Cocaine and Adderall are both psychostimulant drugs. Psychostimulants induce increased excitement in the brain and nervous system and so consequently, the body and mind are affected throughout. Some commonly used stimulating drugs are caffeine and nicotine which are legal and easily available. Other stimulants that are commonly abused are methamphetamine, cocaine and prescription drugs like amphetamines used for the treatment of ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), some clinical depressions, obesity and sleeping disorders like narcolepsy.

Cocaine and Its Stimulant Effects

Cocaine is by and large an illegally made and illegally distributed substance of abuse and addiction. There is legal manufacture and some medical use of pharmaceutical cocaine in the U.S. however. That is strictly controlled. Cocaine is considered by the federal government to be a Schedule II drug with some medical use, but high risk for misuse and addiction.

Cocaine stimulates the brain’s reward system, causing quick gratification, intense pleasure and euphoria. This region of the brain is typically stimulated by natural pleasurable activities such as eating and having sex, producing an overall sense of well-being. However, cocaine unnaturally floods the system with innate ‘feel good’ chemistry, eventually compromising the brain’s natural ability to produce pleasure. Consequently, compulsive cocaine use results as one seeks to feel good again, and after a period of abuse, the brain is not able to naturally produce pleasurable feelings without the drug.

Along with a sense of pleasure and reward, cocaine induces hyper-focus and attention, feelings of confidence and mastery, wakefulness and decreased appetite. These are effects that are highly sought after and rewarding in themselves.

Adderall and Its Stimulant Effects

Adderall is a legal prescription drug in the U.S. It is categorized in the same class of drugs as cocaine (Schedule II). Its medical benefits are proven and many with a range of conditions are helped. However, Adderall abuse is similar to cocaine abuse. So, what does adderall feel like and it abuse potential? It has similar potential for abuse and addiction as cocaine, and induces similar effects in the brain, nervous system, body, and psychology. One also experiences an increased ability to focus and pay attention, to feel confident and masterful, as well as the need for less sleep and less food.

Many misuse Adderall by obtaining it without prescription and without medical need to use for its stimulating effects. Adderall may also be used in various methods that are not safe such as in polydrug use (mixing with other substances), or by crushing for use through insufflation (snorting) or injection. Those who abuse Adderall may also take far more than would safely be prescribed.

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Cocaine and Adderall Use Can Both Cause a Stimulant Use Disorder

Adderall abuse and cocaine abuse are dangerous in very similar ways. One of the greatest risks in using either substance is the development of a Stimulant Use Disorder. A Stimulant Use Disorder is the medical condition we would more commonly call stimulant abuse or addiction. The diagnosis of Stimulant Use Disorder is given when only 2 of the following symptoms of stimulant abuse are present in a 12-month period:

1.       Taking the drug in larger amounts or for longer than intended.

2.       Wanting to cut down or stop using the drug but not managing to.

3.       Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of the drug.

4.       Cravings and urges to use the drug.

5.       Not managing to do what you should at work, home, or school because of drug use.

6.       Continuing to use, even when it causes problems in relationships.

7.       Giving up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of drug use.

8.       Using the drug again and again, even when it puts you in danger.

9.       Continuing to use, even when you know you have a physical or psychological problem that could have been caused or made worse by the drug.

10.   Needing more of the drug to get the effect you want (tolerance).

11.   Developing withdrawal symptoms, which can be relieved by taking more of the drug.

Adderall and Cocaine Abuse Cause Similar Symptoms and Health Risks

Cocaine and Adderall alter the brain’s functioning in similar ways. They both affect the supply of neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, and the manner in which these essential brain chemicals work. Also, both drugs have similar long-term effects when they are used heavily or for prolonged periods, causing severe physical and psychological symptoms. Both cocaine and Adderall abuse can cause:

  • Cardiovascular problems such as hypertension, stroke and heart attack
  • Kidney and liver damage
  • The inability to feel pleasure, reward, well-being or gratification without using
  • Compulsive behavior focused on drug use
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety, panic, fear
  • Suspiciousness, paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Exhaustion, physical collapse
  • Irritability, hostility and aggression
  • Impaired judgement, insight, problem-solving and decision-making
  • Impulsivity and risk-taking
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations and/or delusions

Treatment and Recovery for a Stimulant Use Disorder

Treatment is widely available for Stimulant Use Disorders however every rehab program may not be the best fit for you or your loved one. There is a wide range of treatment philosophies and settings, for example, and many other factors to consider in your particular situation such as location, amenities, length of program, and staffing.  While people with Stimulant Use Disorders share a great deal, people and their needs are very individual.

For the best benefit, you or your loved one should choose a program that meets your clinical needs, personal resources and preferences. At Chapters Capistrano, we can help you find effective programs that are especially chosen to do just that. We provide free consultations, clarify your insurance coverage, and identify programs that are appropriate for you or your loved one.

Recovery from a Stimulant Use Disorder is possible and countless people have successfully completed treatment then gone on to have a good, sustained recovery. If you or your loved one have a Stimulant Use Disorder and are ready to have the happy and successful life you want, recovery can be yours, too. Give us a call today. We can be the first step on your journey to freedom from stimulant use, recovered health and the life you deserve.

Want more information about how Chapters Capistrano can help? Feel free to call 949-276-2886 and one of our addiction specialists will help get the information and help you need.

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