ClickCease Signs of Adderall Abuse - Granite Recovery Centers

Signs of Adderall Abuse

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: October 2nd, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

One of the most easily accessed prescription medications is Adderall. Although it’s predominately used to help attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms, it’s increasingly becoming misused for its side effects. Recognizing that you or someone you know has an addiction to Adderall is key to starting your journey toward recovery. At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to make sure that you have all the support you need. Here’s what you need to know about the signs of Adderall abuse.

How Does Adderall Affect the Body?

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant. Because it’s primarily used to treat ADHD, the drug is designed to help patients focus and improve their concentration. It does so by boosting neurotransmitters in the brain. When those chemicals are activated, the patient can focus better.

It also has an impact on your heart rate. With higher blood pressure, you may start to feel anxious or nervous. Those who do not have ADHD may feel those feelings more acutely.

Besides helping to treat ADHD, it’s also been used to help narcolepsy. Because your brain is kept active, it’s harder for it to shut down and make you fall asleep. That also means that those who use Adderall and don’t suffer from narcolepsy may have insomnia.

Adderall misuse can be exacerbated by the use of alcohol as well. If you abuse alcohol and Adderall, the Adderall will amplify the effects of the alcohol. Even performing simple tasks can be difficult when these two drugs are combined.

Because Adderall affects everything from your brain to your digestive system, it’s easy to become addicted to it. If you stop using it, then you may start to feel unwell until the drug is taken again. This can create an endless cycle that is difficult to break (often referred to as addiction or dependence).

Signs of Adderall Abuse

There are a few general signs of Adderall abuse to look for when you are concerned that yourself or someone else might be struggling with addiction. One of the first is being unable to stop taking Adderall even though you’re aware it’s causing behavioral and physical problems. At this stage, you may think that recovery is impossible since you may believe that your body can’t survive without the drug.

Another sign of Adderall dependence is making life decisions based on the drug. For example, even though you need to work, you may skip it to get Adderall. Or you may know that you need to pick someone up, but you choose instead to attend a party where you know that the drug is being used.

The third sign of prescription medication addiction is needing to take higher doses to get high. There are a few reasons why doctors only allow their patients to take small doses of Adderall. The first is efficacy. Higher dosages don’t always mean that the drug is going to work better.

Tolerance

The second reason is that doctors are aware that the body builds up a tolerance against Adderall. Because Adderall reworks the brain’s chemistry, the brain becomes reliant on it. Doctors try to avoid this by only allowing a certain amount of Adderall to interfere with your brain at a time.

Abuse means you’re using Adderall as much as you can. Unfortunately, it also means that you’re quickly heading to a point where you won’t be able to get enough of a high from the drug. That could lead to an overdose. Adderall also affects your heart rate. This means that you may also suffer a heart attack either while you’re passed out or during your high.

The last general sign of prescription addiction is the withdrawal symptoms when Adderall is discontinued. It’s common to feel slight or severe withdrawal symptoms when using Adderall. Even those who use it properly per their doctor’s instructions may feel slight withdrawal symptoms when they forget their dose. As someone who is addicted to Adderall, you may suffer from those symptoms more severely.

Who Can Become Addicted to Adderall?

Many people take the prescription as prescribed who are healthy and not at risk. However, some may become dependent on Adderall for their focus and sense of well-being. These individuals may seek to acquire more Adderall on top of their prescribed medication.

Some do not suffer from ADHD or narcolepsy and desire the high that Adderall can give. These individuals acquire the medication through other means.

These individuals also likely take the drug in different ways. They may choose to inject the drug to receive a more potent high. Others may snort it like cocaine to make the drug act faster on their brain.

Physical and Psychological Effects of Adderall After Use

There are a few signs and symptoms of being under the influence of Adderall. Because it interacts with dopamine, one of the key neurotransmitters responsible for feelings of wellness and happiness, the high can mimic feelings of pleasure and invulnerability. Some of the physical signs and feelings that you may experience under an Adderall high include:

  • A desire to be productive
  • Feeling healthy and sound
  • Increased socialness
  • Feeling motivated and optimistic about life
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased thinking
  • Increased talking
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiety
  • Impatience

The signs are potent enough that anyone will likely notice them. If you’re at a party and you notice someone with these signs, then it may be because they’re under the influence of Adderall or another prescription medication.

Abusing Adderall for Productivity

Because Adderall boosts brain activity and helps you gain some energy, you feel more motivated to be productive. That might mean doing your homework or going to work. It can also make you feel good about yourself and the situation you’re in. However, it can increase your energy or desire to be productive to the point where you’re actually hyperactive and pushing yourself a little too far. You may find yourself being unable to stop talking. The conversation may even be nonsensical.

Eventually, you may start to feel impatient. Things aren’t happening quickly enough. Those feelings can then transform into nervousness or anxiety. This is when your heart rate starts to increase a little too much. It triggers the feeling of fear or apprehension. Noticing these signs in yourself or at a party can help you understand when someone needs your help.

Side Effects of Adderall Use

Like all prescription medications, Adderall has its share of side effects. Understanding what they are can also help you determine if you’re taking too much.

Some of the side effects of taking Adderall include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Problems falling or staying asleep
  • Nausea
  • Decreased sexual interest
  • Tremors in the limbs
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

Some of these symptoms may be made worse because of the amount of Adderall that the individual took. They may also feel like signs of withdrawal. Because they’re so unpleasant, the individual may choose to take more Adderall to get back the feelings that they had before. However, this will only make the problem worse. You may experience even more intense side effects afterward. Understanding these signs is important because it can help you determine if someone took too much Adderall.

Signs of Adderall abuse

One other side effect that is rare is hallucinations. Some users of Adderall have reported seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. This can be dangerous. If you start hallucinating while taking Adderall, then you should seek help immediately.

Other more serious side effects of Adderall abuse include:

  • Chest pain
  • Fast heart rate
  • Feeling faint
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in vision
  • Slowed or slurred speech
  • Numbness in arms or legs
  • Exhaustion
  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscular or verbal tics
  • Blistering skin
  • Peeling skin
  • Seizures
  • Swelling of eyes, tongue, throat, or face

These are all serious side effects that should indicate that you need to seek medical help immediately. Some of them may even be a sign that you’re experiencing an overdose. Because heart attacks can occur from using Adderall, if you experience numbness, chest pains, or shortness of breath, it may indicate that you’re about to suffer from one, and you need to call 911 immediately.

Because there isn’t much research available on the long-term effects of Adderall on the body, it’s important to see how the short-term effects can affect the body’s systems. If the short-term effects are this serious, then the long-term effects may be even worse.

Those who are addicted to Adderall may find that they increasingly start to experience these negative symptoms. As the drug impacts your brain chemistry, it can also take its toll on your body.

Behavioral Signs of Adderall Abuse

In general, there aren’t just physical signs of Adderall abuse. In addition to the physical signs, the users’ behavior can also indicate that there’s a problem. Part of that behavior may be linked to how Adderall is taken. Those who inject Adderall into their bodies, for example, will need the correct kind of paraphernalia to do so, so being watchful of intravenous substance abuse paraphernalia is helpful.

You may also want to look for puncture wounds where the needles are injected. Serious abusers may have numerous puncture wounds and may need to seek other veins to use.

The other popular way to take Adderall is by crushing the pills and snorting them like cocaine. In this instance, the person using the drug will need something to crush the pills with and something to channel the powder up their nose as they inhale it, like a drinking straw that has been cut into smaller pieces.

You can often tell that someone is snorting Adderall because they may damage their nasal cavity in the process. Nasal cavities are designed to release fluid. Large particles forced up the cavity to the brain can damage the cavity as they migrate upwards.

Financial Signs of Adderall Abuse

Besides how the drug is taken, you can also spot Adderall abuse through how it’s being purchased. Some may use their funds from work to pay for their habit. Others may be forced to use money that’s supposed to be for something else. College students, for example, may use their tuition money to buy Adderall. Some may use the money that’s reserved for books to buy the drug instead.

Noticing a lack of self-care is also a staple of drug addiction and a sign of Adderall abuse. As the addicted person becomes lost in their highs, other functions like grooming no longer become important. As the drug ravages the body, it may also be more difficult to perform these functions.

Finally, it can impact their relationships. Adderall abusers will place their addiction over everyone else. You may notice that they stop hanging out with people or attending quiet get-togethers.

Recovery Is Possible Through Granite Recovery Centers

Feelings of despair around addiction are common, but there is hope. There are detox programs, where they safely administer non-addictive medications that can help make the withdrawal experience easier. In addition, our detox program offers the support of therapists and medical professionals that you need to make it through to the other side. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

It’s possible to overcome Adderall abuse. At Granite Recovery Centers, we have the support and resources that you need to detox safely. We can help you find the right therapy program that works best for your needs. At our center, you’re treated like a member of the family. It’s difficult to stop your addiction on your own. With us at your back, you don’t have to go through it alone.

Alumni Program

Granite Recovery Centers also offers an alumni program. This is a program designed for those who have reached sobriety through our center. We know the challenges you face in the outside world, and we can help you retain your sobriety.

Our alumni program brings together recovered patients and allows them to enjoy fun activities like bowling and laser tag together. The community is supportive of one another and shows that individuals can have a lot of fun without the use of drugs and alcohol. Our alumni program may offer you the group of supportive friends that you’ve been missing.

Substance use disorder doesn’t have to control your life anymore, and you should act now if you see the signs of Adderall abuse in yourself or someone you love. You can take back your life today — all you have to do is give us a call.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.