The purpose of the intervention is to tell the addict how much these people love and care for them, and how worried they are for their health.
The interventionist’s role is crucial, as they may help you communicate your feelings calmly and guide the meeting towards a resolution — getting your loved one into drug rehabilitation.
Amphetamines.com. “5 Most Common Adderall Addiction Signs.” Amphetamines.com, amphetamines.com/types/adderall/5-common-adderall-addiction-signs/. Accessed July 14, 2020.
Stephen, R. “Chapter 53.Substance Abuse and Mental Illness.” 2014, December. Accessed July 14, 2020.
Barnhorst, A., MD. “Amphetamine-Related Psychiatric Disorders.” 2020, March 26. Accessed July 14, 2020.
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.