What Is Adderall? — Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects
Originally intended as a therapeutic medication for various forms of hyperactivity, Adderall has become a widely abused “study drug” requiring careful monitoring. Today, we’re going over the intended uses of this medication, as well as its side effects and potential for misuse.
What Is Adderall?
A name-brand drug combining amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, Adderall is a stimulant medication, meaning that it increases a patient’s breathing rate, brain function, and heart rate. There are two forms of this drug: Adderall oral tablets and Adderall XR capsules. Adderall tablets allow patients to feel the effects more quickly, and are generally taken multiple times a day. In contrast, Adderall XR is taken once daily and has longer-lasting effects.
How Is Adderall Used?
Although several different medications are available to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Adderall is arguably the most well-known. People with ADHD struggle to perform activities that require sustained focus. In addition, they may also experience difficulties with impulse control, staying organized, excessive activity, poor planning, and mood swings. Typically, people with ADHD also experience difficulties in school or work and managing relationships. Adderall helps ease these symptoms by enhancing the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, which stimulates the central nervous system.
In order to obtain an Adderall prescription, a patient must seek the evaluation of a mental healthcare provider. As reported by the Cleveland Clinic, 70-80% of children and 70% of adults with ADHD notice an improvement when they are prescribed stimulant medication. If the patient meets the criteria for an ADHD diagnosis, the healthcare provider will work with the patient to establish an appropriate treatment plan.
Psychiatric medication such as Adderall may ease the symptoms of ADHD, but in most cases, this is only one tool to address a patient’s issues. People with ADHD should also seek education about their disorder to better cope with their symptoms. Patients often experience more significant results when taking psychiatric medications in conjunction with mental health counseling.
In some cases, Adderall may also be used to treat sleep disorders like narcolepsy. People with narcolepsy have difficulties staying awake, so stimulants such as Adderall enable narcoleptics to stay awake during the day.
How Is Adderall Taken?
- Adderall: When a doctor prescribes Adderall to a patient, they begin at a low dosage. Children usually take 2.5 mg once daily, while adults are prescribed 5 mg and directed to take their medication once or twice a day. Typically, doctors direct adult patients to take their first dose in the morning upon rising, and a second dose 4-6 hours later.
- Adderall XR: Children with an Adderall XR prescription generally begin with a 10mg dosage, while the Adderall XR dose for adults starts at 20 mg daily. Adderall XR comes in capsule form, and patients should only take it in the morning. If you take Adderall XR too late in the day, it will cause sleep disturbances.
Since Adderall is a stimulant and Schedule II drug, patients must take it as prescribed to prevent the development of drug dependency. When patients obtain an Adderall prescription, they must adhere to specific rules and regulations. For instance, patients may not fill their prescription early if they run out of the medication before their scheduled refill. To limit the risk of misuse and dependency, doctors typically prescribe a 30-day prescription and require monthly evaluations for a prescription renewal.
Side Effects of Adderall
While the common side effects of Adderall tend to be low-risk, there is always a chance that patients may experience more severe side effects. Mild side effects include nausea, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Serious but rare side effects include heart attacks, seizures, and psychiatric disorders such as psychosis.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, uneven breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. Other severe side effects include digestive issues, extreme sweating, shivering, or hallucinations.
Moreover, if you begin experiencing the following symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Signs of Heart Problems
- Unexplained dizziness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
Signs of Circulation Problems
- Numbness in extremities
- Blue or red discoloration of the extremities
- Feeling excessively cold
- Unexplained wounds
Signs of Psychosis
- Hallucinations, such as seeing or hearing things around you that are not real
- Delusions, such as believing in ideas or scenarios that are not real
- Paranoia, such as excessive suspicion
Signs of Adderall Abuse
Although Adderall is a highly effective treatment for ADHD and narcolepsy, it does have a high potential for abuse. As a result, it is of the utmost importance that patients take Adderall as prescribed.
People with ADHD or narcolepsy who take Adderall as directed are unlikely to experience euphoria. That’s why people abusing Adderall tend to take a higher dose than prescribed. Users may take the drug orally or crush the tablets and snort them. In some instances, Adderall abusers may inject the drug into their bloodstream.
These practices are highly dangerous. Adderall abuse leaves users vulnerable to severe side effects, particularly those with high blood pressure or heart problems. In addition, the misuse of stimulant medication puts users at increased risk of overdosing and death.
Since Adderall is a stimulant medication, it can be challenging to realize whether or not someone is suffering from the effects of Adderall abuse. Most commonly, people use Adderall to increase their productivity and alertness. The majority of Adderall abusers are young professionals, athletes, and students.
The most common signs of Adderall abuse include:
- Becoming overly talkative
- Unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite
- Financial difficulties
- Manic episodes
- Consistently running out of their Adderall prescription early
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