Substance Use

Adderall Neurotoxicity: How Dangerous Is It?

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Most people are familiar with Adderall due to its frequent use for those dealing with ADHD. The drug is designed to help with hyperactivity and increase impulse control, but it may also have some unpleasant side effects. Despite the fact this is a drug commonly prescribed for attention issues, it can be addictive and may cause problems when taken long-term.

Adderall is made of two central nervous system stimulants, dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. These may interact with other drugs, so it’s important that a doctor prescribe your medications. However, the medication on its own may cause something called Adderall neurotoxicity.

How Adderall Works

The combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine works in the brain to increase three main chemicals.

Serotonin: This neurotransmitter is involved in managing your sleep-wake cycle, your metabolism and appetite, and moods and emotions, among other things. While it is present in your brain, it’s actually more concentrated in the gut and regulates your digestive system. For the purposes of Adderall, it’s also helpful with cognition and helps you concentrate and stay focused.

Norepinephrine: This chemical is a stress hormone and neurotransmitter. If you encounter a stressful situation, this chemical will increase blood sugar levels and blood pressure to prepare you. Higher levels of norepinephrine can also cause you to feel euphoric, help increase attention and focus, and improve your memory.

Dopamine: Often referred to as the reward hormone, dopamine is responsible for helping with motivation and desire, as well as regulating moods. It also is an essential part of moderating functions like sleep and learning, movement, alertness, and blood flow.

Each chemical plays an essential role in the brain and body’s functionality of the body. In some people, there aren’t enough of one or more of these chemicals. Adderall is a medication that helps boost the levels, which can make it easier to stay calm and focused.

What Is Adderall Neurotoxicity?

Dopamine is the active chemical in Adderall neurotoxicity. Normally, your body produces dopamine as a pleasure response and this makes you feel happy. This may occur when you win a game, eat something you love, or do something else that makes you feel happy. Once the event is over, the dopamine is absorbed into the brain’s receptors and stored until you do something else that stimulates it to be released once more.

When you take Adderall, a large amount of dopamine is created, making it difficult for the brain to reabsorb, disrupting the natural process. This can cause negative effects. Instead of simply absorbing the dopamine, the brain will try to create balance by reducing the amount of receptors it contains. This helps resolve the immediate problem, but the drug will eventually wear off. At this point, the body is actually incapable of producing the proper amount of dopamine and absorbing it correctly.

The negative effect that Adderall may have on your brain can drastically affect your body. People find that it becomes impossible to feel happy unless they’re taking the drug, making it addictive. If they do stop taking it completely, there are some pretty severe side effects, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach issues
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of memory
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Loss of motor control
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty thinking

These side effects come about from withdrawal and encourage people to continue taking the drug. It may also cause them to begin taking more than they were prescribed in an attempt to feel better and happier. This can easily spiral into a cycle of regularly abusing the drug.

Long Term Adderall Effects

Adderall is often prescribed for long periods of time, which may cause dependency. In most cases, Adderall neurotoxicity is associated with taking higher doses than usual, but it may also appear if someone is taking the proper dosage over a long period of time.

Over time, even if a doctor has prescribed the drug, Adderall causes dependency. It’s considered a physical dependency because it changes the way the brain works. Rather than produce the neurotransmitters on its own normally, the brain becomes accustomed to the drug managing these levels instead. The proper production and reabsorption of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are no longer managed by the brain. If you stop taking the drug when your brain is unable to manage the hormones any longer, you will experience severe withdrawal. Most people will crave the drug and need to take it again, even if they know it’s best to get off it.

When it’s not possible to easily stop the drug, it becomes an addiction. This is something that may be very difficult to deal with on your own. Fortunately, there is help available. Are you dealing with an addiction to Adderall or another medication? You don’t need to do this on your own. Contact Zinnia Healing today at (855) 430-9439 for help.

Is Adderall Toxicity Dangerous?

Adderall can cause issues with your central nervous system and change the way it functions. This can certainly be dangerous, but it can also affect your entire life, not just your health.

Abusing Adderall by taking more and more of it in order to get its effects can result in central nervous system damage. This may cause one or more of the following issues:

Parkinson’s Disease: This causes people to shake and tremor, which can affect the quality of life over time as it worsens.

Loss of Memory: Memory slips and loss of memory may occur when you use this type of drug for long periods of time or in high doses.

Verbal Learning Issues: Using Adderall over time may cause difficulties with verbal learning, and this can be particularly difficult for children.

The drug may also cause cognitive deficits, where you can no longer carry out the same tasks you usually would. It becomes dangerous when it begins to affect your health. Since the body may build up a tolerance for the drug, the user may begin to use more and more in order to get the same results. This can lead to some pretty serious problems, including fainting, fever, seizures, and even heart attacks. These may be deadly, depending on the circumstances.

Of course, withdrawal symptoms may also be dangerous, so it’s important to consult with a doctor before you get off the drug. Some people develop paranoia or suicidal thoughts while withdrawing. This may lead to more serious actions that could cause harm or death.

Serotonin Syndrome and Adderall

Unfortunately, the side effects may get even worse if you take medications with your Adderall. A doctor should always check for possible interactions with any drugs you take. However, taking any type of medication that will change your serotonin levels along with Adderall, is particularly dangerous, as it may result in serotonin syndrome.

This occurs when you take monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These anti-depressants help boost serotonin levels, which can be dangerous when you take another medication designed to do the same. This may result in some very unpleasant symptoms due to serotonin syndrome.

Too much serotonin can cause this syndrome. Fortunately, it does tend to disappear quickly if you stop taking the medications causing it. If it isn’t treated, though, it may cause death. It’s important to reduce the serotonin levels as soon as possible to eliminate the problem and prevent more serious issues.

Serotonin syndrome symptoms include:

  • Stomach upset
  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • Fast heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Twitching or loss of muscle control
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Headaches
  • Shivering and goosebumps
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating

In some cases, it can become more severe and may cause a high fever, seizures, or unconsciousness. If you have any of these symptoms and are taking medication like Adderall and another serotonin booster, you need to inform your doctor immediately.

Stopping Adderall cold turkey can cause a crash. This will result in cravings for the drug, as well as fatigue and unhappiness. Some people have panic attacks if they can’t get more of the medication immediately. Depression may creep in, too, though this is likely temporary due to the changes in the dopamine and serotonin levels in your brain.

You should never attempt to stop Adderall without a doctor’s supervision. This is particularly true if you have been taking more than your prescribed dose. Since the higher levels affect your central nervous system more than the correct dosage, you should expect worse side effects and more withdrawal symptoms at this point.

How to Treat Adderall Toxicity

You should never stop taking Adderall cold turkey. It’s best to speak to your doctor about how to wean off of the drug. This will help prevent major withdrawal symptoms and may help your body recover faster.

When you do decide to eliminate the drug from your system, it is best to have some support. A doctor will work with you to determine the safest method to wean you off the medication. They will first need to know all your medications and will question you about everything from Tylenol to vitamins. This will help with the treatment plan, as other medications may interfere with the Adderall.

Once the doctor has a clear idea of what you are taking, they will need to do a physical exam, check your heart rate, and take your blood pressure. During this time, you’ll be asked to explain any symptoms you’re dealing with. Be open with the doctor, as they need to know everything to treat you properly.

Unfortunately, there are no medications that are approved for treating Adderall toxicity. The treatment involves detoxing under supervision. This will usually take place in a treatment center where they are used to managing this type of issue. To avoid major withdrawal symptoms, you will usually be tapered off the Adderall. This means starting with a slightly lower dose than you’re used to and gradually reducing the amount over time.

The effect of tapering is that your body can get used to lower and lower amounts of the medication. The withdrawal symptoms are usually manageable with this process. While it takes longer, it can help you get through the withdrawal process. It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for withdrawal symptoms to disappear completely.

Why Outside Help Can Be Best for Overcoming an Addiction

Sometimes, we need help to manage difficult tasks. A treatment center such as Zinnia Healing will make the process of tapering off a medication much easier. Even moving slowly, it can be very hard to withdraw from Adderall. Your mind and body will want to take more of the drug to get the effects that you crave.

A treatment center is also set up to help you through the process and to give you tools to prevent relapse. Most treatment centers offer people with addictions psychotherapy or behavioral therapy. This will help address the reasons you wish to take the medication. It can be difficult to adjust mentally to living without a medication that has provided a chemical equivalent of happiness.

A therapist will aid you with finding coping skills that allow you to live a better, more fulfilling life without Adderall. They will also help you create a plan for when you leave the center. It’s important to have a plan for leaving since you will be in the same environment as you were previously in most cases.

The longer you’ve used Adderall, the more addicted you are likely to be. In most cases, people do not do well kicking the addiction on their own, so it’s generally more successful to look for a center that will help you with rehab. For long-term recovery, consider joining a substance abuse treatment program. 

You should not assume you are completely recovered once the symptoms are gone. This is just one part of an addiction. Adderall toxicity can be quite pervasive, and you need to be committed to changing your life. For many people, the fact they feel happier and more productive while taking the medication means it can be difficult to walk away from it.

Are you looking for some help with your rehab? If you or a loved one suffers from Adderall addiction, contact Zinnia Healing at (855) 430-9439 to learn about how we can help you.