One of many popular prescription stimulants, Adderall treats attention problems and restlessness in people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The drug is sometimes prescribed to improve alertness in people with narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.
Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which helps to improve attention in people with ADHD; however, the drug has been falsely associated with improved cognition, memory, and physical performance in those who do not have ADHD or narcolepsy. For many people, abusing Adderall is a way to cram for a test, lose weight, or experience greater physical energy before a professional sports game. These are dangerous misuses of the drug, which can lead to addiction and chronic health problems.
Abuse of Adderall Leads to Addiction
When a person abuses Adderall, they may start by consuming the drug orally. All stimulant drugs, whether Adderall, cocaine, or crystal meth, increase the amount of dopamine released by the brain; when a prescription stimulant like Ritalin or Adderall is taken orally, the dose will control the release of dopamine more slowly, at therapeutic levels. For those with a condition like ADHD, this timed release moderates symptoms for a long time; for people who abuse the drug, however, the slower release of dopamine may become addictive, and they will then begin to crave a faster release. Their body will likely develop a tolerance to the drug over time, meaning they will need to take more to get the original effects.
Instead of consuming more of the drug, which can lead to an overdose, some people may find other ways to abuse Adderall, so it begins to affect their brain faster. Smoking and snorting drugs are two ways that people abuse drugs so they affect brain pathways more rapidly, but these methods are incredibly dangerous and have serious side effects.
- Snorting: The act of snorting a powdered version of a drug is sometimes called insufflation, which is defined medically as the act of blowing a drug into a body cavity, such as gas or a medication. Snorting specifically involves insufflation in the nasal cavity, and most prescription medications are not formulated to be snorted, especially if they are taken regularly at home. When a person begins to snort a prescription medication, this is a form of substance abuse. They are likely crushing and snorting the drug so they can get high faster.Snorting drugs gets the substance into the body faster, because the chemical enters the bloodstream through the thin mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Any snorted drug, whether it is Adderall, OxyContin, or cocaine, will begin to affect the brain within 5-10 minutes after it is snorted. Drugs like Adderall XR, the extended-release version of the prescription stimulant, may become targets for crushing and snorting because that is a method of bypassing additives meant to release the substance more slowly through the digestive system. Not only does this increase the risk of addiction by releasing more dopamine more quickly, but it also increases the risk of overdose.Side effects become more intense as well. When a person snorts Adderall, they are more likely to experience seizures, psychotic episodes, panic attacks, and heart problems. They are also at risk of damaging their nasal cavity, upper palate, throat, and upper respiratory system, which all have delicate mucous membranes. These membranes are easily damaged with repeated drug abuse, and that can lead to septal perforation, upper palate perforation, and an increased risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis.
- Smoking: While crushing and snorting a drug is a rapid method of delivery, the fastest way for a drug to enter the bloodstream is through smoking it. The faster a drug reaches the brain and causes intoxication, the more addictive the drug is. The substance enters the lungs and is absorbed into the blood through the alveoli in a matter of seconds. Within a minute or two, the drug has entered the brain and started to affect dopamine release.Smoking any drug, from nicotine to Adderall to crack cocaine, can cause lung damage. Chemicals binding to the lungs lead to inflammation, which may become permanent and cause bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This damage also increases the risk of lung cancer.It is rare for people who abuse Adderall to smoke the drug and more common for the substance to be crushed and snorted. However, people who struggle with polydrug abuse may mix Adderall into cigarettes or, more often, joints. Urban Dictionary, which maintains a user-created database of colloquialisms, terms the abuse of Adderall and marijuana together to be Madderall, a combination which increases euphoria and makes the person feel more open-minded. However, mixing stimulants and depressants is very dangerous and can lead to chronic health issues later in life. There is extra stress on the heart due to changes in heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to serious long-term health problems.
Regardless of how a person abuses Adderall, taking this drug with no medical reason is dangerous and can lead to addiction. Stimulants can cause heart problems, lung damage, and even affect memory and cognition. It is important to get help to detox from the drug and then enter a complete rehabilitation program to treat stimulant addiction.