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What Does Adderall Do To A Teenager?

Learn about the Adderall side effects in teens, and how to recognize addiction to prescription stimulants.

If you’re the parent of a teen you are likely aware of the common use disorder of the prescription drug, Adderall. Adderall is intended to help treat people who struggle with ADHD and narcolepsy. Outside of that legitimate use, Adderall has become a popular drug of use disorder.

Teens and college-age kids have discovered its use as a study aid, which has led to abuse and addiction. Adderall’s stimulant effects help students feel more alert, to get by on little sleep, and help them stay focused. The problem is that with continued use, there are severe Adderall side effects in teens.

Read on to learn the signs of Adderall use disorder in teens, and how to recognize if they are in need of addiction detox and treatment.

About Adderall

Adderall is a compound of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It works by stimulating the central nervous system. In a person with ADHD, this drug can help them focus better and calm them. In someone who does not have the disorder, Adderall works just like cocaine or meth. It will cause rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure. Some teens with ADHD may begin taking higher doses than is prescribed, which can result in Adderall side effects.

As a stimulant, the drug can improve focus and concentration, increase stamina and alertness, and improve confidence. Because of this, the drug often ends up in the hands of healthy teens. Kids might feign the symptoms of ADHD to obtain a prescription, or may purchase the pills from other teens. They may also get the drug from illicit sources, such as dealers.

Teens may not be aware that there are risks involved in taking prescription drugs. They may think that Adderall is a safe drug that will just provide them with a boost of energy. But like other stimulants, with prolonged or frequent use Adderall can quickly become a serious problem.

Adderall Side Effects in Teens

Like all prescription drugs, Adderall also has a long list of side effects. Parents may become aware of the following side effects their teen is displaying:

  • Mood swings.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Fever
  • Blurred vision.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Headaches
  • Panic attacks.
  • Aggression
  • Psychosis
  • High blood pressure.
  • Constipation
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Long-Term Effects of Adderall Use Disorder

When a teen uses Adderall for a period of years, even through college, they may end up with some long-term health issues. The FDA has added a black box warning on the package, just to make people aware of cardiac risks.

Some of the cardiovascular effects include:

  • Heart muscle is weakened.
  • Stroke
  • Seizure
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden death
  • Hypertension

Kidney damage is also a long-term effect of Adderall use.

Warning Signs of Adderall Use Disorder and Addiction

Not all young people use Adderall to cram for exams. Some teens may access this drug with the sole intent to abuse it. They might take high doses of Adderall, and even crush the drug and snort it for a more enhanced effect. They may also mix Adderall use with other drugs or alcohol.

When a teen is involved in substance use disorder there will be warning signs. Signs of Adderall addiction might include:

  • Missing school.
  • Grades dropping.
  • Low energy.
  • Angry outbursts.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Staying up all night.
  • Intense cravings.
  • Sudden weight loss.
  • Requests for money, or money missing.
  • Sneaky behaviors.
  • Lack of motivation.
  • Jittery
  • Impulsive behavior.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Hanging out with a different crowd.

When Adderall addiction takes hold, the teen will continue to use the drug despite the adverse consequences. When the dose wears off, the teen will have withdrawal symptoms. These include “boomerang” symptoms or those symptoms they were trying to avoid by taking the drug in the first place. They will have severe fatigue, an increased appetite, and an excessive need for sleep.

Dangers of Adderall Overdose

Adderall overdose is much like an overdose of cocaine or meth, and as such can also have fatal consequences. Signs of Adderall overdose include:

  • Severe panic attack.
  • Vertigo
  • Profound mental confusion.
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart arrhythmia.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Coma

An Adderall overdose is considered a health emergency, so getting immediate medical attention is required.

What to Expect in Adderall Detox

A guided medical detox can help reduce the Adderall withdrawal effects. Under the guidance of a doctor, the teen is put on a taper program. This allows the body to slowly get used to lower and lower doses of the drug.

Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Extreme hunger.
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Agitation
  • Mental fog.
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts.

How long the detox will take depends on how long the teen was misusing Adderall, and what their daily dosing was. Detox will take 1-2 weeks to complete in most cases.

Getting Treatment for Adderall Addiction

Once the detox process is finished the teen will enroll in a comprehensive treatment program to help break the addiction cycle. This involves various evidence-based therapies and activities under the supervision of an expert clinical team. These treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy. CBT helps guide the teen toward adopting healthy responses to triggers. They are taught to recognize disordered thought patterns that may have led to the Adderall use disorder.
  • Group therapy. Peer groups engage in discussions about recovery topics. They also provide support to each other while in treatment.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment. If there is a co-occurring mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression, psychiatric support is provided. This is provided along with the addiction treatment.
  • Psycho-education. Classes teach coping skills, emotion regulation, stress reduction, and organization skills. These skills can help the teen avoid relapse.

If you have noticed Adderall side effects in your teen, it is time to have them assessed. If they do have a substance use disorder, the parents will be advised as to a treatment strategy.

BNI Treatment Centers Mental Health and Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Teens

BNI Treatment Centers provide residential mental health and medical detox for teens. If your teen has developed an Adderall problem, reach out to us today at (888) 522-1504.

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