Adderall can be helpful to individuals who struggle with narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but the prescription drug comes with a laundry list of potential side effects, and is especially risky for teens.
The millennial-focused media outlet Mic.com explored this topic earlier this week, enlisting our very own Patricia Allen for her expertise on the risks associated with the prescription pill.
What Is Adderall and How Does it Work?
Adderall is prescription medication that has a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. When taken, it raises the dopamine and norepinephrine (stress hormone) levels in the brain.
When the user is responding well to Adderall, he or she will experience the following benefits:
- Increased focus
- Feeling more awake
- Fewer impulsive decisions
- Reduced hyperactivity in the brain
- Alleviated depression
The medication doesn’t just target the areas of the brain that have to do with focus and alertness. Clifford Segil of Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA told Mic.com that Adderall affects the entire brain, a trait it shares with cocaine, rather than just the parts that need it. This can have positive and negative ramifications.
Adderall Risks and Side Effects
Since Adderall impacts the entire brain, many medical experts argue that the drug stunts growth, according to the Mic.com article. The hypothalamus of the brain helps regulate hormones, and if this area is impacted, then the body’s overall growth can be slowed. One expert quoted in the article, Dr. Tim Legg of Touro University Worldwide, said many doctors often recommend that children stop taking the drug during the summer so their growth can catch up.
Some Adderall users report low libido and frequent sleep disturbances as a direct result of the medication. Adderall is also very risky for those who have one or more of the following conditions:
- Heart disease
- Coronary artery disease
- Overactive thyroid
- High blood pressure (aka hypertension)
- Severe agitation
- A history of drug or alcohol addiction
When an individual tries to quit Adderall cold turkey, several withdrawal symptoms can arise, such as:
- Panic attacks
- Intense hunger
- Suicidal thoughts
Children Who Are Prescribed Adderall
Even though Adderall falls into the same class as methamphetamine, doctors have been prescribing to young teens for decades, even on a long-term basis for some young patients. It’s intended to help them better focus on individual tasks, such as schoolwork, tests, etc.
Patricia Allen, Executive Director of Nursing Services at Serenity at Summit, told Mic.com that it’s quite common for young Adderall users to continue taking the medication well into early adulthood.
Taking the drug for longer periods of time means larger doses will be required for the same effect down the road. This can make the user’s heart work overtime, while also damaging the liver and increasing blood toxins.
Adderall Addiction Treatment at Serenity at Summit
Prescription medication addictions are on the rise in the U.S., so Serenity at Summit’s staff is well-equipped and trained to help alleviate the crisis.
We have detox, residential and outpatient program options for individuals 18 years and older who are trying to overcome an addiction to Adderall. We boast six treatment center locations between New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Learn more about what sets our prescription drug recovery program apart by clicking here.
To help educate the wider public on this important issue, please share this article with family members, friends and colleagues — especially those who have children who take Adderall.