Adderall is a medication that can improve concentration and focus for an individual with ADHD, and this can be a welcome relief — short-term! However, potentially dangerous Adderall side effects, including Adderall abuse, are on the rise. Long-term use can alter brain function enough to cause depression and anxiety. Considering young brains are not fully developed until the mid-20’s, they are particularly vulnerable to problems associated with Adderall and/or other amphetamines commonly prescribed for ADHD symptoms.
Fallon Schultz, licensed clinical social worker and addiction specialist from Howell, N.J., reports that studies at UCLA show that aggression, psychosis and suicide rates are higher among those who use amphetamines, including Adderall.
In people without ADHD, the amygdala, which monitors and controls emotions and aggression, can become overactive from Adderall or other stimulants, leading to increased dopamine levels. Schultz adds, “This tricks the brain that it doesn’t need to make dopamine. That results in severe depression and mood dysregulation.” It can also lead to symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Dr. Charles Sophy addresses the serious Adderall side effects . “The more you take it, the more you need to have that pleasurable mental state.” What begins as one pill becomes 3-4 pills for a similar effect, leading to Adderall abuse. “You build a tolerance, and after a while, you’re crashing when you come off these pills.”
Adderall can increase blood pressure to dangerous levels, creating the risk of heart attack, stroke, or death. Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden, an addiction treatment center, shares about these and other Adderall side effects. “We know from a medical perspective it’s dangerous and can cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks, even death.”
Increase in Adderall Prescriptions
According to the CDC, 1 in 12 Americans is diagnosed with AD/HD, and there has been a 30-fold increase in Adderall sales since 2001.
Dan Harris and Lana Zak, reporters for ABC News, reported recently in Supermom’s Secret Addiction: Stepping Out of Adderall’s Shadow, that between 2002 and 2010 there was a 750% increase in Adderall prescriptions for Women ages 26-39. Additionally, Adderall abuse among mothers has risen steeply, as moms are abusing their child’s medication for energy and focus during the day.
Dr. Igor Galynker, a psychiatrist and director of the Family Center for Bipolar Disorder at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, is very concerned about the skyrocketing ADHD and medication use in the U.S. He is vocally critical of the “explosion” of ADHD diagnoses and “profit-driven” pharmaceutical companies that “do everything possible to twist doctors’ arms into treating diagnoses they don’t need.”
How Can Brain Changers Help?
Brain Changers recognizes that the symptoms of ADHD lead to difficulty with focus and concentration and can negatively affect performance and success. Additionally, we understand the difficulty that stress plays in day to day life, especially when focus is an issue. We offer non-medication Holistic Medicine based treatments that include Neurofeedback and Counseling.