Friday August 29th 2014

Dependence on Adderall

Are you worried about becoming dependent on Adderall?

Dependence on Adderall (amphetamine salts) can occur in the first few weeks after taking the ADHD medication. But does dependence mean that you could develop an Adderall addiction? How does Adderall affect the brain?  And is Adderall addictive physically or mentally?  In this article, we’ll explore the difference between dependence on Adderall and addiction, and we’ll also look at the strategies used to treat each. We invite your questions about Adderall at the end.

What is physical dependence on Adderall?

Dependence on Adderall is the physical need to take Adderall in order to feel normal. You can know if you’re dependent on Adderall or not by the presence or absence of withdrawal symptoms when you drastically lower Adderall doses or stop taking Adderall completely. If you have withdrawal symptoms, this means that you’ve become physically dependent on Adderall.

Adderall dependence time: How long to be dependent on Adderall?

Adderall, a combination of d-amphetamine and l-amphetamine salts, is extremely addictive. Some people may become addicted to Adderall within a matter of 2-3 weeks. But just because your body has become dependent on Adderall does not mean that you are an addict. However, you’re more likely to develop an addiction to Adderall if you’re taking Adderall in high doses or if you continue taking the ADHD medication for long periods of time.

Dependence on Adderall symptoms

Adderall dependence has a few main symptoms:

  1. unpleasant physical side effects when you haven’t taken Adderall
  2. feeling the need to take Adderall to feel “normal”
  3. taking higher doses of Adderall to experience the same effects

However, these symptoms don’t necessarily indicate an addiction to Adderall. Your body may simply be used to functioning with Adderall in your system.

Treating physical dependence on Adderall

Physical dependence on Adderall can be dangerous, as this drug can cause cardiovascular problems – but it can be difficult to stop taking Adderall abruptly, as well. If you want to stop taking Adderall, a doctor will need to work with you to create a tapered dosing schedule. This allows your body to slowly adjust to the lower levels of the drug, until you no longer need it in your system.

Adderall dependence withdrawal

Abrupt cessation of Adderall following prolonged high doses results in extreme fatigue and mental depression as well as sleep problems. Adderall withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • disturbed sleep patterns
  • fatigue
  • depression

Keep in mind that the best way to treat Adderall withdrawal is to gradually decrease the dose under the supervision of a medical professional until you can safely go off the medication. Withdrawal symptoms may last for days or weeks if you try to quit cold turkey.

Adderall dependence vs. addiction

When you’ve taken Adderall for a long period of time or at high doses, you may develop an addiction. While Adderall dependence keeps you from quitting the drug without withdrawal symptoms, Adderall addiction compels you to use the drug for effect. In fact, if you are an Adderall addict, you cannot think of life without Adderall.

So how do you know if you’re an Adderall addict or just drug dependent?

Psychological symptoms of craving and compulsive drug are present during addiction. Adderall addiction is more likely if you’re not taking Adderall as directed, or taking it without a prescription. Snorting or smoking Adderall also increases your addiction risk, as does taking large amounts of Adderall.

Treating psychological dependence on Adderall

Are there drug tests for Adderall?  Yes.  But Adderall addiction is more than a physical dependence. If you’re psychologically dependent on Adderall, you will:

  • feel the need to take Adderall to cope with normal situations
  • feel a compulsive need to use Adderall
  • experience strong Adderall cravings
  • continue to use Adderall even if it has negative consequences

If you have a psychological dependence on Adderall, simply reducing your dosage is unlikely to help you quit the medication.Your doctor may recommend a therapist specializing in addiction to help you reduce your use of Adderall. Some people also find support groups helpful in resisting the urge to take Adderall.

Adderall dependence questions

Do you still have questions about Adderall dependence and addiction? We invite you to leave us your questions about dependence on Adderall below. We welcome all questions and try to answer each one personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: DrugFacts: Stimulant ADHD Medications – Methylphenidate and Amphetamines
Nonmedical Use of Adderall Among Full-Time College Students
PubMed Health: Adderall
DailyMed: Adderall drug label
NIDA Drug Facts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction

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7 Responses to “Dependence on Adderall
Joseph
1:24 pm February 27th, 2013

First off I would like to say that I have never replied to a post even though I do read a lot of them on various topics and do have an input on the topic but I feel the need to reply to this one because I feel my situation is fairly serious. I have taken 10 mg of adderall once a day for the past 3 days and, I am not proud of this but, I am not taken it because it is prescribed to me by a doctor. I am not nor have I ever been addicted or taken any drugs and only drink socially and not much or often. I was introduced to the drug at work by a coworker because we had a long night ahead of us and didn’t think we could finish everything we had to get done with just the two of us. He has taken adderall before and thought this was a good opportunity to make good use of it because he said we would be more focused and get everything done that we needed to. I was very reluctant but after a little thought (and probably some peer pressure) I said ok and he had some within 30 minutes. We each took 10 mg and an hour later started feeling the effects. It worked as he described and how I’ve heard it described in the past. We were focused and got everything done which I thought to be impossible before taking the drug.

With that being said I’ve been suffering from what I believe to be mild depression even though I have not gone to a doctor for it and have not been treated. I have had ugly thoughts that are hard to me to talk about but they are thoughts nobody should have and I would wish upon no one. I also sleep a lot just so that I don’t have to be awake and think the things I do during the day. My outlook on life has just been down I guess is the best way to describe it. I am not happy with my life and I can’t get myself to change it, this is probably partly due to laziness although I don’t see myself as a lazy person.

Now onto my question or questions. Can adderall be prescribed for depression? I ask this because the past 3 days while on it have made me feel the best I’ve felt since my mid high school years. I don’t have those ugly thoughts anymore and I see life differently in a very good way. I’m happy and am now, even though it has only been 3 days, have been making changes to better my life. I’ve gotten the motivation I guess to look at colleges finally get out and spend time with friends and family (which before I would sit in my room for hours and hours on my laptop or just sleeping) and I’m finding small things that before I wanted to do because I felt it may help the depressed feeling. Since the drug, I feel, is helping me so immensely could I have add or adhd? Or is there something that works in the way it is working for me that another drug can more accurately pinpoint and help me with?

Just to clarify I am not proud of myself for taking this unprescribed and have mixed feelings about doing so. I am disappointed in myself for doing so because I know it is wrong and I am not the type of person to do something like this but on the other hand don’t I have the right to not be so disappointed because I am happy again like I was in my youth? The disappointment in myself, which I somewhat regret because of the mixed emotions, is, however, taking over and I cannot get myself to continue taking it to make myself happy because I know I shouldn’t without talking to a doctor first. Because of this I would love some input so I can have an outsiders opinion on everything I have discussed here. I apologize for the length of this but this is something very important to me and being happy and having the energy and focus to finally live life to the fullest and the best way I can is all I want. Thank you for reading this and again any input would be greatly appreciated.

Isma
6:13 pm May 4th, 2013

Joseph, I too, have gone through exactly what you describe in your post. I suffered severe clinical depression since the age of thirteen to the age of 18 and am now the best person I have ever been. Unlike you, though, I had substance abuse problems in the past which I have now eradicated completely by sheer will power -something I never had in the past- and by the grace of God. I overcame my obstacles by myself and then I found my faith. It might seem irrelevant, but it all goes hand in hand. I was recently prescribed adderall because I have mild ADD and it has worked wonders for me. Like you, I discovered it through a friend and decided to tell my doc about it and he decided to give me a low dose and I have kept it there because of the risk of addiction. I have been doing great on it and off of it. What I do is that I keep track of my state of mind while on it and try to assimilate that state while off of it and I have been pretty succesful at it. I overcame the depression thanks to a man who I literally owe my life to. He made me step outside of myself and realize that everything around me was good and the only thing keeping me in that hole was my mind. I never bothered to look up and realize that there was a way out of it. Everything around you is happening all at once. People are being born, dying, laughing, crying, there’s tornadoes, storms, fire, poverty, hunger, people falling in love, breaking up and many many other things. In the grand scheme of things the goings-on in our lives are petty in comparison to the grandeur of this school I call life. Whenever I see someone down I tell them this, “There’s air in your lungs, you have people to love and people that love you, smile.” God bless you and your endeavors Joseph, and I recommend you talk to your doc about what’s going on in your mind and tell him/her about your experience on the meds and he/she will know what’s best for you.

Lars
5:12 pm August 12th, 2013

Joseph, I think you’re ok. This post is far too late to actually help you but you’re probably fine.(unless you’re an amphetamine addict now, I doubt it)

Ben
6:19 pm August 22nd, 2013

As an adult taking low dose of Vyvanse or Concerta, if I get addicted and then go off of the medication, will I be dependent physically or will I be unable to perform mentally at the level that I could before medicating (kind of like taking steroids can permanently damage your hormones)

will the mental damage per permanent or just short term?

Thanks!

5:04 am August 23rd, 2013

Hi Ben. After acute withdrawal from physical dependence, you should be able to function as you did before taking the medication. Check in with your doctor about your concern about longer term effects. Little study has been done, but s/he may be able to point you in the right direction.

ArchAngel
9:11 pm November 14th, 2013

I realize this article was posted quite some time ago, but I truly hope this message is received and responded to. I’ve been taking Adderall XR 20 mg for the past eight or so years now (6’1, 185 pounds, 27 yr.) and it has been quite affective in my life. It’s given me the energy and focus required for me to finish earning my bachelor’s degree and lose 120 pounds (with exercise, i.e. I’ve NEVER abused the drug). After it’s effects wear off I experience apathy and other negative side-effects, and these feelings are beginning to really impact my self-confidence –as though it has been the medication that has accomplished so much and not myself. Thus, I’m considering stopping the dosing.

It’s safe to say that I’m an addict, most likely, and read in another article on this site that says the withdrawal effects can last through a series of months. If the dosages are tapered, should these effects last this long? The feelings of fatigue, weakness, and loss of general interest in things–how long should they last?

Other info:
I’m physically active (run 4-6 miles a day, lift weights 3 times a week)
I eat well (80% vege, 5% carbs, 15% protein [Supplement/White Meat/Fish])

1:31 pm November 15th, 2013

Hello Arch. It’s difficult to predict how withdrawal will affect you, as effects are individual. I’d suggest that you work with your prescribing doctor on a tapering and lifestyle plan, so that you minimize risk of relapse (especially if craving is present). Also, consider working with a psychologist. After many years on a psychoactive drug, withdrawal can be difficult and you’ll need all the support you can get. Protracted withdrawal symptoms can persist for 2-3 months after amphetamines are no longer in your system, so preparation and adjusted expectations are key. Best of luck to you!

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