Adderall can have long-lasting effects on brain chemistry if taken in high doses for extended periods, but people can reverse the effects after stopping usage. As with any prescription drugs or medication, it is important to know the side effects, long-term effects, signs of dependency and abuse, as well as alternatives. Adderall is no different.
Prescription medications run the risk of abuse which is why it’s important to work with a licensed healthcare provider to determine the best use case for each patient. However, even with guidance, it is possible to abuse Adderall, which can cause neurotoxicity, addiction, and physical dependence.
If you or a loved one struggles with Adderall abuse, the following is information on the effects of Adderall on the brain and the body.
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is the brand name of four different amphetamine salts mixed to create a three-to-one ratio of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. To understand the uses of Adderall, it’s important first to look at the function of the brain.
When the body metabolizes amphetamines, the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain become heightened. Dopamine is what makes the mind and body feel good and gives us a sense of reward. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone and neurotransmitter that increases reaction times, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Adderall is most well known as a treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. People with clinical ADHD have brains with low dopamine function. Stimulants like Adderall increase the amount of dopamine in the brain, which can help alleviate symptoms of ADHD. ADHD symptoms may include problems with:
Those with ADHD might also experience depression and anxiety. Many of these conflicting symptoms can make it hard for those with ADHD to complete seemingly simple tasks such as schoolwork, chores, and self-care.
Why is Adderall Addictive?
As mentioned, Adderall is a stimulant medication made of four amphetamine salts that increase the body’s level of dopamine and norepinephrine. Those with ADHD use it to enhance focus and performance, which in turn creates its own sense of reward and accomplishment.
However, the body’s tolerance becomes higher and higher with long-term use, so to achieve the same benefits consistently, the individual must take more Adderall over time.
Adderall has many pervasive reputations, such as a study drug, a weight loss hack, or a performance enhancer for athletes. Still, often, high dosage use can cause bodily harm that vastly outweighs the short-term benefits.
Adderall Dependence Vs. Adderall Addiction
The main difference between dependence and addiction is that dependence is a facet of addiction. Addiction is the overall compulsive behavior of substance abuse, while dependence is more associated with the physical symptoms of the addiction.
As such, someone addicted to Adderall might feel like they can not control the impulse to take it or feel like they need it to perform certain functions. With abuse, the body eventually can become dependent on that source of dopamine and motivation.
Short-Term Effects of Adderall on the Brain
As a stimulant, there are ways Adderall affects your brain in the short term, which can have subsequent and related effects on the body. Some of these effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings, including anxiety, agitation, and irritability
- Head pain and hot flashes
- Sleep disturbances
These side effects will vary from person to person, and the come down from taking Adderall can exacerbate these issues.
Long-Term Effects of Adderall on the Brain
Adderall affects your brain in the long term as well. Some long-term effects include:
- Weight loss
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Persistent head pain
- Low moods such as anxiety, panic, and irritability
It also can cause physical symptoms such as the aforementioned dependence, as well as putting the user at increased risk for heart problems and stroke.
Does Adderall Permanently Change Brain Chemistry?
Long-term abuse of Adderall can change brain chemistry, as repeated abuse can interfere with the body’s ability to produce dopamine naturally. According to the journal Molecular Psychiatry, prolonged exposure of the brain to the amphetamines in Adderall can cause neurotoxicity, which may occur as the brain attempts to rid itself of dopamine receptors to balance the sudden influx caused by taking Adderall.
Signs of Adderall Abuse
Signs of Adderall abuse will look different for everyone depending on factors such as age, health, or the length of time spent abusing the drug. Some common signs to look out for include:
- Extreme sociability, chattiness, and racing thoughts
- Nervousness, anxiety, and panic
- Dry mouth, nausea, or vomiting
- Feeling invincible or full of vitality
- Altering Adderall’s form, such as crushing it to snort
- Being fearful of not having access to or being unable to find Adderall
- Visiting multiple doctors’ offices to obtain Adderall
- Spending significant amounts of time recovering from Adderall crashes
Not everyone experiencing Adderall abuse will exhibit every symptom listed, so fostering relationships built on trust and understanding with loved ones can be a step to gaining some insight into the existence of addiction.
Looking for Answers?
Recovering from Adderall abuse can be a long and physically taxing process. The timeline of withdrawals alone can last up to three weeks, but then comes the steps of furthering wellness and forging supportive relationships. Fortunately, Agape Detox can help.
Agape Detox is located in Port St. Lucie, Florida, with a resort-like holistic center and a staff of caring professionals. With a focus on total wellness, we offer medically supported detox services, inpatient rehab, and numerous therapy options.
We aim to provide the safest and most comfortable detox process to each one of our clients. Speak to admissions at (855)-948-2936 today to begin the healing process.