Can Adderall be addictive? Yes. Is it always addictive? No - and the risk of addiction is something that you can minimize through cooperation with your prescriber and responsible use.
What Causes Adderall Addictions?
Adderall is classified as a Schedule II substance due, in part, to its increased risk of addiction. It has both short-term and long-term risks when abused that include mental and physiological addiction to the substance, so it’s crucial that you use Adderall responsibly to avoid addiction.
Drugs that make you feel “good”, especially “performance enhancers” like stimulants, produce a strong effect on the brain and body. Adderall stimulates the central nervous system to increase the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine while also limiting the reuptake of these chemicals so that your brain can use them. The resulting effects may lead to a euphoric feeling that causes people who try Adderall when it isn’t prescribed to them to abuse the drug to achieve stronger positive effects. Adderall’s therapeutic effects, including improved focus, memory, and reaction time, can also lead to addiction because of the results the drug can provide for those who might be tempted to take it without a prescription, such as college students.
Additionally, extended periods of abusing Adderall can lead to changes in the dopamine pathways. As your brain gets used to having an excess of neurotransmitters like dopamine, its reward center becomes less sensitive to higher neurotransmitter levels which lessens the “feel-good" reaction you achieve. As a result, you’ll need more dopamine to feel the same effects, increasing the risk of abuse and overdosing as your tolerance grows.
The Risks Of Adderall Addiction
Adderall addiction is particularly dangerous due to the drug’s stimulating effects. As you take higher doses of Adderall, you’re increasing the stimulating effects on the body while the feelings it produces in your brain slowly weaken over time. Consuming more than you’re supposed to then over-stimulates the nervous system and increases the chances of annoying side effects like sweating, dizziness, and shortness of breath, plus dangerous side effects like cardiac arrest or seizures.
Becoming addicted to Adderall also puts you at risk of withdrawal effects. Your brain and body get used to excessive dopamine and norepinephrine so that when you stop taking the drug, they react to the “low” levels with symptoms and side effects. These effects begin as soon as 24 hours after your last dose and can persist for weeks. Depression and anxiety are two common symptoms of Adderall withdrawal that make it hard to stop taking the drug. The chemical imbalance also makes ADHD symptoms worse, so if you’re overmedicating yourself to treat your symptoms, you will actually make things worse.
How To Avoid Adderall Addiction
Despite Adderall’s reputation, it can be perfectly safe to use for long periods of time if taken exactly as prescribed under the supervision of a prescribing clinician. Adderall addiction primarily occurs as a result of abusing or misusing the medication or in individuals who take the medication when it is not prescribed to them. Taking too much at a time or too much too often affects your dopaminergic system and encourages a dependence on it over time.
If you’re suffering from a lack of dopamine that’s associated with ADHD, Adderall can help address the deficiency to return your brain to healthy levels to minimize cognitive symptoms. However, if you’re taking it recreationally or self-medicating with high doses, the effects will be stronger and potentially dangerous in the short-term in addition to long-term addiction risks..
At monitored doses and under the supervision of a medical professional, you’ll be able to avoid causing major changes to your brain and developing an addiction that makes symptoms worse
Prevent Adderall Addiction With Proper Medication Management From Done
With the risk of Adderall addiction being associated with the effectiveness of the treatment plan in place, proper medication management is essential to avoid becoming addicted.
Done’s team of licensed psychiatric nurse practitioners and physicians will work with you to create a treatment plan that addresses your symptoms. Through effective prescription, dosing, and monitoring of your treatment, they’ll help to minimize the chances of addiction and improve your quality of life.
It’s easy to get started. Simply take a free 1-minute assessment to see how Done can help, then schedule an appointment with a licensed ADHD clinician to get help quickly and be sure to be in regular contact with your licensed clinician. Never take Adderall without a prescription from your personal licensed clinician.