Adderall Addiction & Treatment

Adderall Addiction & Treatment

Authored by Defining Wellness    Reviewed by Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis    Last Updated: August 17th, 2021


Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis Medical Reviewer
Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

Adderall addiction is on the rise, especially among young adults. These individuals often get Adderall from friends or family who have prescriptions. When taken at the correct dose by the person it is prescribed for, Adderall can be effective at treating symptoms of narcolepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. However, when taken at higher dosages or by someone who isn’t prescribed it, Adderall can have dangerous effects.

From a risk of elevated mental health problems to serious sleep disturbances, Adderall addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s mind and body. Getting treatment for it is essential, especially since there is no research available on the long-term effects of Adderall use.

Treatment can involve outpatient, inpatient, or combination-style therapy. There are also different treatment methods that can be utilized by a licensed practitioner to cater to an individual seeking recovery. If you or your loved one is living with Adderall addiction, consider reaching out for help. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can reclaim your health, happiness, and overall vitality.

Adderall Addiction: An Overview

Adderall addiction is most common among adults aged 18 to 25. As a study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2016 revealed, these young adults typically do not have prescriptions. The Hopkins researchers involved in the study found that the non-prescribed use of Adderall by young adults increased by 67% from 2006 to 2011. Additionally, emergency room visits for Adderall overdose went up by an astonishing 156%.

Given that younger adolescents and adults 26 and over have less of a tendency to misuse Adderall, researchers are considering life events and situations to play a major role in why the 18-25 age group chooses to use Adderall. Considering the fact that many of these young adults are in college and/or working stressful jobs, Adderall might be the way they choose to cope.

Adderall is a stimulant that acts on the central nervous system. When taken at the right dosage level, it can help people with ADHD calm down and focus. Sometimes, the effects of Adderall taper off over time, and people might feel the need to take more than they have been prescribed. It can provide a euphoric “high” when taken in large amounts.

Taking too much Adderall can be dangerous and even fatal. Taking it for extended periods of time can lead to withdrawal effects, serious heart conditions, and even sudden death, which is why getting addiction treatment is so important.

Treatment for Adderall addiction can be effective at reversing the craving for Adderall’s effects. Since there is no approved medication to help treat Adderall addiction, therapy is focused on detoxifying the body and helping to heal the mind.

Why Is Adderall Addictive?

Adderall is addictive because it creates a sense of euphoria when taken in high dosages. Adderall is a stimulant, increasing the dopamine levels and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Over time, people can get used to the heightened levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, which might prompt them to use more Adderall than they are supposed to.

A lot of people, especially in the 18-25 age group, feel pressured to perform. Between college, work, and social life, balancing it all can feel like a highly stressful juggling act. There is a perceived minimal risk that goes along with Adderall since it is an FDA-approved prescription drug. In addition, given that it enhances mental stimulation, taking the drug offers the appeal of improving performance for those in high-pressured lifestyles.

Who Is at Risk for Becoming Addicted to Adderall?

Young adults in the 18–25-year-old age group are most at risk for becoming addicted to Adderall because they are the most prominent users. However, even people who take Adderall at the correct prescribed dosage are at risk of becoming addicted since their bodies can adapt to the effects over time.

People living high-pressured lifestyles in which they perceive they must perform can include:

• Athletes
• Students
• People with eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia, or people who are trying to lose weight
• People with a history of other drug use
• People working in high-stress jobs
• Parents of young children

Some medications interact with Adderall and can actually put people at risk of addiction. These medications include:

• Antidepressants
• Decongestants
• Antacids
• Painkillers
• Lithium
• Anti-seizure medications
• Blood thinners
• Blood pressure medications

Spotting the Symptoms of Adderall Addiction

Spotting the symptoms of Adderall addiction in a loved one or in yourself is a crucial step in the treatment-seeking process. The biggest clue is usually the sense of euphoria that someone feels after taking too much Adderall. However, as the Adderall’s “high” wears off, feelings of anxiety might rush in. Depression can result as well.

Drug-seeking behaviors are common in people who are misusing Adderall. They will likely spend a lot of time and money to get the drug. They often end up avoiding their responsibilities and becoming socially isolated and/or secretive about what they are doing. They might lower their standards for grooming, hygiene, and all-around self-care. Also, they might go to multiple doctors in order to get additional Adderall prescriptions and then get them filled at different pharmacies. In order to speed up Adderall’s effects, users might crush, snort or otherwise manipulate the drug.

As Adderall wears off, users will experience withdrawal symptoms, or what is commonly referred to as the “Adderall crash“.

Symptoms of Adderall withdrawal can include:

• Insomnia
• Restlessness
• A quickened heart rate
• Weight loss
• Dizziness
• Fatigue
• Panic attacks
• Seizures
• High blood pressure
• Blurred vision
• Dry mouth
• Paranoia
• Depression
• Suicidal thoughts and ideation

If someone has overdosed on Adderall, you will likely see the following symptoms:

• Vomiting
• Nausea
• Fever
• Tremors
• Fainting
• A rapid heart rate
• Quickened respiration
• A heart attack
• Seizures
• Chest pain

How Doctors Diagnose Adderall Addiction

Adderall addiction is typically diagnosed by doctors after you report feeling symptoms of withdrawal and the development of drug tolerance. A doctor will take note of your medical history and go over your Adderall usage with you. They will ask you what your dosage level is and how often you take it. Other medications and supplements will also be reviewed since some of them can have interactions with Adderall.

Your doctor might want to perform a physical to assess your heart rate and blood pressure. Diagnostic criteria from the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM-5, must be followed during the evaluation. Should your doctor determine that you have Adderall addiction, they will likely recommend you for detoxification and rehabilitation treatment.

Treatment for Adderall Addiction

Here at Defining Wellness Centers, treatment for Adderall addiction can take on a few different forms. While some individuals choose detoxification on their own combined with some outpatient therapy, we find that inpatient therapy is often recommended due to the addictive power of Adderall.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient therapy revolves around following a daily treatment regimen. This can include individual counseling or group therapy at a treatment clinic. Choosing outpatient recovery allows you to remain at home as you work through the start of your recovery journey. This is something that people who do not have very serious addictions choose because they can keep up with school, work, and family obligations.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient therapy provides a highly structured way for a person to detoxify from Adderall under the careful watch of trained doctors, nurses, and staff. Clients will be monitored as they go through withdrawal, which can be dangerous to go through on one’s own.

Types of Therapy

Different types of therapy can be utilized to treat Adderall addiction. Since addiction is a trauma-based condition, utilizing trauma-based therapy can be effective. Addiction is both physical and mental, so it must be treated as such.

Trauma-based therapy allows doctors and clients to address deeply rooted traumas. These traumas can include post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as well as the intermingled grief and shame that a person can feel from having an Adderall addiction. A mix of emotions can overpower the individual, but their doctor can provide guidance and compassion.

Some of the experiential therapies used with clients include:

• Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, known as EMDR
• Equestrian Therapy
• Art Therapy
• Music Therapy
• Play Therapy

With the help of a trained counselor, a client can work through their trauma and start the healing process. Cognitive therapies are known to be highly effective as well and can be combined with experiential therapies to increase the focus on trauma treatment. Cognitive therapies involve the client re-training themselves to think in the present with a clear and realistic perspective.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is widely used to treat an assortment of mental health conditions. Its core principles are founded on psychological problems being the result of unhelpful or faulty ways of thinking as well as learned patterns of unhelpful behavior. People dealing with these psychological problems can find a better way to cope that will alleviate their symptoms and help them reclaim their lives. CBT strategies can include gaining better comprehension of others’ motivations and behaviors, recognizing and reevaluating one’s own distorted thoughts, utilizing problem-solving skills, and becoming more confident in one’s own abilities. Therapy can involve learning how to relax the mind, face one’s fears or use role-playing to learn how to better interact with others.

In addition, there is Alpha-Stim technology. Alpha-Stim balances out the brain’s cellular signals, thereby helping improve the client’s mood, relieve anxiety, and promote better sleep. Alpha Stim’s waveform passes through two electrodes on either side of the head to stimulate particular nerve cells in the brain. This electrical current is extremely low and will not cause any type of pain or damage. It often provides the type of relief that people who misuse Adderall are looking for and can therefore be helpful at treating Adderall addiction.

The Outlook for Recovery

The difficult truth about Adderall is that the longer a person misuses it, the harder it becomes to quit. Withdrawal symptoms are highly unpleasant and can make a person trying to quit on their own return to using Adderall. Plus, those symptoms can be hazardous to a person’s well-being. This is why it is important to be carefully monitored while detoxing from Adderall.

Treatment can help a person overcome addiction to Adderall. Doctors will often recommend inpatient rehabilitation therapy. With personal empowerment through trauma-based therapy, nutrition and lifestyle changes, and technology-based treatment methods, the road to recovery can be more meaningful and long-lasting.

Insurance Coverage for Adderall Addiction Treatment

Many insurance companies will cover the cost of Adderall addiction treatment. Tricare, Humana, Aetna, and Anthem are just a few of the insurance providers that will work with clients to get their treatment covered. Time frames can be subjected to limited coverage, so it is best to check with your insurance provider to learn their policies and how many days they are willing to cover.

Do not put off getting help if you believe that you or your loved one is dealing with Adderall addiction. Treatment is available to those in need; all you have to do is reach out and ask. There is no shame in admitting that you need assistance from highly trained and compassionate staff to get a fresh start in life.

Family-owned and operated, Defining Wellness Centers is a true labor of love. My wife Robin and I, along with our children, are deeply passionate about wellness, mental health and addiction treatment.

We are a family, dedicated to helping other families. We created Defining Wellness with two central goals in mind: to share our love, understanding and compassion with clients and to utilize the best health and wellness modalities available today to treat addiction.

Our programs are built on a foundation of proven, evidence-based therapeutic techniques combined with cutting-edge bio-technological treatments, fitness and experiential learning. Our end goal is to provide the support and tools necessary for people become their best selves through emotional wellness and balance.