What Are the Long-term Effects of Adderall Use?
Adderall can be helpful for certain medical conditions, but it can be addictive and destructive if used incorrectly or irresponsibly. Over time, if the drug is repeatedly abused, addiction may eventually develop, along with a host of physical and mental health problems that can be disabling and possibly put the user’s life at risk. Anytime Adderall addiction is suspected, diagnosis and treatment should be sought immediately, to prevent consumption from escalating to the point where its negative effects become irreversible.
As the preferred choice for treating attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, Adderall is the most widely prescribed amphetamine in the United States.
Approximately 16 million prescriptions for this central nervous system stimulant are written each year, and unfortunately the easy availability of the drug has fueled a dramatic rise in rates of Adderall abuse.
The short-term consequences of Adderall abuse and dependency are serious, but the long-term effects can be even more dangerous and debilitating, especially for users who don’t seek help once addiction is suspected.
Adderall Abuse Among Youth
Because of its capacity to boost energy, increase focus, and improve stamina, Adderall has gained a reputation for usefulness as a study aid.
While Adderall consumption won’t lead to better intellectual performance, it can help young people maintain their motivation, concentration, and ability to process information even after many hours of work or study. Adderall can alleviate both physical and mental fatigue, and is frequently used by students who need cram for exams or stay up late to finish term papers.
As a consequence of this behavior, Adderall abuse and addiction on college campuses is rapidly expanding and may soon approach epidemic level if current trends continue. A 2016 study discussed in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry revealed that rates of Adderall misuse rose by 67 percent between 2006 and 2011, with users aged 18-25 comprising 60 percent of the total number of abusers. And many older people who abuse Adderall, to help them cope with the pressures of intense work environments or stressful home lives, may very well have started using the drug in college.
Meanwhile, a recent survey at the University of Michigan found that 25 percent of students enrolled there had used Adderall (or other stimulants) to help them study for finals or finish assignments. Significantly, only about nine percent of these students were misusing a drug they’d been prescribed for legitimate medical conditions; the remainder obtained supplies surreptitiously, either through friends, family members, or black-market dealers, the latter of whom are active on every campus.
While it continues to be abused mainly as a study aid, Adderall’s euphoric and energizing effects have made it increasingly attractive to college-age recreational drug users. Those who take Adderall to get high often crush the pills for snorting or injection, which intensifies the drug’s impact and enhances its addictive qualities.
However it is used, Adderall is an amphetamine, and amphetamines are highly addictive substances. Sadly but predictably, untold numbers of young people who’ve turned to Adderall to help them make it through school have become dependent on this potentially hazardous medication.
Consequences of Prolonged Adderall Abuse and Addiction
When someone uses Adderall excessively for prolonged periods, their brain’s chemical equilibrium can be severely disrupted. Production of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which affect energy level, motivation, focus, and mood, is stimulated by amphetamines like Adderall, and when they first start consuming the drug users are often swept away by feelings of euphoria and invincibility.
However, as use escalates in response to growing tolerance for the drug, the brain slowly loses its capacity to manufacture these important chemicals independently, forcing the user to take more and more Adderall just to feel normal. Peak performance will no longer be the goal, as addiction takes over and puts its own needs before everything else.
This is the physical side of Adderall dependency, and these profound and disturbing changes in brain activity will endure for as long as drug use continues. Initially, they will be accompanied by a range of short-term symptoms of Adderall abuse, which may include:
- Disturbed sleep
- Loss of motivation
- Racing heartbeat
- Breathing difficulties
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Digestive troubles
If these warning signs of abuse and impending addiction are not heeded, most will persist and could eventually become chronic. If the unrestrained use of Adderall continues, the user may ultimately experience even more severe long-term side effects, such as:
- High blood pressure
- Significant weight loss
- Chronic respiratory distress
- Vision troubles
- Skin problems (hives, rashes, and/or blistering)
- Unprovoked aggressiveness
- Manic episodes
- Panic attacks
- Heart attack
- Overdose, possibly leading to death if the dosage of Adderall is high or the drug is combined with other intoxicants like alcohol or opioids
In addition to these physical and psychological health disorders, men and women who abuse Adderall for months or years will likely suffer some devastating personal setbacks. They may lose their jobs, have financial troubles, encounter legal difficulties, or destroy treasured relationships.
Untreated drug addiction is a life-threatening and life-altering condition, and the final results can be profound and unsettling if nothing is done to halt the addiction’s progress.
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The Long-term Impact of Treatment
The long-term effects of Adderall addiction can be highly destructive and may include physical or emotional health problems that will persist even if use eventually stops. These dangers highlight how important it is to seek treatment for amphetamine addiction whenever Adderall use spirals out of control.
Treatment for Adderall dependency can promote sustained wellness and sobriety, if protocols and recommendations are followed to the letter. The best time to ask for help at a drug and alcohol rehab center is in the early stages of addiction, before the consequences of abuse become impossible to reverse or overcome.