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5 Signs Of Adderall Abuse

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

Medically reviewed by

David Hunter, MA.Ed, LPC

January 23, 2019

Adderall is a stimulant medication that is commonly used for the treatment of ADHD. This medication leads to an increase in focus and alertness, making this a highly abused drug for individuals who are looking to improve themselves in an academic or professional setting.

Adderall abuse has a dangerous feature: a significant percentage of those who abuse it are students and professionals seeking to enhance their academic or on-the-job performance. Because of this, Adderall abuse may be difficult to spot. But evidence becomes more clear as abuse accelerates, changing a person’s behaviors, physical health, and mental functioning, before finally culminating in patterns of drug-seeking and using.

What can make Adderall abuse confusing and difficult to identify is that drug abusers don’t often find the image many are quick to picture. Students and career-minded individuals may simply appear driven, successful, or extremely focused on their goals, when in reality their pursuits are fueled by Adderall. But the heartbreaking thing is, over time, Adderall abuse can actually destroy a person’s dreams, health, educational pursuits, career, and more.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant medication comprised of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Offered in immediate release tablets and extended-release capsules (Adderall XR), it’s most commonly used to treat ADHD, and in certain cases, narcolepsy.

When used correctly by individuals with a valid medical need, Adderall’s stimulating properties can enhance a person’s quality of life in what is generally a safe way. For those with ADHD, this includes improved executive functioning, focus, concentration, and even social functioning.

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Why Do People Abuse Adderall?

Due to the fact that Adderall causes intense brain stimulation, leading to increased focus and alertness, far too many individuals abuse it solely for the reason of elevating their academic endeavors or professions. These individuals are often top performers in their studies or field and turn to Adderall to further cement their success, a plan that most often than not backfires down the road.

Some individuals use Adderall in an attempt to boost athletic performance or as a means to lose weight. Others abuse Adderall purely for recreational purposes to create a euphoric state or rush. But even individuals with ADHD can abuse their medication if they start to take higher doses or use it more often than was prescribed.

When this occurs, any perceived benefit is fleeting. Over time, as abuse becomes frequent, the risk of addiction, mental and emotional dysfunction, cardiac complications, and other adverse health effects climbs.

Signs And Symptoms Of Adderall Abuse

So what are the signs of Adderall abuse?

1. Patterns Of Drug Seeking

Drug abusers often doctor shop, purchase the drug illicitly or steal Adderall in an attempt to maintain a steady supply of Adderall.

You might ask: what is doctor shopping?

When a person doctor shops they typically make frequent trips to numerous doctors in the pursuit of multiple prescriptions of Adderall. In order to avoid suspicion your loved one might go to more than one pharmacy to fill their prescription. These individuals will often pretend to have symptoms of ADHD in order to receive a prescription. While state-level prescription-drug monitoring programs have made these practices vastly more difficult, they still contribute to drug abuse.

In other instances a person may outright ask for your medication, claiming they’ve lost theirs or forgot to fill their prescription. Or they may actually steal your prescription.

If a user is attempting to purchase the drug illegally they may buy it from a friend, family member, or drug dealer off the street. Some individuals may attempt to purchase it online, so a search history may tip you off (this may also reveal multiple attempts at searching out physicians or pharmacies).

2. Signs Of Drug Use

When abuse is intermittent, it can be harder to spot, but even then certain signs can point to a problem. As a person becomes addicted, and cravings for the drug more severe, they’ll often exhibit more cues of abuse, but not always. So, in either case, it’s important to be aware of your loved one’s actions and attitudes surrounding drug abuse.

When a person is abusing their personal prescription you’ll likely notice that they’re running through it much faster than they should. If a person is illegally procuring pills you might find them in small baggies or cellophane wrappers from cigarette packs. Loose pills might pop up in random spots, for instance, the pocket of a coat, in a jewelry box, in a purse or wallet, or in a person’s car.

Since Adderall is designed to be taken orally, many individuals abuse it this way but in larger and more frequent doses. However, Adderall can be taken other ways as well.

Users may crush the pills so that they can inject, smoke, or snort the drug. A light dusting of powder on mirrors, dresser tops, or other hard surfaces can point to this. Razor blades are often used to crush the drug as well as to prepare it into lines for snorting.

In order to use it these ways an individual needs paraphernalia, which may include:

For snorting it: Cut off straws, pens, or other hollow items used for inhaling the drug into the nose.

For injecting it: Syringes, cotton balls (used to strain the liquid through), or spoons to dissolve it in.

Any form of Adderall abuse is dangerous, but when you alter the mode of administration new risks arises. Snorting can severely damage your nasal tissues, smoking can harm your lungs, and injection can transmit infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B and C.

3. Behavioral Changes Due To Adderall Abuse

Excess stimulation to the user’s body and brain from Adderall can cause increased alertness, attention, energy, physical activity, talkativeness, and wakefulness. On Adderall, a person may engage in activities for longer periods of time that are typically normal (hyperfocus) or they may move quickly from one thing to the next with seemingly boundless energy and motivation.

Adderall abuse can lead people to go prolonged periods without sleeping. After, individuals will often crash and sleep for long intervals of time, often at odd hours of the day. Eventually, some begin to struggle with chronic insomnia.

As a person’s life increasingly centers around drug seeking and using they will begin to exhibit atypical behaviors and disregard important responsibilities within their life.

For instance, a person binging on Adderall may:

  • Become secretive or lie to your face if you bring up their Adderall abuse.
  • Have cravings for the drug or suffer withdrawal if they don’t have it.
  • Ignore self-care (bathing, grooming, wearing clean clothes, etc.)
  • Reduce their participation in family events or day-to-day responsibilities around the house.
  • Spend a lot of time talking about Adderall.
  • Make claims that they can’t handle school, work, or other life circumstances without the drug.
  • Give Adderall credit for their success, performance, or weight loss.
  • Suggest you try Adderall to increase your success, performance, or weight loss.

The promise of better performance and increased productivity often backfires with Adderall abuse as a person’s grip on their studies or job responsibilities begin to slide. A person may then quit school or their job (or be fired).

4. Physical Symptoms Of Adderall Abuse

As an amphetamine drug, Adderall activates a user’s central nervous system, causing increased:

  • Blood pressure
  • Breathing rates
  • Physical activity
  • Temperature

Though some of these signs might not be obvious to the casual observer, a routine physical or doctor’s checkup may bring them to your attention (if you’re looking for them). As abuse becomes more frequent, and doses higher, these levels can rise to the point of causing cardiovascular damage, overdose, or even sudden death.

In addition, a user may complain that they:

  • Are dizzy
  • Are having vision problems
  • Can’t breathe properly
  • Feel jittery
  • Have a pounding or racing heart
  • Have constipation or diarrhea
  • Have headaches
  • Have no appetite
  • Have stomach troubles

You may notice that they:

  • Are frequently thirsty
  • Are sweaty
  • Experience sexual dysfunction
  • Have lost weight
  • Have motor or verbal tics
  • Have skin problems

If a user is taking the drug in a way other than swallowing it, they may have nosebleeds or a runny nose from snorting it, frequent coughing from smoking it, or needle or track marks on their arms or other areas from injecting it.

5. Mental Symptoms Of Adderall Abuse

Adderall changes your brain’s chemistry in a way which can alter a person’s mood and cognitive functions. As abuse deepens, a person’s mental states can become severely compromised so far as to cause:

  • Aggression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Personality shifts
  • Psychosis
  • Variable moods

An overdose from Adderall includes a combination of physical and mental symptoms. Overdose can be deadly. It may include but is not limited to confusion, convulsions, panic, nausea and vomiting, fast breathing, seizure, tremor, and coma. If there is any suspicion of overdose seek emergency medical help immediately.

Get Help For Adderall Abuse Today

Don’t let Adderall abuse consume your life any further. Whether you need help or you’re looking for a loved one, we can help. Contact today.

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