Adderall the brand name for the drug combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, a stimulant medication commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also sometimes used to treat narcolepsy. It is a Schedule II drug, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse and dependence despite also having medical uses.
Adderall works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine activity in the brain. When these neurotransmitters increase, brain activity also increases. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and rewards, while norepinephrine is involved in activating the body’s fight-or-flight response. When a person with ADHD uses Adderall, increasing the activity of these neurotransmitters helps the user to focus and be more alert, while also keeping the brain from being distracted by other “rewarding” but trivial matters, such as a social media notification or a random thought.
The medication can be prescribed in two forms: an immediate release and an extended release formulation.
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Adderall, also sometimes referred to as Adderall IR, is an immediate-release formulation that comes in tablet form. Because this formulation tends to treat symptoms for only five to eight hours, you typically would take one dose in the morning and one dose in the afternoon. This second dose is sometimes referred to as a “booster dose”.
Some individuals with ADHD prefer to take the immediate release formulation because there is more control over how the medication is used. For example, if a college student with ADHD has classes in the morning and then a sport in the afternoon, he or she might decide only to take a dose of Adderall in the morning. In contrast, if he or she has a big exam in the morning followed by work in the afternoon, he or she might take a dose at breakfast and then a second dose before going to work.
Adderall XR is an extended release formulation that can relieve symptoms of ADHD for 10 to 12 hours. This means that a person with ADHD will generally only have to take the medication in the morning and will have symptom relief most of the day.
This formulation comes in capsule form, which contains both immediate-release and delayed-release beads. Adderall XR is typically used by individuals who either can’t take multiple doses of medication throughout the day or who have symptoms that significantly impair function throughout the entire day.
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Both Adderall IR and Adderall XR have a high potential for abuse. However, because the immediate-release formulation comes in a tablet form, it is more likely to be abused, especially by high school and college students looking for a study drug. This is because a tablet is easier to crush and snort, increasing the speed at which the effects are felt. When abused as a study drug, rapid effectiveness is desired as a way to increase concentration, boost alertness, and experience a high.
Like all drugs with a potential to be abused, using Adderall or Adderall XR in a way other than how it is prescribed to you or using medications that aren’t yours can have uncomfortable, and even dangerous, consequences. If you or a friend are abusing stimulant medication, it is important to seek help for your addiction.
Want more information about how Chapters Capistrano can help? Feel free to call 949-371-4198 and one of our addiction specialists will help get the information and help you need.