Although Adderall is a prescription medication, it has a range of secondary effects, which users may experience whether they take the drug legally or abuse it. Before your doctor prescribes Adderall for ADHD or narcolepsy management, they should make you aware of the possible unwanted symptoms you may experience and when you should seek medical advice regarding these. However, if you are taking Adderall illegally, you may be oblivious to the side effects Adderall can cause. This is particularly likely if you view Adderall as a safe stimulant owing to the fact it is a prescription drug, but as the medication is based on amphetamines, there is a risk of serious adverse effects, especially if taken in higher doses than recommended. You are also less likely to be aware of the potential unwanted effects if you get your pills from friends or family who have their own prescription, as you won’t have the pill bottle or the accompanying instructions to refer to, and the same goes if you obtain them from other illegal sources such as online. Whether you are contemplating Adderall for medical or non-medical purposes, it is essential you understand the drug’s effects, good and bad, to make an informed decision.
Adderall can effectively manage the symptoms of ADHD through the action it has on the chemical messengers in the brain. A report on the effects of ADHD medication explains that Adderall successfully raises levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine by preventing their reuptake, so levels of the neurotransmitters remain high in the junction between nerve cells. Raising levels of dopamine is important in ADHD, as sufferers typically have low levels of the messenger and it doesn’t function as it should, which explains why symptoms such as poor attention, difficulties with memory and excessive physical movements are common in the condition. Adderall therefore boosts alertness and memory, while helping to control impulses. Enhancing levels of alertness is also beneficial for anyone with the sleep disorder narcolepsy and is why a prescription for Adderall is also issued to people presenting with this problem.
It is popular for students to take Adderall to aid concentration and academic performance, particularly when deadlines and exams are looming, though this isn’t the only reason why the drug is commonly abused in high schools and on college campuses. For instance, as this medication contains amphetamines, Adderall is seen as an easy way to achieve weight loss by suppressing appetite and increasing metabolism. ADHD medication is also taken to increase energy levels and allow users to stay up all night partying. However, the evidence for these supposed benefits is questionable and when you consider the risks of taking Adderall, abusing the drug is more dangerous than many people realize.
Short Term Effects of Adderall
When it comes to the short term negative effects of Adderall, these vary from one person to another. You won’t know how you will react before you start taking ADHD stimulants, but some of the unwanted symptoms are only temporary and clear up as your body adapts to Adderall. The side effects that are usually short lived are feelings of euphoria, anxiety, stomach pain, constipation, weight loss, reduced libido and sexual dysfunction, though if these persist you should seek medical advice. Other secondary effects are a sign of a more serious problem and you should speak with a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms with Adderall:
- Altered urination
- An irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Problems with movement or speech
- Flu like symptoms
- Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
- Adverse skin reaction
- Reduced consciousness
Long Term Effects of Adderall
While appetite will return following short term use, more prolonged use of prescription stimulants can lead to significant weight loss. One of the long term side effects of Adderall is therefore malnutrition, as not only does unintentional weight loss take its toll on physical and mental well-being, this is compounded by the nutrient deficiencies that can arise from poor dietary intake. It is important that anyone taking Adderall should monitor their weight regularly and acknowledge any changes in their appetite. If these are adversely affected, alternative medications are available for the management of ADHD and narcolepsy.
Concerns have been raised about the potential of ADHD medications to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke due to the negative impact they can have on blood pressure and heart rhythm. While any change in these should always be reviewed by a doctor if you are taking Adderall, researchers at Vanderbilt University found no link between use of the drug and cardiovascular disease. However, higher doses of the medication, which is more likely when taking prescription stimulants illegally, may pose a risk to cardiovascular health.
Although ADHD stimulants boost mood, you may have heard about a link between their use and psychiatric symptoms. If you are wondering can Adderall cause depression, the University of Georgia points out that it is possible to experience low mood after coming off the drug. This is most likely following chronic use and if you abruptly discontinue its use, as your body becomes used to elevated levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine, so it comes as a shock when levels of this chemical messenger fall back to normal. You may also be more susceptible to depressed mood following Adderall withdrawal if you have a history of mental health problems.
Symptoms of Adderall Abuse
If you abuse Adderall, it is easy to develop a tolerance to the drug. This means that you need to take increasing doses to boost your concentration and stay awake. At higher doses of the drug, you not only risk the adverse effects of Adderall, but the risk of addiction also increases. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse discusses, addiction to Adderall can arise due to increased levels of dopamine in your brain, which promotes feelings of pleasure and encourages you to take the drug over and over again. Although addiction can creep up on you, signs that you have a problem with Adderall abuse include:
- Neglecting other areas of your life. While you may use the stimulant to boost your focus on say your studies or work, this can lead you to show less commitment to your family, friends and other interests.
- Taking risks to get hold of Adderall. You may visit multiple doctors, falsify prescriptions or turn to other illegal sources of the drug.
- Finding that you can’t function without it. Your body becomes so reliant on the medication that to carry on as normal you need to keep taking the drug.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you don’t take the pills regularly. These may include tiredness, anxiety, low mood, excessive hunger and drug cravings.
- Continuing to take the drug despite signs that you are harming your body.
- Feeling that you can’t stop taking Adderall even though you want to quit.
If any of the symptoms above sound familiar, they are a clear indicator that you need to get help with Adderall addiction.
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