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How to Spot Teen Adderall Addiction

Teenager receiving pills from another teenager

Did you know that the precursor drug to Adderall was actually discovered by accident?

Gordon Alles, an American chemist, was looking for an asthma treatment in the late 1920s when he discovered beta-phenyl-isopropylamine, a chemical which was synthesized in 1887 by German chemist Lazar Edeleanu that is known as amphetamine today. But it was not until the 1990s that the original formula was tweaked a bit and released onto the market as Adderall.

Today, millions of people take Adderall to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People who have not been diagnosed with ADHD are also using it, and many of them – including teenagers – are becoming dependent on the drug.

Why Teens Turn to Adderall

Some adolescents and young adults turn to Adderall because they mistakenly believe that the medication makes them smarter and helps their brains work harder. Others who recognize this idea as a myth still embrace Adderall for its stimulant effects.

Many students claim they can go without sleep or food for long periods of time during which they can study for exams, write papers, or work on projects. They also enjoy the feeling of euphoria that results from Adderall’s overstimulation of the brain’s producers of dopamine, which has been shown to improve mood and alertness.

Woman with hands on her head looking down

Because Adderall helps teens stay awake and remain energized while making them feel good in the process, it is easy to see why the medication has been widely abused in the U.S. In fact, the 2015 Monitoring the Future Survey reports that three out of every 40 twelfth-graders used Adderall for non-medical use.

Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Abuse

The problems start to arise when Adderall users begin developing a tolerance for the drug. As this process occurs, they need to ingest more of the drug to experience the same effects. The continuation of this cycle can sometimes cause users to rely on Adderall to function in daily life, even if they are aware of the dangers and the toll Adderall takes on their bodies.

Some of the most common symptoms of Adderall abuse are:

  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or similar digestive issues
  • Dry mouth or hoarseness
  • Restlessness or anxiety
  • Shortness of breath or accelerated heartbeat
  • Decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping

If a teen continues to abuse Adderall for a long period of time, he or she might experience:

  • Increased irritability or aggressive behavior
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Dizziness or vision changes
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
  • Trouble with speech
  • Skin that suffers from blistering, peeling, hives, or a rash
  • Pains in the chest
  • Manic or paranoid behavior
  • Seizures

In extreme situations, teens can even overdose on Adderall. Immediate emergency medical attention is necessary if the person exhibits one or more of these symptoms:

  • Hyperventilation and/or vertigo
  • Tremors that cannot be controlled
  • An abnormal heart rhythm
  • Panic attack
  • Substantial delirium or confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of consciousness

Battling Adderall Addiction

Combating Adderall addiction starts with an immediate cessation of ingesting the drug followed by a period of detoxification, which is often accompanied by profound fatigue, depression, and/or sleeplessness. The addict must also learn how to function without the “aid” of Adderall, and this can be accomplished through psychotherapy and behavior modification techniques. It is also helpful to educate the user about the drug and its effects as well as to treat any co-occurring conditions like mental illness, physical illness, or other addictions.

This is where drug treatment clinics or rehabilitation centers can really help. They employ trained counselors and health care professionals who can identify the root causes of addiction and design treatment regimens to help teens break their Adderall dependence. If you suspect that your teen is abusing Adderall, take prompt action to address the problem instead of assuming that it will disappear on its own – because it usually will not.

To get help for a teen with Adderall addiction, contact us.

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