How to Treat Adderall Addiction

If you ever wonder how today’s young adults are able to power through huge, demanding academic course loads while also being involved in multiple extracurricular activities, include a part-time job, look no further than Adderall, i.e., the “study drug.”  Not that all high achievers are dependent on using a stimulant to cope with huge demands on their time and intellect, but, unfortunately a very large number of students and young professionals do just that.

Adderall has become the favored amphetamine-based prescription drug out of a class of drugs developed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, beating out Ritalin and Vivitrol among young adults aged 18-25.  Concurrently, non-prescribed use of the drug increased by 67% between 2006-2011, and emergency room visits associated with Adderall increased a whopping 156%, according to research out of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

While an individual who uses Adderall to treat their ADHD or narcolepsy does not experience the effects of typical stimulants with the drug, the person who uses them for non-medicinal purposes does.  Bursts of energy, sharper concentration, and an ability to function with little sleep are the types of effects that the student values amidst the demands of college life, and Adderall delivers—initially.  Unfortunately, abuse of the drug can lead to dependency and multiple health risks. Learning how to treat Adderall addiction can benefit someone, or their loved one, who has found themselves with an Adderall dependency.

About Adderall

The stimulant, Adderall, composed of both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, is a prescription medication designed to treat individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.  It works by stimulating the central nervous system, resulting in an acceleration of certain bodily processes, affecting heart rate and blood pressure.

In a healthy individual, the drug acts similarly to methamphetamine, sharing many of that illicit drug’s features.  As a stimulant, that means it can cause an increase in focus and concentration, increased stamina and alertness, and improved confidence and empowerment.  The drug ends up in the hands of healthy individuals by being diverted from kids who have secured a prescription for the drug, and then sell or give the pills away.  The Internet, doctor shopping (feigning symptoms to get a prescription), and dealers on campus are other sources for obtaining the drug.

Signs of Adderall Abuse

In addition to the positive effects of the drug, there is a darker side to Adderall.  The early effects experienced become more elusive as tolerance to Adderall increases. This means that the individual needs to take higher and more frequent doses to achieve the same result.  As tolerance rises and dosing increases, the potential for addiction becomes real.

Signs of Adderall abuse may include:

  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Jittery
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarse voice
  • Decreased sex drive

Warning Signs of Adderall Addiction

There are certain signs that addiction is developing.  These are some of those common warning signs that indicate drug dependency is occurring:

  • Obsessing about obtaining and taking the drug
  • Drug-seeking behaviors, including doctor shopping, stealing the drug, buying it off the street or online
  • Isolating behaviors
  • Avoiding activities once enjoyed
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Intense cravings
  • Academic or work performance declines
  • Want to quit but can’t
  • Continue to take the drug regardless of negative consequences
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when drug is not available or when attempting to quit

When Adderall abuse continues and evolves into addiction, much more serious adverse effects can occur.  These may include:

  • Vision changes
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Weakness or numbness in legs or arms
  • Chest pain
  • Skin that is blistered or peeling
  • Hives or skin rash
  • Mania
  • Paranoia
  • Slowed speech
  • Seizures

Dangers of Adderall Overdose

Adderall overdose mimics that of cocaine or methamphetamine overdose and can have fatal consequences.  An Adderall overdose is considered a medical emergency, so immediate medical attention is required. Signs of Adderall overdose include:

  • Severe panic attack
  • Vertigo
  • Profound mental confusion
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart arrhythmia
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma

How to Treat Adderall Addiction

When an individual is exhibiting the signs of addiction and symptoms of Adderall abuse they need professional treatment from an addiction rehab program.  If the addiction is mild to moderate an outpatient program can be a good option, allowing the individual to continue to go to classes or engage at work while seeking help for the addiction.  

How to treat Adderall addiction will depend on certain factors, such as the history of the addiction (how long the individual has been abusing Adderall), the dosing and frequency of dosing, the overall health of the individual, and if there is a dual diagnosis (a co-occurring mental health disorder).  After a thorough assessment and intake interview, a customized treatment plan is created that will encompass several core treatment elements.

  • Detox
  • Individual talk therapy
  • Group therapy
  • 12-step recovery group
  • Classes that educate about how addiction happens and how to avoid relapse
  • Life skills classes
  • Relaxation techniques that also reduce stress
  • Medication management (if there is a dual diagnosis)

The primary goal during treatment for an Adderall addiction is to help the individual change their destructive behavioral reflex when confronted with stressors that can be part and parcel of college, work, and life.  

Phoenix Rising Addiction Center Understands How to Treat Adderall Addiction Effectively

Phoenix Rising is a leading outpatient addiction program serving South Orange County, California.  The treatment team at Phoenix Rising will arrange for the individual to receive a safe, medically monitored detox prior to beginning treatment, if the need for detox is indicated.  Following detox, the individual will participate in a wide array of life-changing therapies that will teach the client new ways to cope with stress and do change the addiction-driven behavioral response to stress-inducing triggers.  

Phoenix Rising offers both day and evening therapy offerings, helping to accommodate those in school or who work during daytime hours.  Sober living accommodations can also be arranged by the treatment team, which adds an additional layer of support during and after treatment.  For more information about how to treat Adderall addiction, please contact Phoenix Rising at (949) 518-0345.