Adderall contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine which are central nervous system stimulants. It is available as an extended-release capsule or as a tablet. Adderral received its FDA approval in 1996.
Adderall is a prescription medication commonly used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperkinetic disorder, also popularly known as ADHD. ADHD is commonly spotted for the first time in children in the age group of 5-13 years. ADHD involves diminished ability to focus at a particular thing for long span of time. ADHD may sometimes persist until adulthood causing low self esteem, troubled relationships and difficulty at work or school. Along with medications, talk therapy too often helps in ADHD treatment.
It is also used in the treatment of narcolepsy, a pathological condition involving excessive sleepiness and sudden attacks of daytime sleepiness. Narcolepsy is of unknown origin but may involve genetic factors responsible for shooting abnormal signals in the brain. Apart from stimulants like Adderral, anti-depressants are also therapeutic.
Mechanism of action:
Adderall is known to increase the activity of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Thus stimulating the sympathetic nervous system and triggering the body’s flight or fight response. It thus helps improve one’s ability to focus on things, hold off sleep, treat tiredness, organize tasks and listen carefully to what others have to say.
The medication is to be taken orally with or before food as prescribed. The frequency of medication varies case-to-case and it is best to go by the doctor’s prescription. Most commonly it is prescribed 1-3 times a day. A child older than 5 who is taking Adderall for ADHD would typically take between 5-30 milligrams per dose. A typical dose for an adult with narcolepsy may range from 5 mg and to 60 mg.Very late night consumption can cause difficulty in falling asleep or insomnia.
If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember in the morning. If it is late, and you remember in the afternoon or near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume the next dose as per schedule. Do not take double the dose on your own to match up..
It is classified as ‘Schedule 2’ by the Drug Enforcement Agency to indicate its high potential for abuse. Some of the other schedule 2 drugs are Dexedrine, Ritalin and Cocaine and these are notoriously popular for their habit forming potential. One is at a higher risk of getting addicted to adderall if one suffers from substance abuse disorder or has a past history of alcohol or any other drug abuse.
- In recent times, the drug prescription has soared up especially in children suffering from ADHD resulting in large scale abuse of the drug.It has been abused by children who feel the drug can help improve their thinking abilities, concentration and academic grades. Research has shown that no such effect has been found in children not suffering from ADHD.
- The drug is known to suppress appetite and so helping in weight loss. This has led to drug abuse by people who want to lose weight. Multiple research publications point out that adderral aids in temporary weight loss. On discontinuation of the medication, weight gain generally occurs. Usage of adderall for the purpose of weight loss can lead to many complications like cardiac arrest, stroke, addiction, psychosis and even death, in severe cases.
- Studies show that teenagers likely to try adderral for recreational purposes have in 20% cases have had a past history of consuming marijuana, pain relief medication, cocaine or prescription tranquilizers. The drugs for recreational purposes can be sometimes illegally procured from local drug peddlers or chemists at exorbitant prices. The ease of accessibility and distribution in one of the prime causes of the widespread adderral abuse.
- Adderall abusers generally crush it and snort it to intensify the high. Regular snorting crushed Adderall may cause problems such as the destruction of the nasal and sinus cavities and lung tissue, breathing difficulties, irregular heartbeats, circulatory problems, psychotic episodes, aggressiveness and toxic shock.
- As Adderall’s own label warns, the drug is severely habit forming. However, on the brighter side, once the drug usage is discontinued and the drug is metabolised and eliminated from the body, there is no permanent damage to the brain. A usage of the drug over and above the prescription level, can have severe consequences. Also the drug does not have the desired efficacy on people who generally have an indication for treatment with adderral due to its rampant misuse.
- Long term adderral abuse can lead to substance use disorder. Over a period of time of its usage, it can cause increased tolerance to the drug. Making one need more of the drug to obtain the same result. Often as usage increases, it becomes nearly impossible to create the experience of the initial high.
- Children below the age should not take the adderral tablet and those below the age of 6 should not take the extended release capsule
- The safety of the drug for the elderly, age 65 years or above, is yet to be proven
- Patients with a history of glaucoma, severe anxiety, agitation, a personal or family history of tics, or Tourette syndrome must use it with caution
- Patients with congenital heart defects or serious heart problems, stimulants can cause a sudden heart attack and hence must be used with caution. A history of heart disease, heart rhythm disorder, coronary artery disease or heart attacks must definitely be informed to the doctor.
- History of high blood pressure, mental illness, peripheral vascular disease or seizure disorders should be informed to the doctor prior to the prescription
- Reselling or sharing of this medication is not only dangerous but also illegal.
- During pregnancy, drug consumption in very high doses may cause developmental and growth related problems in the fetus
- Children on this medication may experience weight loss and delayed growth milestones. Regular monitoring of weight and height becomes critical.
- Breastfeeding is not recommended when on this medication as it may have undesirable effects on the nursing infant.
- The container needs to be stored at room temperature. And must be kept away from light, moisture, children and pets. Avoid storing it in the bathroom
- Adderral’s label states that “amphetamines have a high potential for abuse. Might lead to sudden death and serious cardiovascular events. Long standing administration of adderral might cause dependency and must be avoided … ”
Some of the common side effects of the medication are:
- Irritability causes problematic social interactions and depression
- Stomach ache
- Loss of appetite resulting in substantial weight loss
- Erectile dysfunction is a side effect for men taking Adderall. Men report a decreased interest in sex and difficulty getting and keeping an erection. This change in sex drive or sexual performance can cause distress and embarrassment.
- Dryness of mouth
- Nausea which further suppresses the appetite
- Weight loss
- Irregular bowel movements which may cause constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of ilibido causing relationship strains at times
- Bladder pain
- Bloody or cloudy urine
- Difficult, burning, or painful urination
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Lower back or side pain
- Cold or flu-like symptoms
- Uncontrolled vocal outbursts
- Large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
- loss of bladder control
- Muscle spasms or muscle cramps
- Muscle pain or stiffness
Some of the serious side effects of Adderall may include:
- Irregular heartbeats
- Breathlessness and difficulty in breathing
- Chest pain
- Extreme fatigue
- Slow speech
- Numbness of an arm or leg
- Motor tics or verbal tics
- Hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
- Mania (frenzied or abnormally excited mood)
- Aggressive behavior
- Blurred vision
- Fever spikes
- Blistering or peeling skin
- Swelling of the eyes, face, tongue, or throat
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Hoarseness of voice
Some of the long term effects of adderral may include:
- Increased blood pressure leading to hypertension in the long run. This can in turn affect kidney function and blood vessel functioning thus leading to complications like sudden cardiac arrest and aneurysm
- Peripheral vasculopathy, or PVD, is a blood circulation disorder in which narrow blood vessels get clogged resulting in burning pain in the fingers and toes or always cold extremities like toes and fingers.The narrowing or blocking in a blood vessel causes PVD. There’s less oxygen and nutrients available for the tissue when the blood vessels are narrowed. Clots end up forming on artery walls, restricting the flow of blood to the limbs even more and even blocking major arteries. If this decrease in blood flow continues over a long-enough amount of time, complications including severe pain, stroke, reduced mobility and even amputation can develop.
- Cardiovascular problems
- Erratic heart rate like tachycardia, arrhythmia
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Heart disease
If you are experiencing one of the severe side-effects of Adderall, you might be tempted to stop taking your medication. However, it is advisable to seek medical advice before deciding to stop the drug treatment. The withdrawal of Adderral is generally considered as unpleasant with a plethora of physical and psychiatric symptoms.
This medication may have withdrawal tendencies if stopped at once or stopped after regular and long consumption.
The withdrawal is popularly known as ‘Adderral Crash’. If stopped suddenly, there are chances of severe fatigue, irritability, sleep disorders and mental disorders like depression, mood swings and the like. Tapering off the dose is very effective to ensure smooth discontinuation of the medication. Any withdrawal reactions, if experiences, must be reported immediately.
Overdose of adderral can occur in low doses and can result from its abuse. An overdose causes initial central nervous stimulation because of which there may be restlessness, tremor, confusion, hallucinations and panic. This is followed by fatigue, depression, and often cardiovascular and gastrointestinal symptoms. A medical professional’s help must be immediately called for if someone is suspected to have overdosed on adderral.
Treating amphetamine addiction is beyond scientific knowledge for now. Regular aerobic exercises may reduce the risks of developing such an addiction whereas sustained aerobic exercise on a regular basis can be an effective remedy for amphetamine addiction.
- Consuming alcohol along with adderral can cause reduced effect of the former due to quick metabolism of ethyl alcohol, the major component in alcoholic beverages
- Medications such as antidepressants, blood thinners, antihypertensives, diuretics, pain medications, diet supplements may interact with adderral
Natural alternatives to adderral:
Sometimes, one might not have to look to a prescription or medication as a solution to living a healthier life. Thus encouraging the use of natural alternatives for adderral unless and until medically indicated otherwise.
- Eliminate foods with artificial coloring: Research has shown time and again that some food dyes have been linked to hyperactivity in children. There are a few food colorings that are banned in Europe because manufacturers cannot prove they’re safe for consumption, yett are allowed in the U.S.
- Avoid gluten: Is there a proven correlation between gluten and ADHD? Maybe. A recent study eliminated gluten from the diets of people suffering from ADHD in the age group of 7-42 years for a whole period of six months. After six months of a gluten-free ADHD diet, the individuals suffering from ADHD showed significant improvement hence leading the researchers to the conclusion that gluten might exacerbate ADHD symptoms.
- Cut out sugar: Reduction of sugar from the diet does not mean only reduction of 1 spoon of sugar in morning tea. Sugar keeps sneaking us through our meals throughout the day in the form of soda, fruit juice, candy, artificial sweeteners, condiments. Riding on a sugar high can intensify ADHD symptoms.
Adderral has been a proven treatment for ADHD, if used properly. But do consider it as a measure of last resort because of its habit forming tendency and cautious use is indicated.