Adderall is a prescription drug used primarily for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Adderall is a combination of active ingredients, which are dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. This medication is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant.
There are potential long-term effects of Adderall to be aware of, and the risk of these effects and their severity tends to increase when someone uses the drug recreationally as opposed to as prescribed. Long-term physical effects of Adderall use include weight loss, headaches and heart problems. Long-term mental effects include depression, aggression and mood swings.
How Long-Term Adderall Use Affects the Brain
There are many long-term effects of Adderall on the brain, and as with physical Adderall effects, the severity tends to increase when someone abuses the drug. When someone takes Adderall, it works by changing the presence of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. With repeated use, these changes can become ongoing or can lead to psychiatric side effects.
While rare, long-term Adderall use can lead to mental health issues such as:
- Increased hostility
- Symptoms of bipolar disorder
- Symptoms of psychosis
One specific condition that can occur with long-term Adderall use is called stimulant-induced psychosis. Symptoms of stimulant-induced psychosis include:
- Disorganized thinking
When someone uses Adderall for long periods, it can also lead them to feel a loss of motivation, particularly when they’re not taking the drug. Someone who uses Adderall may start to feel like they can’t function without it, or perform as they’d like to in school or at work. Someone who used Adderall for a long time may not be able to experience pleasure without the use of the drug because the natural production of dopamine declines with repeated Adderall exposure.
Addiction and dependence are also considered potential long-term effects of Adderall on the brain. Someone becomes addicted to Adderall with repeated exposure because the drug can activate their reward response. When someone is addicted to Adderall, their reward response triggers them to continue using it, in spite of negative side effects. Physical dependence can form with or without addiction. Someone dependent on Adderall will go through withdrawal if they stop using the drug suddenly. Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:
- Loss of motivation
- Increased risk of suicidal thoughts
The Physical Effects of Long-Term Adderall Use
There are long-term physical effects of Adderall. As a stimulant of the CNS, Adderall speeds up processes controlled by the CNS. This increase can lead to short- and long-term effects including increased blood pressure and heart rate. Other long-term physical effects of Adderall can include:
- In children, Adderall use may lead to long-term growth suppression
- Increased risk of stroke and heart attack and a weakened heart muscle
- Increased risk of seizures
- Sudden cardiac death
- Extreme weight loss
Risks of Adderall Addiction
Adderall addiction potential is considered one of the effects of Adderall use. Using Adderall only as instructed reduces the risk of addiction developing. If you or someone you care about is addicted to Adderall, it’s important to get professional help to avoid the severe mental and physical effects its use can have. Contact Orlando Recovery Center to speak to a representative about how personalized addiction treatment programs can work for you. You deserve a healthier future.
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Berman, S M. “Potential adverse effects of amphetamine treatment on brain and behavior: a review.” Molecular Psychiatry, April 17, 2009. Accessed April 16, 2019.