Long-term abuse of Adderall can lead to various health problems, ranging from mild to deadly.
Although doctors prescribe Adderall (dextroamphetamine/amphetamine combination) for ADD and ADHD, the drug has high abuse potential. Taking Adderall at excessive doses or not as prescribed can affect your whole body, including your cardiovascular system, metabolism, and your brain. Over time, the stress the drug places on your body can lead to lasting problems. Here are some of the health issues linked to abusing Adderall.
Mental Health Problems
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Adderall abuse can change levels of important brain chemicals like dopamine. In some people, this can lead to psychiatric symptoms such as:
“Due to the stimulating nature of Adderall, individuals using Adderall often experience difficulty sleeping and insomnia,” Aaron Sternlicht, LMHC, CASAC, and addiction specialist, tells WebMD Connect to Care. Not getting enough sleep can worsen mental health issues.
Adderall can raise blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate while lowering blood flow, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a “black box” warning label linking Adderall to serious heart problems. According to the FDA, people using Adderall showed an increased risk of:
- Heart attack
- Abnormal heart rhythm
- Coronary artery disease
- Sudden death
The University of Michigan School of Medicine reports that Adderall can cause circulation problems in some people. Because these problems can be serious, call your doctor right away if you experience the following symptoms:
- Feeling unusually cold
- Unexplained pain
- Wounds that suddenly appear
- Skin color changes (skin looking unusually white, red, or blue) in your fingers or toes
Weight Loss and Stunted Growth in Teens
Adderall abuse by teens is a growing problem. Unfortunately, chronic Adderall use can cause lasting issues for adolescents, including unwanted weight loss and stunted growth. A 2016 study published in International Clinical Psychopharmacology found significantly lower height and weight in children using Adderall for three years or more.
Considering the possible impacts of Adderall abuse on your health, it is essential to seek help if you feel your stimulant use is out of control. Your primary care provider or therapist is a good starting point for getting help.
“If you want to stop Adderall use, talk with your prescribing doctor or a medical professional who specializes in substance use,” Sternlicht says. “Oftentimes, it will be recommended to reduce your intake over time, called a ‘taper,’ ultimately allowing you to eventually stop your use completely. This is to ensure minimal adverse effects of stopping Adderall use cold turkey.”
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