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Adderall, a stimulant used in the treatment of ADD/ADHD and narcolepsy, can allow people with clinically "excited" brains to slow down and focus at a more normal level.

Adderall, when taken by people without a clinical need, causes euphoria, energy, concentration and excitement. Aderall is speed, a drug with a long and lethal history, and a very dangerous drug to play around with.

Like all amphetamines, Adderall works on the dopaminergic systems of the brain, causing more of the mind's "feel good" chemical to stay in circulation. Speed feels good, so good that people tend to want to take it often; and so good that the brain tends to want to have it always. Adderall is a very addictive drug – as addictive as cocaine, and scheduled as a class two narcotic for that reason.

The drug's effects are felt both in the mind, with euphoria and a sense of boundless energy, but also throughout the body, with a physiological response that includes an increased heart rate, faster breathing and high blood pressure. When Adderall is taken at above clinical levels (when it is used to create a high) the period after intoxication can be unpleasant, with the "come down" bringing symptoms of exhaustion, confusion and nausea or vomiting.

Although Adderall is dangerous and controlled, it is relatively widely prescribed, and thus available for abuse. A study of college students indicates that as many as 20% had used it as a study aid.

The Health Risks of Adderall Abuse

The drug creates potent psychiatric and physiological changes, and such changes carry some considerable risks. Adderall abuse has been linked with heart failure, even in otherwise healthy and young users, and may also cause anxiety, psychosis and sexual dysfunction.

Signs of an overdose include muscle twitches, hallucinations, delusions and a very rapid or irregular heart beat - Anyone experiencing an Adderall overdose needs immediate medical attention.

Although safe and effective in clinical doses for people with a legitimate need, Canada, in 2005, went so far as to temporarily ban the sale of the medication, after a reported 20 deaths were linked to its abuse.

Adderall Addiction and Withdrawal

Adderall manipulates dopamine levels in the brain in a way very similarly to cocaine, and thus it is not surprising the addiction and withdrawal symptoms of the medication closely mimic those of a cocaine addiction and withdrawal.

Long term abuse of the medication can lead to a lower than average baseline quantity of dopamine in the brain, and users need to take increasing quantities of the drug just to feel the same effects. When they do not take the medication, the dopamine levels flowing in the brain drop dramatically, and users feel intense dysphoria and depression.

In addition to intense cravings to use the drug, anyone attempting to break an Adderall addiction will likely experience extreme tiredness and hunger, lasting and deep depression, suicidal ideations and nightmares.

Adderall addicts wishing to come off the drug may either attempt a gradual period of tapering, whereby they slowly lower the dosage consumed – or they may enter into a medically managed period of detox. Cold turkey is not an effective option for most, as the intense cravings and very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms make success unlikely and the process miserable.

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Page last updated Sep 16, 2010

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