Cornerstone of Southern California Drug and Alcohol Rehab
What Does Adderall Do to the Brain?
Author: Cornerstone of Southern California
Published: March 17, 2022

Adderall is a prescription drug that improves focus and concentration in those who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It's also prescribed as a treatment for narcolepsy and obesity.

If you have ADHD, you may be issued Adderall to help you manage symptoms such as restlessness and impulsivity. Taking Adderall may also improve your quality of life and performance at college or work.

However, Adderall comes with side effects that you should be aware of. For example, there is an increased risk of addiction through prolonged use. For this reason, it's essential to take Adderall as advised by your doctor.

Taking a higher dose than specified or using prescription drugs for longer than recommended is considered drug abuse. This can lead to additional adverse short and long-term side effects, including health problems and overdose, which can have life-threatening consequences.

Talk to a licensed medical professional if you feel your dose is no longer working or wish to discuss your Adderall use. Should you have any concerns about Adderall abuse and addiction, contact our rehab center about treatment options.

Read more: Adderall Addiction Treatment

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a powerful Schedule II controlled amphetamine drug. Like many other drugs in this category, Adderall has medical uses, but it also has a high potential for harm and addiction. As an amphetamine, Adderall is a central nervous stimulant drug. Stimulant drugs are otherwise known as 'uppers' due to the effects they have.

In addition to helping those with ADHD, Adderall can cause a state of euphoric high. This is why Adderall is often abused in recreational settings. People also misuse Adderall to increase their focus during an exam, for example, or to supplement weight loss.

How does Adderall work

Adderall works by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, including dopamine and norepinephrine, which can help improve focus and attention. Adderall is typically taken orally in the form of a tablet or capsule, and the effects can be felt within 30 to 60 minutes of taking the medication. Adderall can be habit-forming, and it is important to follow your healthcare provider's instructions for use and to avoid taking it in larger doses or more frequently than prescribed.

What Are the Dangers of Adderall Abuse?

Some people try drugs such as Adderall out of curiosity, while others take drugs due to peer pressure. You might have taken Adderall not prescribed to you for these reasons or to lose weight, achieve better grades, or improve workplace performance. Although you may not see the harm in this, drug abuse is never worth it.

Over an extended period, Adderall abuse can lead to an addiction. It can also cause and amplify health conditions such as:

  • Heart attacks
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis
  • Mental health issues (including depression and anxiety)

As mentioned previously, upon abusing Adderall, there is also a risk of overdose. Overdose can be fatal, so you must call 911 for immediate medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased body temperature
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness

Help and support are available if you are concerned about drug use and don't know where to turn. Talk to us for confidential advice about Adderall abuse and addiction.

What Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

ADHD is a condition that affects people's behavior. A person with ADHD will generally display inattentive and hyperactive behaviors that interfere with daily life. ADHD is usually diagnosed at an early age, but some people only receive a diagnosis later in life.

Signs and symptoms of ADHD include:

  • A short attention span
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive talking
  • Interrupting conversations
  • Impulsivity
  • Carelessness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Inability to follow simple instructions
  • Disorganization
  • Incapacity to complete tasks that are time-consuming or difficult

If you recognize signs of ADHD in yourself, talk to a doctor as Adderall could help you focus and concentrate, enabling you to have a better quality of life. However, it's vital to remember that only a licensed medical professional can prescribe medication such as Adderall.

Do not take someone else's Adderall even if you think you will benefit from its use. This is extremely dangerous and can have adverse consequences on your health and well-being.

Should a medical professional believe that you need Adderall, an assessment will be carried out to determine if it's a suitable form of treatment. If you have an addiction, you will need an alternate form of treatment.

Please remember that just because a drug is available as a prescription medication does not make it safe for use without confirmation from a medical professional.

What Effects Does Adderall Have on the Brain?

When taken, Adderall affects the central nervous system by speeding up messages sent between the brain and body. Adderall also works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels. Norepinephrine, a stress hormone, enhances focus and alertness. Meanwhile, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain's reward center.

You naturally receive an upsurge in dopamine when participating in pleasurable activities such as eating food, listening to music, and sex. These activities also produce a sense of well-being. However, through prolonged Adderall misuse, the brain quickly adapts to this instant dopamine hit and begins to expect it, causing physical dependency and cravings to feed this newfound addiction.

This is why Adderall is a Schedule II controlled drug. Although it may look harmless compared to cocaine and ecstasy, the risk of harm and addiction is the same.

Why Is Adderall Referred to as a Study Drug?

Adderall is infamously referred to as a 'study drug' on college campuses. This is due to misconceptions among college students that it increases academic performance.

Although Adderall can increase focus in those who have ADHD, it's of no use if you do not have the disorder. Scientific studies have found no evidence that non-medical use of prescription stimulants like Adderall increases academic performance.

What Are the Signs of Adderall Addiction?

Deep down, you might already know if you have an Adderall addiction. But sometimes, it can be hard to admit even to yourself that you have a problem. Unfortunately, when you develop a physical dependence on Adderall, stopping without professional help is almost impossible. So you must be honest with yourself.

If you rely on Adderall and question whether you have an addiction, it may be helpful to review the signs of addiction below.

  • Prioritizing drug use over commitments and responsibilities
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Secrecy and lying
  • Poor performance at college or work
  • Financial difficulties
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Sleep problems and exhaustion
  • Low hygiene and self-care
  • Risky behavior
  • Erratic mood swings

If you experience any of the above symptoms, you may well have an addiction. Medically known as substance use disorder (SUD), addiction is a consuming brain disease that compels you to use drugs.

During active addiction, you will experience cravings, which can further fuel your problem. You will also suffer from withdrawal symptoms if you stop using for some time.

The only way out of this vicious cycle is through addiction treatment. While you may not think this is necessary, we would encourage you to contact us to learn more about your treatment options today and how you can break free from Adderall abuse.

What Are Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms?

When you detox from Adderall, you will likely experience side effects that are usually unpleasant but manageable. For your safety and comfort, you should only detox in a treatment facility, such as ours, where you will be under 24-hour supervised care.

This is because detoxing can sometimes have life-threatening side effects as well as intense cravings, which are hard to avoid in the outside world.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Oversleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Increased appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

Withdrawal is different for everyone, but symptoms should only last for about one week. However, addiction treatment does not stop there. Recovery is a journey that requires ongoing support and determination to stay drug-free. We are here for you every step of the way.

How Can I Find Treatment for Adderall Addiction?

If you are looking for treatment for Adderall addiction, contact us today. In doing so, we can talk to you about the treatments we provide and discuss the dangers of taking Adderall with you.