Adderall is a medication that is commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but it has become popular as a recreational drug in recent years. It’s normally prescribed by doctors as a time-release capsule that is usually taken in the morning to avoid disrupting sleep patterns. When it is taken recreationally, it is often crushed and snorted like a line of cocaine. Snorting Adderall makes its effects stronger, but it also makes it more dangerous and addictive. Let’s take a closer look at what Adderall is and why it should never be snorted.
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Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, central nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in your brain that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. This makes it a popular drug for treating ADHD as well as narcolepsy, a chronic condition characterized by drowsiness and the intense need to sleep even in the middle of the day. Since it is a stimulant that can increase alertness, Adderall is often used as a “study drug” by high school and college students who want to improve their concentration. It is also used as a “crash diet drug” since it suppresses appetite, and as a party drug since it can create feelings of euphoria and can make users feel less sensitive to alcohol and other substances.
Adderall is usually taken orally as a time-release capsule. It’s often taken in the morning so it can work throughout the day without disrupting sleep patterns. However, many who abuse the drug like to crush it and snort it like cocaine. This is by far one of the most popular ways of taking Adderall, although it can also be mixed with water and injected or mixed with tobacco and smoked. Snorting Adderall increases the drug’s effects and creates an intense and rapid “high.” When used this way, Adderall is comparable to cocaine and other illegal stimulants in its potency.
Immediate Risks of Snorting Adderall
When Adderall is snorted, its effects are much more intense. This includes the euphoric high and increased energy, but it also includes side effects such as an increased heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis, and seizures. It can also hasten your addiction to the drug and make it easier to overdose, which can be fatal.
Snorting Adderall can also cause the same kinds of respiratory complications seen in people who snort cocaine. These symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Crusting in the nostrils
- Frequent sinus infections
- Frequent nosebleeds
- Difficulty swallowing
- Damage to the nasal septum
As with other stimulants, mixing Adderall with alcohol or other drugs can make it much more dangerous and even deadly. Adderall increases your energy level and seems to lessen the effects of alcohol. Unfortunately, this means that you can end up drinking more alcohol than you intend. Meanwhile, alcohol impairs your sense of judgment, which might cause you to take higher doses of Adderall and possibly overdose.
Long-Term Dangers of Snorting Adderall
Abusing Adderall places a great strain on the heart and central nervous system, especially when it is used over a prolonged period of time. Ironically, it can actually cause many of the symptoms that it was intended to treat such as impulsive behavior and an inability to focus on one thing for a long period of time. Long-term Adderall abuse can cause physical symptoms such as:
- Chronic headaches
- Weight loss
- An increased risk of heart attack or stroke
Adderall abuse can also cause mood swings, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, and even signs of psychosis such as hallucinations and paranoia, especially in those who already have a history of mental illness. Naturally, this can all have drastic effects on a person’s academic and professional life. Students often turn to Adderall to help them study and stay awake, while some professionals abuse Adderall to improve their job performance. Sadly, long-term Adderall abuse often has the opposite effects. Since Adderall abuse actually makes it more difficult to concentrate and focus on one task, it has a negative impact on academic and job performance. It can also make someone more impulsive, irritable, and paranoid, things that can make it more difficult to hold down a job and stay in school. Of course, it can also make criminal activity more likely for those who are particularly impulsive or prone to severe mood swings while on Adderall.
Dependency and Addiction
Adderall is an addictive substance, especially when it is abused and especially when it is snorted. Like just about any physically addictive substance, quitting Adderall on your own without any kind of treatment is not advised. Someone who uses the drug and stops suddenly will crash, or suddenly come down from their euphoric high. For some people, this can be intolerable, especially if they’ve been abusing Adderall for a prolonged period of time. They may experience severe nausea, have trouble sleeping, and generally feel drained of their energy. They may also feel depressed, irritable, and prone to mood swings. These symptoms can sometimes last for weeks.
Addressing Adderall Misuse
If you suspect that a loved one has been abusing Adderall, look for the following signs:
- Increased anxiety, depression, or irritability
- Frequent sniffing
- Nose bleeds
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Weight loss
- Changes in appetite
Regardless of whether or not you’ve seen these signs in others, it’s important to know how prevalent Adderall abuse has become. In 2006, 1.9 million Americans reported misusing Adderall. That number grew to over 3.8 million in 2014. Many of these people were between the ages of 18 and 25, which means the problem is very common among young people.
Adderall dependency is treated in much the same way as other substance addictions. The first step in Adderall addiction treatment is often detox, which safely eliminates the drug from the system while managing the more severe withdrawal symptoms. This often occurs in a medical facility and can last up to a few weeks depending on how severe the addiction is. After that, patients undergo therapy to address the reasons for their Adderall misuse and prevent a relapse. This initial treatment usually lasts between 30 and 90 days and can be in an inpatient or an outpatient setting.
While Adderall has been shown to be effective in treating ADHD symptoms, it is still an addictive substance that can be easily misused. Not only does it cause side effects such as anxiety and an increased heart rate, but it can also cause damage to your nasal cavity and respiratory system when it is snorted. To make matters even worse, studies have shown that Adderall may actually impair concentration in those who don’t have ADHD. In other words, students who misuse it to improve their concentration are only hurting themselves and putting themselves at risk of addiction and overdose.
If you or someone you know is struggling with Adderall addiction, there is help available. Live Free Recovery Services has several treatment options for those living with Adderall dependency as well as those who are struggling with other addictions. Contact us for more information or to find a treatment program that is right for you.