- Classification: Stimulant CSA
- Schedule: Schedule II
- Trade: Adderall
- Medical Uses: Attention–deficit/hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy, weight control
- Physical Dependence: Possible
- Psychological Dependence: High
- Tolerance: Yes
- Duration (hours): 2–4
- Usual Method: Oral, injected, smoked
- Possible Effects: Increased alertness, excitation, euphoria, increased pulse rate and blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite
- Effects of Overdose: Agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions, possible death
- Withdrawal Syndrome: Apathy, long periods of sleep, irritability, depression, disorientation
Adderall (Levo-/dextroamphetamine) is a combination of two types of amphetamines. The two amphetamine derived stimulants that combine to form Adderall (i.e., levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine) alleviate the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy. The term stimulant indicates a substance that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS).
In moderation, stimulants enhance mood, increase alertness and relieve fatigue. Adderall is a drug that helps focus a person’s attention, which is why it is a very popular drug on college campuses. Students who may or may not suffer from ADHD use the drug recreationally so they can stay up all night and cram before exams.
Origin of Adderall Use
Some children (and adults) have trouble focusing and paying attention. This problem can be serious enough to interfere with a child’s ability to perform in school, and such children are often diagnosed as suffering from attention deﬁcit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Children with ADHD are not necessarily hyperactive, and many suffer primarily from symptoms of inattention. ADHD often leads to impaired academic performance, misbehavior at school, and conﬂict with peers, siblings, and parents. Although some children outgrow ADHD during puberty, more often these problems persist into adulthood.
In 1937, a physician named Charles Bradley discovered what appeared to be an extraordinary paradox: Hyperactive children were calmed by a dose of the stimulant drug amphetamine. Since then, many millions of children with ADHD have been treated with stimulant drugs, and methylphenidate (e.g., Concerta and Ritalin) and amphetamines (Adderall) are now the most widely prescribed treatments for ADHD.
The effects of Adderall are by and large the same as those of the other amphetamines. Whether stimulants are overprescribed in the United States today has become controversial in part because of the enormous increase in prescriptions for Ritalin/Adderall and other stimulants. Since 1990, use of these stimulants increased by nearly 500%, and it is estimated that over two million school-aged children in the United States take Adderall or some other prescription stimulant drug.
How Adderall is Consumed
Amphetamines are powerful and highly addictive stimulant drugs. They exist in both legal and illegal forms. When used correctly, amphetamines are helpful in treating numerous medical conditions. However, when these drugs are abused, or illegal forms are used, they become dangerous.
When prescribed by a doctor, mixed amphetamines (Adderall) are available as tablets or capsules. They come in many sizes, shapes, colors, and strengths.
Amphetamines can be used in many different ways, and the effects change depending on how they are taken. Most amphetamines can be taken orally as tablets, capsules, or liquids. They may also be added to beverages. An unusual way to take amphetamines is called “parachuting.” This involves wrapping the drug in a piece of toilet or tissue paper and swallowing the package. People do this to hide the bitter taste. Abuse of oral amphetamines is not very common. First, it takes longer to feel the effects of the drugs when they are taken by mouth. Second, oral amphetamines do not produce an intense high. Third, more oral drug is needed to get the same effects you would get using other methods. A second way of abusing amphetamines is by snorting them into the nose. When used this way, the drug reaches the brain faster than when amphetamines are taken orally. A user will feel the effects of a snorted drug in about five minutes. Snorting amphetamines often causes intense burning in the nostrils. In fact, it can burn a hole right through a person’s nose. Some people dissolve amphetamines in water and inject the mixture into a vein with a needle. When the drug is used this way, it works within seconds, causing a powerful high and extreme pleasure. Methamphetamine that is smoked also causes these same feelings and effects. Most meth users prefer smoking the drug for example. They often use lightbulbs or pieces of glass as pipes.
Effects of Adderall Use
Short Term Use Effects
Amphetamines strengthen the signals that are sent between the brain and the body. This strengthening changes the way amphetamine users think, act, and feel. Amphetamines produce feelings of happiness, excitement, confidence, increased energy, alertness, and power. If these effects extend too far, however, an amphetamine user may experience hallucinations, in which he or she sees or hears things that are not really there. Amphetamines also cause a headache, nervousness, jitteriness, and shakiness. Amphetamine users talk very quickly and have rapid eye movements. People using amphetamines also may experience a greater sex drive, do not feel hungry, and sleep very little. Amphetamines increase body temperature and heart rate. This can lead to excessive sweating, fast breathing, and an abnormal heartbeat.
Longer Term Use Effects
When amphetamines are used for long periods of time, they cause many problems. Most of these problems are related directly to damage in the brain. Amphetamines prevent the body from making and using two neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin. These are important chemicals that help nerve cells “talk” to one another.
Amphetamines also kill brain cells and cause certain parts of the brain to shrink. This can lead to mood changes and problems with thinking and memory. These changes can last a long time, even after the drug has been stopped. Sometimes, they last the rest of a person’s life. Amphetamine abusers can be confused, anxious, irritable, angry, or depressed. These feelings are made stronger by the users’ not getting enough sleep and by intense paranoia, a type of delusion that causes people to believe falsely that other people want to hurt them. These strong feelings can lead to violent and unpredictable outbursts.
Amphetamine abuse can shrink blood vessels. This makes it more difficult for the heart to move blood around the body. Eventually, the heart may stop working properly. Amphetamine use also can cause the heart to beat irregularly. These side effects increase a user’s risk of having a heart attack or stroke.