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Treatments for Adderall Addiction

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Quitting Adderall for good is no easy task. Before you begin the process of recovery it can seem a daunting undertaking. If you or your loved one is struggling with an addiction to Adderall, you should take the time to understand what treatments for Adderall addiction are available, what the benefit of getting treatment is, and how long treatment programs last. Adderall addiction rehab is a process that encompasses both detox and recovery. Understanding both of these components of addiction recovery is important. While entering  prescription drug rehab for Adderall addiction can be stressful, gaining a better picture of the process itself can help alleviate feelings of anxiety and pave the way to moving forward with recovery.

What is Adderall?

You’ve probably heard of Adderall before within the context of a treatment program, yet might not have a firm understanding of exactly what this drug is and what it does. Adderall is the trade name for a combination drug containing amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Both of these substances are stimulants. Stimulants generally enhance alertness, improve focus, increase heart rate and blood pressure, and boost productivity. Adderall is only legally available by prescription. When prescribed by a doctor it is used for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Individuals with this disorder have trouble concentrating or focusing, and stimulants like Adderall enable them to take part in normal activities such as school and work that require a higher degree of focus and attention than they are normally capable of. Narcolepsy is a condition where individuals can’t control when they fall into a deep sleep. Medication like Adderall can help this condition by temporarily boosting energy and alertness and keeping sleep at bay. Although prescription stimulants like Adderall have a number of accepted medical uses, they are also commonly abused and taken recreationally. Adderall is abused for a number of reasons. Teens and students in college abuse Adderall to achieve greater focus and productivity in school. Older individuals tend to abuse Adderall to enhance their memory. Some people just take Adderall because it produces a feeling of euphoria, or a “high”, and makes them feel more powerful, more productive, and more capable of achieving their goals.

How Does Adderall Work?

Stimulants like Adderall function by boosting the activity of two neurotransmitters which are tied to important functions in our body. The first, dopamine, is responsible for how we perceive and act on rewards. Dopamine is central to how we experience and regulate emotions as well. When an individual takes Adderall, the dopamine in their body becomes more active, resulting in feelings of pleasure and euphoria. The second neurotransmitter that stimulants like Adderall affect is norepinephrine. This neurotransmitter interacts with the sympathetic nervous system and is an important component of how the human body responds to threats or crisis. When we detect a threat the human body enters a state known as “fight-or-flight”. In this state, norepinephrine production is increased to improve focus and speed up reaction time. When you take Adderall norepinephrine activity is increased, similar to when you enter a state of fight-or-flight. This action is responsible for the increased focus that individuals who take Adderall experience.  Other short-term actions that Adderall produces include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased respiration
  • Higher blood sugar
  • Reduced blood flow

The long-term effects on dopamine are responsible for the habit-forming potential of Adderall. Over a period of time using Adderall, individuals will begin to need the drug to feel normal. At the same time, the effect of Adderall on norepinephrine production is responsible for many of the effects and side effects that people taking Adderall feel.

Side-Effects of Adderall Abuse

The abuse of prescription stimulants like Adderall can produce a number of side-effects.  Two of the most common side-effects of Adderall abuse are sleeplessness and weight loss. Stimulants make the body less likely to feel fatigue. Because of this, it is not uncommon for individuals who are abusing Adderall to stay up for multiple days at a time. This is often referred to as a “binge”. Eventually, the human body will need sleep and even the effects of the drug can’t continue to keep a person awake. This is often referred to as a “crash”, where the individual taking Adderall falls into a deep sleep that sometimes lasts up to 20 hours.  During an Adderall binge most people will experience little or no desire to eat food regularly. Over time, Adderall abuse can result in substantial weight loss. Individuals who abuse Adderall are more likely to develop unhealthy eating habits as well. During a binge, they will eat only sparingly but after a crash they may eat excessively. Other side-effects of Adderall abuse include:

  • Overdose
  • Heart problems
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever or chills
  • Pain while urinating
  • Confusion
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Slowed speech
  • Muscle cramps
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Hallucinations
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety

The risk of overdose is particularly dangerous with prescription stimulants like Adderall. Individuals who overdose on the drug may experience hallucinations, changes in blood pressure, stomach turmoil, seizures, and heart problems. Overdose on Adderall can lead to coma and death in certain cases.

Treatment Options for Adderall Addiction

An addiction to Adderall is a chronic disease that requires a comprehensive approach to treatment to successfully overcome in most cases. Addiction doesn’t happen immediately, but rather occurs over a period of time. Similarly, overcoming an Adderall addiction will require an extended effort over a period of time. The most effective treatment Adderall addiction is to enter a treatment program. The two most common types of treatment programs are an inpatient treatment program or an outpatient treatment program. Both of these types of programs have advantages and disadvantages, and while they share some similarities, they also differ in important ways.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

Inpatient treatment programs are sometimes referred to as a residential treatment program because you live in the treatment facility for the duration of the program. A typical inpatient treatment program will last between 1-3 months, which includes a brief Adderall detox timeline at the beginning of the program.  Inpatient treatment programs offer the safest and most effective method of overcoming an addiction to Adderall. By requiring the recovering addict to reside in the treatment facility, inpatient programs limit access to illicit drugs and reduce the risk of having a relapse. During an inpatient treatment program, individuals in recovery will remain engaged with the recovery process. They will take part in counseling therapy sessions throughout the duration of their stay. These sessions are intended to help them uncover the underlying issues that gave rise to their addiction and provide them with strategies that they can use to ensure they remain sober after their treatment ends.  An example of how talk therapy can help provide a tangible benefit for a recovering addict is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of talk therapy that is used to modify an individual’s thinking and behavior. Negative thinking or unhealthy thought patterns that contributed to drug use are identified, and healthier thought processes are integrated into practice. CBT has been demonstrated to successfully help individuals recognize and cope with situations where they are likely to use drugs.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

The core way that outpatient treatment differs from a residential program is that you can leave an outpatient program at the end of the day. Typically, outpatient programs begin with an intensive phase during which individuals take part in multiple treatment sessions throughout the week. Eventually, they will transition to a standard outpatient treatment program which requires less frequent sessions.  Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) offers a level of care that is very similar to a residential treatment program. While individuals may continue with their normal life when they aren’t in treatment, the rest of the time they are expected to take part in a variety of counseling and therapy sessions. The types of therapies and counseling sessions are the same for those who are enrolled in an inpatient treatment program. What sets an outpatient program apart from an inpatient program besides the residency requirement is the level of medical care and supervision that is offered. Outpatient treatment doesn’t give individuals access to continued medical care and monitoring. Additionally, individuals in an outpatient treatment program won’t have access to safe housing.  Outpatient treatment programs tend to be a better choice for people who have childcare or work responsibilities that make a residential treatment program unrealistic. Outpatient programs tend to be a better choice for people who need a reduced level of care and who are at a reduced risk for relapsing when they go home at night. Because of this, your social circle, home life, and the types of situations and influences you will be exposed to the outside of the treatment program can be a determining factor in whether an outpatient treatment will work for you.

Advantages of a Structured Treatment Program

Many people who are addicted to Adderall initially attempt to quit the drug on their own. While some are successful, many are not. Returning to drug use after attempting to quit is known as relapsing.  Relapse is actually a very dangerous time period because it is often when an overdose occurs. When a person uses drugs repeatedly over a period of time they develop a tolerance to the drug. They must then use more of the drug to achieve the same effect. When they quit using the drug their tolerance is reduced. If they relapse and return to the same dose they were using prior to quitting, they are more likely to overdose. Structured treatment programs offer a greater degree of safety by surrounding the individual in recovery by medical professionals and by limiting their access to drugs and thereby reducing the chances that they will relapse. Monitoring by medical professionals is an essential component of an effective treatment program because it ensures that any health complications from quitting the drug are identified and addressed early on.  Treatment programs also offer access to an existing support system designed to help individuals on their journey to recovery. During a treatment program the person in recovery will be surrounded by medical professionals, addiction specialists, and staff that are committed to seeing them successfully navigate the recovery process. The importance of having a strong support system both during and after a treatment program should not be underestimated.  Lastly, accredited treatment programs offer an outcomes-based approach to drug addiction treatment. This means that the treatment program itself is based on proven methods to help individuals achieve sobriety. Accredited treatment programs are grounded in evidence-based research to ensure that the types of treatments you receive have demonstrated effectiveness in treating addiction.

Final Thoughts

Conquering an addiction to Adderall is a challenging process. While the idea of quitting can be scary, it is important to understand that there are treatment options available that can make the process more effective and easier. The two most common treatment options for Adderall addiction are inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Inpatient treatment programs are also referred to as residential treatment due to the requirement to live in the treatment facility for the duration of the program. Inpatient programs offer the safest, most effective method of overcoming an addiction, and are appropriate for individuals who have attempted to quit before and were unsuccessful. In contrast to a residential treatment program, outpatient programs allow individuals to take part in treatment during the day and return home at night. These programs usually start with an intensive portion for a number of weeks. This is then followed by a program that requires less intensive engagement with the recovery program.  There are advantages to each type of treatment program, so it is important to work with a medical professional and intake specialist to determine the type of program that is ideal for your unique situation. Both types of programs utilize an evidence-based approach to treatment that ensures the treatment you receive has been demonstrated to be effective for others struggling with an addiction. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Adderall or other prescription drugs, the specialists at Apex Recovery can help. Please contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs for prescription drugs.


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