Adderall belongs to the group of central nervous system stimulants that physicians commonly prescribe for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorders or ADHD, depression or narcolepsy. It is theorized that people diagnosed with these disorders are lacking in dopamine, norepinephrine and seratonin. Adderall balances the problem by stimulating the brain to release more of the neurotransmitters, which calms, elevates mood or prevents drowsiness. However, in recent years, teens and young adults started using the drug illegally for the medication's stimulant properties.
Surveys suggest that up to 30 percent of teens and young adults turn to stimulants to remain alert. It is widely believed by youth that the medication also helps students stay awake while cramming for exams while enhancing cognitive and comprehensive abilities. Young people might additionally abuse the substance in hopes of improving athletic performance, as a weight loss agent or as a means of bolstering courage. However, the medication can prove harmful when used by individuals for other than its intended purpose.
Adderall's Effects on the Brain
When used therapeutically, the medication gradually increases the appropriate neurotransmitters and over time causes the desired effects. However, when used for non-medical reasons, the drug causes an over abundance of the neurotransmitters, which amplifies the effects of each. As a result, individuals often experience anorexia and euphoria along with increased energy levels, and renewed confidence. But, like any other medication, Adderall is not without side effects or possible adverse reactions.
Stimulants increase blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes or seizures. Accidental overdoses are also a possibility. Since 2005, the number of emergency room visits secondary to the abuse of ADHD medications tripled. Prolonged anorexia leads to dehydration and malnutrition, which hinder the immune system. In a weakened state, Adderall abusers have a greater likelihood of developing infections without the natural ability to overcome illness. If individuals prefer injecting the medication and do not sufficiently dissolve the substance in a fluid prior to injection, the drug can also cause blockages in blood vessels.
Mental Health Issues
In the presence of the medication, the brain attempts to balance the abnormal neurotransmitter levels. Over time, receptor sites are blocked and the amount of neurotransmitters are reduced. Individuals then increase the dose of Adderall or take the medication more frequently in order to achieve the desired effects. Without realizing the consequences, users become addicted to the drug. Once addicted, substance abusers experience withdrawal symptoms when not able to get the drug. These symptoms include depression, generalized fatigue and disrupted sleep patterns. The continued use of the medication or the effects of withdrawal can also lead to irrational aggression, hostility and paranoia. Users have also experienced audio or visual hallucinations.