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Adderall: When Increased Focus turns into Addiction


In order to keep up with the increasing demands of school or work, productivity and focus are essential. Many college students try to balance a heavy workload with extracurriculars, work, internships, and more. In an effort to keep up, they may turn to medications such as Adderall to help them gain focus and enhance results. Misuse of this medication, however, can turn into addiction and require help from a drug and alcohol rehab center to support recovery.

Adderall is a medication used to treat people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. These people often find it difficult to concentrate on their work and complete tasks. They may start but then become distracted and it is harder to maintain focus. Their mind may be filled with many thoughts and ideas at once and they can have trouble slowing it down. However, by taking Adderall they are able to improve their focus and concentration. Although Adderall is a stimulant, in those with ADHD it actually has a calming effect.

Is Adderall Safe?

When used as prescribed, Adderall can be safe for those with ADHD. Their doctor will prescribe a dosage that aligns with their needs and provides a therapeutic level of medication. When taken as prescribed and monitored, the risk of addiction is decreased. The medication helps to balance out neurotransmitters and allow people to focus and follow through on activities without becoming as distracted. It can also help them to settle some of their energy.

However, many college students without a valid ADHD diagnosis have turned to Adderall as a way to help them study and increase focus. When cramming for a test or pulling an all-nighter, they may take Adderall to boost their productivity. But because their brain does not have the same chemical imbalances as someone with ADHD, the medication may not work in quite the same way and there is a greater chance of addiction. There are also many side effects that can occur.

Risks of Misuse

Adderall prescriptions vary according to the individual’s needs. When used by someone without ADHD, they can build up a tolerance which requires taking higher dosages in order to feel the same effects. Also, they may not experience the same level of concentration as someone else, so they may take more in order to try to achieve it. But this can lead to dependency and segue into addiction. The person may have adverse effects such as insomnia or other sleep difficulties. Their attention may also become obsessed with something other than their studies, such as cleaning or organizing. While their intent was to focus on a project or test, this was not the result. They may also find that they actually have more trouble concentrating.

As the Adderall wears off, the person can feel lethargic, tired, and unmotivated. They may take more as a pick-me-up to continue being productive even if they do not have a big assignment on the horizon. Continued misuse of the drug can have more undesirable effects such as:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased irritability or aggression
  • Headaches
  • Changes in appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Trouble sleeping

These can be warning signs that there is a problem and the person should seek help. It is possible to overdose on Adderall and this can have serious effects or even lead to death. Adderall is a highly addictive medication when not used as prescribed.

Steering Clear of Adderall

For college students without a medical need for Adderall, they should not be taking it. There are many other ways that they can strive to enhance their productivity and performance without this stimulant.

  • Practice time management. Create a schedule that allots time for each task and activity. Start studying for a test or working on a project in advance and do a little bit each day. Set short- and long-term goals so that you are not waiting until the last minute and trying to cram everything in.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule. When your body is overly tired or stressed, it can be more difficult to concentrate. Make sure you are getting plenty of sleep each night to allow your mind to rest and better retain information.
  • Burn off excess energy. If you are having trouble concentrating, alleviate stress and excess energy through exercise, yoga, or meditation. This can help you to clear your mind and approach assignments with more focus.
  • Prioritize commitments. Make sure you are not overloading yourself with activities and assignments. You may need to take a step back if certain activities are not giving you enough time to focus on your studies or are making your grades or health suffer.

Seeking Help

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly whether a person does or does not have ADHD because some instances are less severe than others. Some people may also try to deceive the physician in order to obtain a prescription. It can be very easy for college students to obtain Adderall from friends or even to get a prescription themselves. If you or someone you know has become dependent on Adderall in order to function better and does not struggle with ADHD, they may be battling with addiction. A drug and alcohol rehab facility can help them to detox their body and overcome their addiction. Without help, more serious consequences could occur. Chapters Capistrano treats adults with drug addictions and equips them with the strategies they need to remain substance-free. Through comprehensive treatment tailored to their individual needs, clients build resources, connections, and techniques to enhance their recovery efforts. If you or someone you know has developed an Adderall addiction, contact Chapters Capistrano today at 949-371-4198 to learn more about how we can help.