Adderall is prescription medication designed to help in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD for short) and narcolepsy. Adderall combines amphetamine and dextroamphetamine which are central nervous system stimulants used to affect our nerves and brain chemicals which are responsible for impulse control and the state of hyperactivity.
Although many people have heard about Adderall and some of its effects, if you are looking for more details about this medication, this article will provide you with everything you need to know about it, and how to use Adderall safely.
Disorders treated with Adderall
ADHD is a mental disorder which mostly occurs in children and adolescents, but can be diagnosed in adults as well. It is one of the most common childhood disorders, which usually causes them to have trouble controlling their impulses and paying attention, which can interfere with their concentration, ability to learn, and the overall ability to control their behavior.
When it comes to the actual symptoms, children diagnosed with this disorder are easily distracted, unorganized, forgetful, hyperactive and overly impulsive. As for adults, their symptoms might include anxiety, frequent mood swings, frustration, depression, addiction problems, and low self-esteem.
Although the actual causes for ADHD are still unknown, according to numerous studies, it can be caused by a chemical imbalance, toxins, brain injuries or changes, substance abuse, drinking and smoking during pregnancy, or it can be hereditary in some cases.
Although it cannot be completely cured, it can be controlled to a large extent with the use of proper stimulants such as Adderall.
Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder which causes the feeling of excessive drowsiness, lethargy, and, in a majority of cases, it may even include symptoms like sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and cataplexy.
People who normally don’t have troubles sleeping enter a deep sleep stage known as rapid eye movement (REM) after an hour, an hour and a half after falling asleep, while people affected by narcolepsy enter the REM phase immediately upon falling asleep.
This disorder is usually diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 30, but it can occur at practically any age. The same as ADHD, the actual cause hasn’t been discovered, but the occurrence of narcolepsy is usually connected with some brain abnormalities such as hypocretin (also known as orexin) deficiency, a brain chemical responsible for controlling our appetite, wakefulness, and arousal.
The cure for narcolepsy still hasn’t been found, but luckily, the symptoms can be controlled with amphetamines and – in the case of severe REM phase abnormalities – antidepressants.
Important things to know before taking Adderall
Even though Adderall is undeniably a mighty drug which can help you a whole lot, there are some things you need to pay attention to in order for your treatment to be safe and successful.
Adderall is among the most habit-forming drugs out there, and many people get addicted to it. To make matters even worse, Adderall can cause psychosis, heart attack, stroke, and even death if not used properly and especially with people who have some heart defects and high blood pressure. If you have experienced any problems with alcohol and drug abuse in the past, that is something you absolutely need to inform your doctor about.
Furthermore, this medicine mustn’t be used at least 2 weeks after taking some MAO inhibitors such as linezolid, phenelzine, isocarboxazid, rasagiline, tranylcypromine, selegiline or methylene blue injection.
Also, people suffering from glaucoma, coronary artery and heart diseases, thyroid problems, agitation or anxiety are advised not to use it, since when drugs which help you deal with these problems interact with the Adderall’s ingredients, they can cause serotonin syndrome – a serious condition which can result in various neuromuscular, autonomic and mental changes.
In addition, if you are prescribed this drug, be sure to tell your doctor about your and your family’s medical history in detail, especially if someone of you suffered from: psychosis, depression, bipolar disorder, any heart problems, liver disease, kidney disease, Tourette’s syndrome etc.
Children under the age of 6 and women who are pregnant or planning to get pregnant mustn’t be using this drug either.
How to take Adderall
Adderall is a prescription drug and you should take it only if your doctor has prescribed it. Before taking it, no matter whether it is your first time or you are getting a refill, you need to consult your doctor about the proper dosage, as well as to carefully follow the instructions on the prescription label.
Selling or sharing this drug is illegal due to its habit forming features and the potential dangers it may cause, so be sure to keep it in a safe place where no one except you can reach it.
Adderall comes in tablets of 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, and 30 mg which are taken orally as prescribed, most commonly 1-3 times a day with or without food. Doses should be at least 4 hours apart, and you should take the first one as soon as you wake up. It is recommended to avoid using Adderall late at night as you might have troubles sleeping.
When it comes to the proper dosage, Adderall differs from patient to patient based on their age and the severity of symptoms of their disorder, so be sure to use it the way your doctor advised it, and never increase or decrease your doses by yourself. Since you can only benefit from Adderall if you use it on a regular basis, it is best to take it every day at the same time to ensure you don’t forget about it.
Furthermore, you need to go to regular checkups so that your doctor can monitor your progress. In some cases, they might advise you to gradually stop your treatment for some period of time to check whether you still need it.
You mustn’t stop taking the medicine completely at once, as some frequent withdrawal symptoms like mood swings, slight depression, insomnia and tiredness may occur.
If you think you have taken more doses of Adderall than you should, you will experience restlessness, hallucinations, aggressiveness, panic, confusion, fast breathing, weakness, muscle pain, rapid heartbeats, diarrhea, nausea, and depression, and you should immediately contact your doctor as an Adderall overdose may result in fatal consequences.
Most common side effects of Adderall
Like almost any other drug, Adderall may or may not cause some side effects, depending on the patient. However, it is crucial to know what these side effects include so that you can ask for medical help if needed.
Milder and more common side effects include mood swings, aggression, agitation, teeth grinding, uncontrollable movements, changed sexual desire or ability, circulation problems, stomach problems, bladder pain, burning urination, dark-colored or bloody urine, dry mouth, insomnia, dizziness, irregular pulse and headache, and you should inform your doctor if you experience some of them.
On the other hand, there are some more severe ones, such as fainting, seizures, pain in your left arm and chest, swollen feet and ankles, blurred vision, shortness of breath, and extreme headaches. If you are experiencing any of them, immediately get medical help.
Allergic reactions to Adderall are less common than the aforementioned side effects, but in some cases itchiness, rashes, dizziness and breathing problems can occur.
Adderall’s interactions with other drugs
Whenever you are using certain medication, it is of the utmost importance to check how it will interact with other drugs with your doctor. When it comes to strong stimulants such as Adderall, there are many medications which can either reduce its effectiveness or even cause some severe health problems if combined with it.
As we have already mentioned, you mustn’t use Adderall 2 weeks after taking MAO inhibitors. Moreover, it mustn’t be combined with drugs which contain lisdexamfetamine (as it is similar to dextroamphetamine in Adderall), and serotonergic drugs used in the treatment of depression (such as lithium, tricyclic antidepressants, SNRI, SSRI, and others).
In addition, there are hundreds of other medications which do not go well with Adderall, so no matter how mild they might be, be certain to consult a medical expert nevertheless. Also, if you have been using some illegal substances, inform your doctor about it and be completely honest, since illegal drugs such as MDMA can cause serious problems in combination with Adderall.
If used cautiously and properly according to your doctor’s instructions, the benefits of Adderall can outweigh its disadvantages, making it your ally in reducing ADHD or narcolepsy symptoms, and helping you to be more concentrated and alert on a daily basis.
Therefore, if you think you might be experiencing some of the aforementioned health issues related to these diseases, be sure to do thorough research and to consult your doctor before taking this medication.
What is more, if you are experiencing only some symptoms of narcolepsy and ADHD, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are suffering from these disorders and, in that case, nootropics can be a powerful alternative which will improve various cognitive functions.