Adderall Abuse: The Warning Signs

Adderall is prescription amphetamine and can be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Many young people and ambitious professionals use the drug as a study or work aid to help concentrate and boost productivity. The fact that Adderall is not a street drug and is prescribed by doctors ostensibly as a remedy for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) gives it a thin veneer of safety.

Someone might look at the fact that a friend aced an exam after studying late at night amped up by the drug. Hey, it’s medicine; it can’t hurt me.

The Pill & The Damage Done

As Adderall consumption and damage has mounted, it is time to view it as a controlled substance that is addictive and dangerous. From 2002 to 2012, prescriptions for Adderall increased five fold.

Overdoses are on the rise. In 2011, there were more than 22,000 emergency room visits in the United States related to Adderall abuse. In 2012, Adderall caused at least one death every day in the United States, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). That’s 365 deaths from Adderall overdose in just one year!

How did we get here?

Adderall History

Adderall is a drug prescribed as an ADHD medication, but it has been used as a way to increase productivity and cope with lack of sleep. It was first invented in the 1950s by Shire Pharmaceutical Group who were trying to develop medications for gastric ulcers when researchers found that Adderall had similar helpful effects on those suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder.

Young adults started using the pills illegally because they noticed students taking them before exams, so they can stay up longer studying or doing homework.

Adderall Red Flags

What are the warning signs of Adderall abuse?

Here are a few:

  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Feeling agitated or nervous
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Experiencing heart palpitations or chest pain
  • Developing a tolerance to the drug and needing more and more to get wired
  • Becoming secretive and withdrawing from friends and family
  • Lying about Adderall use or where money is coming from to buy it.

Other effects of the drug include:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Shaking, trembling, or increased heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Hallucinations/delusions

Physical Dependence on Adderall

The drug is especially dangerous when people snort or shoot the medication because it can lead to overdose and death.

A person who has been addicted to Adderall for an extended period will likely have developed physical dependence on the drug as well. If you snort it, you can destroy your sinus cavity. Injecting it can heighten the effects, causing blood pressure to spike and resulting in potential heat stroke and cardiac arrest.

When people stop using it after regularly taking high doses for an extended period of time, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, headaches/migraines, tiredness and extreme cravings. If you see these kinds of behaviors from an addiction, there might  be an overdose or physical dependence on the drug.

Adderall Treatment

If you believe someone you know is abusing Adderall, it’s important to take action. The first step is to stage an intervention. This is a conversation in which you confront the person about their addiction and try to get them to agree to seek treatment.

There are many different types of rehab centers. Most provide detox, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and 12-step programs. Detox can help rid the body of the drugs while CBT helps addicts learn how to cope with triggers and resist cravings. 12-step programs offer support from others who have been through addiction recovery. These programs can be very helpful for addicts who are trying to stay sober.

Seek Help if Adderall Use Is Becoming Problematic

Meth is a street drug and connotes a different type of user than a studious college kid trying to get a good grade or a hard-charging lawyer needing a “pick me up” when finishing a critical brief late at night.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Adderall, click or tap HERE for more information on how to escape the sharp teeth of a seemingly benign pill.


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