Permanent Effects of Adderall Abuse

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Discover the Permanent Effects of Adderall Abuse on the Body and Mind

According to a 2011 study on the nonmedical use of stimulants such as Adderall in college students, it revealed a deep myth about its “performance enhancing” abilities; many students, parents and even physicians believe that the use of Adderall and similar stimulants is not a major concern when in fact the abuse of Adderall can have lasting effects on an individual. It has also been falsely called a “smart drug” according to many media outlet titles. The truth is that there are several permanent effects of Adderall abuse, which we will discuss in this article. 

Adderall is Addictive

Adderall belongs to a class of drugs known as stimulants, which is the same class of drugs that cocaine and methamphetamine belong to. It is therefore a dependence forming drug, which is why it is only sold legally as a prescription. It is most frequently prescribed to treat the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy.

Effects of Adderall on the Brain

Adderall being addictive means that people who misuse it run the real risk of becoming hooked on the drug because it affects dopamine and norepinephrine receptors. Norepinephrine has an effect on a person’s blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, breathing, and blood vessels. Dopamine is the chemical responsible for feelings of euphoria and is a part of the system that reinforces rewarding behavior – a major reason why drugs that affect the dopamine system are addictive.

The problem with Adderall being addictive is that once an addiction and dependence forms, the permanent effects of Adderall abuse come into play, and the person is usually not in a position to stop their abuse.

Stimulants like Adderall can heighten your energy levels, decrease your appetite, and the need for sleep. While this may have perceived limited enhancing effects in the short term, the long term effects of Adderall abuse on the brain become severe. While not permanent effects of Adderall, continued abuse in high amounts will eventually lead to two things that are common throughout all addictions:

  • Tolerance – As the body adjusts to the high levels of Adderall and the effects of Adderall on the brain, the person needs to take higher amounts as time goes by to get the same result. This not only opens them up to an overdose as dangerous amounts of the drug are ingested, but it amplifies the negative and sometimes permanent effects of Adderall abuse.
  • Withdrawal symptoms – Common symptoms that occur during the period in which your body readjusts after Adderall abuse include severe depression, nausea, stomach pains and cramping, vomiting, insomnia, heavy fatigue, and other mood changes.

Suicidal behavior is another major concern with an Adderall addiction – the person may feel like that aren’t able to experience any sense of joy at all during the period that the stimulant is leaving their body.

Psychiatric Issues

While rarer, one of the permanent effects of Adderall can be psychiatric problems. Several studies point to varies issues that long-term abuse of the drug can cause, and they include psychosis, which is a mental disorder categorized by seeing and hearing things that aren’t there and oftentimes, severe paranoia.

Other studies say that one of the long term effects of Adderall abuse is the development of bipolar disorder, as well as behavioral issues such as uncontrolled hostility and aggression. Hyperactivity has also been reported as a long-term effect of the abuse of the drug, as well as a general “jittery” feeling.

Effects of Adderall on the Body

Long-term Adderall abuse does more than just affect the way the brain works; there are also lasting effects of Adderall on the body. The following section explores some of the other complications that occur in people who have misused the drug for an extended period of time.

The Cardiovascular System and Heart

One of the warnings and precautions for taking Adderall is that it should be avoided if the person suffers from heart conditions. The drug increases heart rate and can therefore result in adverse effects even in those without a heart condition, in the long term. If your heart is racing everyday because of the abuse of the stimulant, it’s only a matter of time before it catches up to you.

The two main cardiovascular problems associated with prolonged use of the drug include:

  • Tachycardia – A condition that causes an irregular heart rate
  • Hypertension – High blood pressure

The heart becomes weaker over time due to the abuse of Adderall, which can lead to an array of problems including sudden cardiac arrest.

The Kidneys

Part of the kidneys’ job are to remove excess water and waste from the blood, excreted as urine. In the abuse of stimulants, a person can suffer permanent damage to the kidneys, which impedes the production of:

  • Renin – Used to control blood pressure
  • Erythropoietin – Used in the production of healthy red blood cells
  • A form of vitamin D – Used in maintaining chemical balance and in maintaining bone calcium

The long-term abuse of Adderall can ultimately lead to total kidney failure.

The Liver

Permanent liver damage and even failure is possible with long-term abuse of the drug. Signs that the liver is coming close to failing include:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Itching
  • Appetite loss
  • Yellowing of the eyes

Some of the dangers of liver damage include edema, cirrhosis, coma, lowered bacterial infection resistance, and gastrointestinal bleeding.

The Lungs

Lung damage due to Adderall abuse is normally associated with users who crush the tablet and then either inject or snort it. The reason for this is because of what’s inside most of the tablets: fillers. These fillers may block the blood flow in smaller blood vessels, which in turn causes pulmonary hypertension, leading to permanent damage to the user’s lungs.

One of the major reasons why people decide to snort or inject the drug is due to a tolerance. The effects are more instantaneous and can have a greater effect, which of course increases the dangers, too.

Stopping the Abuse of Adderall

It’s never too late to stop the abuse of Adderall – even if you find yourself addicted and unable to control your intake. Effective treatment comes in many forms, including outpatient, inpatient and day rehab.

A rehab center can assist with the dependence (withdrawal symptoms), the mental addiction and behavioral problems, and the long-term maintenance of one’s abstinence from drug abuse. For more information on rehab for Adderall, contact Better Addiction Care today at 1-800-429-7690.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/summary

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951617/