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What Does Adderall Do To Your Brain

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What Are Some Common Signs Of Adderall Abuse

Your Brain On Adderall – The Study Drug

Common signs of Adderall abuse include:

  • Inability to control the consumption of Adderall, leading to usage beyond prescribed limits.
  • Adderall can be very dangerous when taken for too long, especially if you have a history of mental illness. This effect usually sets in after four weeks, and you feel compelled to take more pills every day because it makes you feel better, or at least blindly addicted enough that stopping causes withdrawal symptoms and anxiety attacks.
  • Some people experience stomach problems like nausea and vomiting. It worsens while on Adderall due to its psychostimulant properties, which cause stimulation from within the central nervous system leading to increased appetite and significant weight loss over time.

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The Brain On Adderall

When drugs like Adderall are abused, the brain is tricked into believing that its making enough serotonin, epinephrine and dopamine. According to the American Addiction Centers website, The brain senses that there are enough neurotransmitters present, due to Adderalls influence, and stops producing them, changing some of the brains natural reward circuitry. The more often Adderall is taken, the more ingrained these changes become. As a result, your brain on Adderall thinks its cruising along pretty nicely. But take away the Adderall and everything begins to crash. This is why users experience withdrawal as the drug leaves their system, naturally prompting them to take more to alleviate the feelings of depression, irritability and fatigue, which are all common symptoms of Adderall withdrawal.

How Stimulants Work To Reduce Adhd Symptoms

Aron Janssen, MD is board certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry and is the vice chair of child and adolescent psychiatry Northwestern University.

Stimulants are the most common type of medicine used to treat ADHD. They work by increasing the availability of certain chemicals in the brain, thus making the pathways in the brain work more effectively. Stimulants lessen ADHD symptoms in 70% to 80% of people who take them.

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It Releases Chemicals That Make You Feel Happy

When a person does something that brings about good feelings, like seeing a favorite band or scoring a goal in a soccer game, certain chemicals in the brain are released serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline.

These chemicals are associated with regulating mood and energy, which explains why people on Adderall tend to feel happy and charged. When Adderall is taken by those who dont really need the medication, it can induce feelings of euphoria.

Is It All Just A Euphoric Placebo Effect

What a Lifetime of Adderall Does to Your Brain

Even more interestingly, the benefits of Adderall related to learning may all be in your head. According to studies done at the University of Pennsylvania, people taking Adderall didnt actually perform better on cognitive function teststhey only thought they did. When compared to those taking a placebo, students on Adderall reported more confidence in their abilities to perform cognitive tasks and believed that they had higher scores, despite average performance equaling that of their peers not on the drug.

In fact, some speculate that the short-term improvements seen while on Adderall are simply the result of the drugs enhancement of your enjoyment of studying, not any actual cognitive improvements. Since Adderall triggers the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, those on the drug experience a mild sense of euphoria, which may be motivating the student to perform better. When combined with the strong perception of increased focus given by the drug, Adderall and similar drugs may be triggering powerful placebo effects.

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Ritalin And Similar Medications Cause Brain To Focus On Benefits Of Work Not Costs

Brown University
New research from cognitive neuroscientists has pinpointed how stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall can change people’s motivation to complete difficult tasks.

Common assumption has long held that Ritalin, Adderall and similar drugs work by helping people focus.

Yet a new study from a team led in part by Brown University researchers shows that these medications — usually prescribed to individuals diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but often used by otherwise healthy people as a “study aid” — actually work by directing the brain to fix its attention on the benefits, rather than the costs, of completing difficult tasks.

The study, published on Thursday, March 19 in the journal Science, marks the first time that scientists have examined precisely how stimulants such as Ritalin alter cognitive function. Their research could open opportunities for further studies to help medical professionals better understand how to identify and treat ADHD, depression, anxiety and other mental disorders.

What has remained unknown, though, is whether dopamine can have similar motivational effects on cognition — and that’s what a new collaborative project between Frank, Brown postdoctoral researcher Andrew Westbrook and Dutch neuropsychiatry scholar Roshan Cools set out to understand.

Westbrook said the results support the idea that, medication or no medication, dopamine typically acts as a motivation regulator for human brains.

Symptoms Of Adderall Addiction

The physical dependence on Adderall happens when someone has reached a situation where if they stop taking Adderall or reduce the dosage they take, they start to experience unpleasant Adderall withdrawal symptoms. Addiction to these drugs starts when the user begins to act in ways that are damaging to them in order to continue its use.

An Adderall addiction also refers to a persons psychological or physical reliance on this drug, along with a specific set of behaviors. These people are usually unable to cope when they stop taking Adderall and will go to any length to obtain more of the prescription drugs

The brain of an addicted person is dependent on Adderall to stimulate alertness and productivity. Without Adderall, addicted people often feel tired and mentally foggy. in addition, a person who is abusing this drug may become uncharacteristically talkative or active. In group settings, they may also lose their inhibitions and appear extremely happy.

Addiction to Adderall can occur when someone takes:

  • More than their prescribed dose
  • Adderall for longer periods of time than prescribed
  • Adderall more frequently than prescribed

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How Can I Get Adderall

Adderall and other pharmaceutical central nervous system stimulants, such as Ritalin, are prescription drugs. You cannot legally purchase it without a prescription. Some people buy it illegally from a person with a prescription who is selling the drug onwards, but this is dangerous. Not only is it illegal, but you have no access to support if you suffer from severe side effects.

What Are Healthier Ways To Boost Motivation

Your Brain on Adderall

There are many natural ways to build motivation without resorting to using Adderall, and youll find that your drive to accomplish things lasts longer when it isnt dependent upon a chemical. Healthier alternatives to Adderall motivation include the following:

  • Reward your brain by meeting small, actionable goals
  • Develop a new routine with the help of a mentor
  • Spend time engaging in physical activity that naturally stimulates endorphins
  • Increase dopamine levels in the brain by having fun with a sober companion

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How Does Adderall Affect The Brain

Individuals with ADHD usually have lower levels of dopamine, which is a chemical released in the brain that makes you feel good. This lack of dopamine causes people with ADHD to constantly seek stimulation. Adderall works by increasing levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, thus bringing the brain from a state of overstimulation to a normal state of stimulation.

But what does Adderall do to the typical person who does not have ADHD? For a person starting out with normal levels of dopamine, they may feel a state of euphoria, increased wakefulness, and a better ability to cope with stress. Although this is certainly not recommended, this can make it easy to understand why Adderall is commonly misused by students who are feeling the pressures of exams, term papers, or sports.

Side Effects And Risks Of Adderall

While Adderall has many benefits, it can also cause serious side effects. Some common side effects in kids and adults include:

  • Headache

If any of these side effects are severe, contact your doctor to help monitor the symptoms. If you develop symptoms like fainting, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, get medical attention right away.

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What Are Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

When you detox from Adderall, you will likely experience side effects that are usually unpleasant but manageable. For your safety and comfort, you should only detox in a treatment facility, such as ours, where you will be under 24-hour supervised care.

This is because detoxing can sometimes have life-threatening side effects as well as intense cravings, which are hard to avoid in the outside world.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

Serotonin Syndrome And Adderall


Unfortunately, the side effects may get even worse if you take medications with your Adderall. A doctor should always check for possible interactions with any drugs you take. However, taking any type of medication that will change your serotonin levels along with Adderall, is particularly dangerous, as it may result in serotonin syndrome occurs when you take monoamine oxidase inhibitors , selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors . These anti-depressants help boost serotonin levels, which can be dangerous when you take another medication designed to do the same. This may result in some very unpleasant symptoms due to serotonin syndrome.Too much serotonin can cause this syndrome. Fortunately, it does tend to disappear quickly if you stop taking the medications causing it. If it isnt treated, though, it may cause death. Its important to reduce the serotonin levels as soon as possible to eliminate the problem and prevent more serious issues.Serotonin syndrome symptoms include:

  • Stomach upset
  • Twitching or loss of muscle control
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating

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Reasons For Adderall Not Working

The simplest reason why Adderall may not work is that your body has adapted by turning down the production of dopamine and noradrenaline. This is a natural response in order to maintain balance, or homeostasis . However, fading effects may be one reason why many people fall into Adderall addiction, as you feel that you need increasingly high doses of the stimulant drug.

Increased acidity in your stomach can be another reason why Adderall fails . Taking Adderall on an empty stomach, or drinking something acidic such as citrus juice or black coffee can reduce absorption. Even just taking vitamin C supplements can impair absorption.

Mixing Stimulants With Alcohol May Increase The Risks

Lots of college kids and young adults take stimulants like Adderall when they go out, either to stay up or just for the euphoric effect. But drinking may increase the risk of heart problems for people taking stimulants, even when they don’t take an excessive amount of medication. In at least one case, researchers documented a heart attack in an otherwise healthy 20-year-old who took 30 mg of Adderall after drinking.

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Is Adderall Motivation Real

Feeling motivated is a common side effect of using Adderall, and many people develop an addiction after using the medication for this purpose. Adderall motivation is linked to the increase of hormones in your brain that help you feel focused. Unfortunately, your sense of reason will also begin to fade as soon as the drug starts to leave your body. Apathy is another one of the Adderall effects on personality that everyone should know about before using this drug.

Why Is Adderall Referred To As A Study Drug

How Adderall affects your brain

Adderall is infamously referred to as a study drug on college campuses. This is due to misconceptions among college students that it increases academic performance.

Although Adderall can increase focus in those who have ADHD, its of no use if you do not have the disorder. Scientific studies have found no evidence that non-medical use of prescription stimulants like Adderall increases academic performance.

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Who Gets Adderall And What Does It Treat

You may also ask, what does Adderall treat? As we mentioned earlier, amphetamines are stimulant medications most often prescribed for Attention Deficit and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder . ADHD is a brain condition which makes it difficult for a person to focus and tune out distractions. Amphetamines like Adderall can help counteract some of the symptoms of ADHD. They do this in part by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Primarily dopamine and norepinephrine. That helps increase activity in the part of the brain that handles executive function, like deciding what to focus on and what to prioritize, for example.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain which relay messages in the brain. Different ones attach to different receptors designed just for them. When they attach, the trigger an action in that particular brain cell. Science is still learning about how the brain works. Much remains a mystery. But we do understand a lot about the effects amphetamines create. When a person with a lower than average level of these brain chemicals takes Adderall, it reverses some of the symptoms of their condition. It helps a person with ADHD focus better, for example. When someone with closer to normal levels takes amphetamines or someone takes more than prescribed, they will have a higher than normal level of these neurotransmitters.

Brain And Personality Changes

In line with Adderallâs effects on mental health and mood, long-term abuse of the drug can induce lastingâand potentially irreversibleâchanges in brain functioning. âResearch suggests that long-term abuse can cause brain damage and personality changes,â Michael J. McGrath, MD and Medical Director of the Ohana Luxury Alcohol Rehab, tells WebMD Connect to Care. âAbuse of Adderall can lead to effects on the brain that may not be completely reversible. This depends, of course, on how long the drug is abused as well as other factors. This is why itâs essential to get help for Adderall misuse even if it doesnât seem to be a problem.â

According to the American Addiction Centers, Adderallâs primary mode of functioning is on receptors in the brain: the drug binds to norepinephrine and dopamine receptors . The release of these hormones throughout the body produces both the euphoric feelings associated with Adderall, and the sense of focus and concentration that can initially develop when taking the drug.

Initial perceived “benefits” of taking Adderall, however, cannot be sustained indefinitely. Over the long-term, persistent Adderall abuse can paradoxically lead to poor concentration, withdrawal, and a lack of interest in one’s surroundingsâthe very states it is often initially taken to regulate.

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Side Effects Can Be Serious

These side effects can manifest even in someone who is taking the medication as prescribed, so it is good to be aware of them. Outright abuse, including overdose of Adderall and medications like it can result in much more serious side effects that can be deadly in some cases. You should never assume a drug is somehow safe to use in any quantity or conditions simply because its prescribed. If you take Adderall and experience any of the side effects listed above or below, talk to your doctor about them as soon as you can. You should know the answer to the question what does Adderall do before taking it. They may be a sign that more serious adverse effects are on the way.

Here are a few of the more serious consequences of Adderall misuse or overdose:

  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Cardiac arrest

What Is Adderall Neurotoxicity

Video Perfectly Explains What Adderall Actually Does To Your Brain

Abuse of Adderall can be highly dangerous, as the drug can have neurotoxic effects. Adderall neurotoxicity is damage to the nervous system, and in the case of Adderall, it refers to neuron and nerve damage caused by high levels of dopamine.

Adderall works by increasing levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. Dopamine is one of the brains chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, that sends signals throughout the central nervous system, helping to regulate moods, movement, thinking, learning, and memory functions.

Dopamine is directly related to feelings of happiness. For instance, when a person eats something they like, dopamine is released, telling the brain to feel pleasure. This forms a reward pathway. Normally, dopamine is reabsorbed back into receptors in the brain and released again when something pleasurable stimulates that release. Adderall floods the brain with dopamine and prevents it from being reabsorbed quickly.

In high amounts, the drug can be considered neurotoxic, as the dopaminergic system is damaged by the drugs disruption. The journal Molecular Psychiatry warns that prolonged exposure of the brain to the amphetamine contained in Adderall can have neurotoxic effects. This may occur because high levels of dopamine can cause the brain to actually strip itself of dopamine receptors in an effort to balance itself.

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Getting Help For Adderall Abuse And Addiction

If you or a loved one is coping with an Adderall addiction, getting treatment is the best decision that can be made to get on the path to recovery.

Depending on the severity of addiction, a formal treatment program may be recommended. This can include a medically supervised detox program that helps the individual withdraw from the drug.

Inpatient rehab programs are also highly recommended for stimulant addiction. Inpatient programs offer daily intensive treatment that is often personalized to each patients needs. These programs can help someone overcome Adderall addiction and learn how to live life without drugs.

To learn more about the effects of Adderall abuse on the brain and treatment options for Adderall addiction, contact our treatment specialists today.

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