Can you get addicted to Adderall?
Yes. You can get addicted to Adderall.
In fact, Adderall is classified as a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. Even more, Adderall has one of the highest potential for dependence or abuse of all prescription medications. Is Adderall the same as speed?
Here, we examine just what’s in Adderall that can get you addicted, what Adderall does to the brain, and who’s at risk of Adderall addiction. If you think that you may be addicted to Adderall, we invite you to leave your anonymous questions at the end. We answer all legitimate questions about Adderall use with a personal and prompt response.
Adderall chemistry and use
Adderall is a prescription used to treat attention deficit disorder and attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADD, AD/HD), narcolepsy, weight loss, and rarely, depression. But Adderall contains psychoactive ingredients that affect the brain. The effect of these psychoactive ingredients can lead to misuse, abuse, dependence and eventually addiction. What are these psychoactive ingredients in Adderall? Adderall contains a mix of amphetamine salts including Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine.
What does Adderall do in the body? Adderall and the brain
Adderall and the amphetamines contained in it work by increasing dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, movement, and attention. Epinephrine controls functions such as appetite, mood ,and fight/flight responses. And serotonin controls sleep and appetite.
Once in the nerve terminals, amphetamines promotes the release of these neurotransmitters. Normally these chemicals are recycled or reabsorbed into the nerve terminal to be used again when stimulated. However, amphetamine inhibits normal reuptake, causing neurotransmitters like dopamine to stay in the synapse longer, triggering a chemically induced euphoric effect, or “high”. This is why Adderall can make you feel so good, or contribute to extended anxiety, sleeplessness and paranoia.
Most doctors prescribe Adderall and increase doses of the drug over time. So as Adderall slowly and steadily increases dopamine in the brain over a period of weeks, the therapeutic effects can treat symptoms of hyperactivity disorders, sleep problems and even depression. But when Adderall is taken in doses and routes other than those prescribed, neurotransmitters enters the brain in a rapid and highly amplified manner. So, when taken non-medically, Adderall interrupts the normal communication between brain cells, and can produce euphoria, a deep sense of well-being. Recreationally, amphetamine can also be abused to increase alertness, relieve fatigue, control weight (Adderall for weight loss is not recommended), or treat mild depression.
How do you get addicted to Adderall?
There are a few ways that you can get addicted to Adderall. Generally, if you are getting high on Adderall and take it just to get high, you are at highest risk of being addicted to the amphetamines contained in Adderall. But for anyone, using Adderall recreationally, without a prescription, or outside of your doctor’s orders can lead to addiction. Technically, this kind of use is called “Adderall abuse”.
Although addiction liability is most high when you take a drug for effect or to get high, you can still get addicted to Adderall if you are taking it outside the recommendations of a doctor. Doctors need to monitor Adderall use to recommend dosage changes. And if you’re not getting the right doses, you may mistakenly become physically dependent on the drug, and perhaps even develop a psychological dependence, too.
What does it mean to be addicted to Adderall?
Addiction is a set of psychological symptoms characterized by three main signs:
1. loss of control of Adderall use
2. obsessive-compulsive seeking or thinking about Adderall
3. continued use of Adderall despite clearly negative consequences
Symptoms of Adderall addiction may also include specific physical signs of dependence such as increasing tolerance (the need for more Adderall to produce the same effect) or withdrawal signs and symptoms when you stop taking Adderall. However, the main characteristics of addiction are mental.
Are you addicted to Adderall?
Not sure if you are addicted to Adderall or not? Tell us about it. We can give you an honest and impartial opinion. If you are taking Adderall that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than prescribed, you may want to seek help for possible Adderall addiction. Please leave your questions about Adderall addiction treatment below. We will answer them as quickly as possible to get you the help that you need.
Reference sources: Susbstance Abuse Advisory: Prescription Medications: Misuse, Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction
FDA medication guide for Adderall XR
NIDA drugs of abuse prescription medications information
National Survey on Drug Use and Health Report: Nonmedical Use of Adderall among Full-Time College Students
Methamphetamine use: lessons learned
Photo credit: ChelseaM.