Adderall and Adderall XR (Extended Release) are stimulant medications used in conjunction with counseling as standard therapy in the treatment of attention deficit disorders (ADHD) in children and adults. Originally prescribed for weight loss, Adderall is primarily used for ADHD but may also be used for narcolepsy and other sleep and insomnia disorders.
What Adderall Does for ADHD
ADHD stimulant medication like Adderall has been shown to improve attention span and other symptoms of attention disorders, helps with the ability to finish tasks as well as decreases impulsive behavior, distraction and aggression. Hyperactivity may also be diminished with Adderall.
How Adderall Works
The ingredients in Adderall that help with attention disorders are dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. The exact way the medication works is not known, but it is thought that stimulants may block the re-uptake of the hormones norephinephrine and dopamine, which are associated with behavior and attention. The medication also slows down the body’s ability to absorb the hormones, which helps with concentration.
How Much Adderall is Enough
Finding the right individual dose of Adderall may take time and tweaking, according to the Mayo Clinic. The exact amount needed varies from person to person and adjustments are sometimes required, especially at first. The starting dosage of Adderall can be as low as 2.5 milligrams (mg) daily or increased up to 40 mg. per day. In rare cases, different dosages may apply.
Effects of Adderall
If the prescribed dose of Adderall is working, people with ADHD will feel calmer and have more focus.
Negative effects include:
- lack of appetite
- nervousness and anxiety
Negative side effects may be amplified if a person takes too much Adderall.
In the United States, stimulant drugs like Adderal fall under Schedule II medications, according to the US Controlled Substance Act. Doctors must write a new prescription for every refill. Adderall is also classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as pregnancy category C, meaning it is not known whether or not the medication will harm an unborn baby.
Careful monitoring is required due to the increased potential of abuse and addiction. Most physicians require regular visits to review the treatment and monitor physical as well as behavioral aspects of the medication.
Adderall Addiction and Abuse
The illegal use of Adderall has increased dramatically in the last few years, especially on college campuses and in high schools. Many parents and educators are unaware of the selling and sharing of stimulant medication, a problem that continues to increase each year. According to the 2014 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study, 20 percent of students aged 12 to 17 have abused prescription medication and more than 50 percent have taken the medication from a family member’s medicine cabinet. Thirty percent of the 6500 students surveyed say they have a close friend who uses prescription stimulants.
People who take Adderall without the supervision of a physician risk serious, life-threatening effects of potential overdose. Symptoms of Adderall overdose range from mild, such as diarrhea, nausea, rapid breathing, panic attacks and nervousness to severe, such as convulsions, coma and death.
In the past 10 years, Adderall has jumped to the forefront as one of the most prescribed medications for ADHD. As with most attention deficit disorder medications, the benefits and side effects should be compared and considered.