When it comes to medication, some people combine drugs with other substances to potentiate or enhance the effects of the drugs. This typically serves to boost the desired effect, often for recreational use.
Adderall is one medication that people attempt to potentiate to increase the stimulating effect of the amphetamine drug. Unfortunately, potentiating Adderall can also increase the chances for dangerous side effects, including addiction.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is the brand name for a medication that combines amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is a stimulant medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, and it is available in a pill in both rapid-release and controlled-release forms.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Adderall as a Schedule II drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse, which could lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
It is available only as a prescription medication. Those who believe they may need it for its intended purpose to treat symptoms associated with ADHD or narcolepsy will have to undergo psychological testing to ensure it is appropriate for their condition.
How It's Abused
Even when Adderall is taken as prescribed, people can develop a tolerance for the drug, leading them to take more to get the same effects. This prompts a pattern of abuse that leads to addiction.
Many people who begin taking Adderall discover that they do not receive the same effects after a few months of use. They may then look for ways to enhance Adderrall’s effects so they can continue to feel the same way.
They may alter its form, such as crushing the pills to snort the substance. This pushes the drug into the bloodstream faster, resulting in a quicker onset of action and more intense effects.
Sometimes people who have Adderall prescriptions sell the pills on the black market to others who use the drug recreationally. Any use without a prescription is illegal and carries the potential for legal consequences if caught.
Adderall is one of the most commonly abused drugs among adolescents. The Nationa Institute on Drug Abuse reports that 6 percent of high school seniors misused Adderall in 2017.
Adderall Side Effects
Adderall Alone Can Produce A Number Of Alarming Side Effects. The Most Common, According To Medical News Today, Include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Dry mouth
It can also generate a host of debilitating withdrawal symptoms, which occur after the abrupt cessation of the drug.
According To WebMD, Those Withdrawal Effects Can Include:
- A hard time sleeping
- Unusual tiredness
- Depression, irritability, or other changes in mood
- Stomach aches or cramping
It’s worth noting that when potentiated with another substance, the symptoms of withdrawal can worsen.
How is Adderall Potentiated?
People use a variety of substances to enhance the effects of Adderall. Among them are:
This approach to potentiation aims to change the pH levels in the stomach to facilitate more rapid absorption into the bloodstream. The level of acid in the stomach can affect how well Adderall is absorbed. A higher pH level in the stomach because of alkaline substances or foods being consumed can contribute to faster absorption of Adderall.
Adding additional stimulants like caffeinated drinks to Adderall can increase the stimulating effects of the drug. Those who take this combination experience the effects of both stimulants at the same time.
L-tyrosine is a supplement that is a building block for the neurotransmitter dopamine and an amino-acid precursor. It can contribute to the stimulating effect of Adderall.
Nicotine is another stimulant that is used to increase the stimulating effects of Adderall. Again, the intention is to enhance the stimulating effects of both substances by taking them in conjunction. Research has shown that nicotine, in combination with amphetamines, cross-potentiate their behavioral and neurochemical impacts.
Calcium-based antacids like Tums are sometimes used to alter the pH balance inside the stomach to facilitate faster absorption of Adderall into the body. This may be one way that people with an extended-release version of the medication can achieve a result that more closely mirrors the rapid-onset version of the medication.
What is the Impact of Potentiation?
Some people mistakenly believe that potentiating Adderall with over-the-counter substances is safe because they are not increasing the dose of Adderall they are taking. The presumption is that the person is merely enhancing the effects of drugs, remaining at a safe dosage, by increasing absorption into the bloodstream or experiencing the stimulating effects of two substances simultaneously.
Unfortunately, this line of reasoning does not account for the physiological impacts of combining drugs. It also does not address individual differences in response to those drug interactions.
Any time two substances are combined, there is the potential to drastically increase the side effects of the substances, which may cause adverse reactions.
Is Any Potentiation Method Safe?
It is difficult to say whether any potentiation method is safer than others because an individual’s risk is based on a variety of factors.
In general, combining Adderall with other stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, or other stimulant medications carries the greatest risk of causing an overdose. While other potentiation methods create reactions based on the rapidity of absorption, the addition of more substances into the bloodstream is going to have a more significant potential for harm.
The methods that impact absorption should not be considered safe alternatives to polysubstance use. Rapid absorption that manipulates the intended use of a drug can have serious consequences for some individuals.
Someone may have developed a tolerance for a controlled-release form of Adderall, but rapid absorption may have unexpected side effects that could become dangerous if an individual is not used to those effects.
Is Overdose Possible When Potentiating Adderall?
Stimulant medications like Adderall can cause an overdose. The chances of an overdose increase when Adderall is combined with other stimulant substances, such as nicotine, caffeine, or other drugs. Additionally, some methods of potentiation may increase unwanted side effects, such as a rapid heartbeat or anxiety.
Symptoms of an Overdose on Adderall Include:
- Rapid respiration
- Aggressive behavior
- Panic attacks
- Overstimulation followed by fatigue and depression
- Cardiovascular collapse
- Abdominal cramps
- Fatal poisoning
Is Treatment Needed to Stop Taking Adderall?
People who have been abusing stimulant medications such as Adderall may need to seek treatment for substance dependency. Because Adderall has the potential for addiction due to its habit-forming nature, those with prescriptions for the drug only need to take the medication as prescribed and refrain from trying to enhance the drug’s effects through potentiation.
People with dependency on Adderall may experience symptoms of withdrawal and experience cravings for the drug.
When substance dependency has become a problem, most people will need help to stop using it, and they’ll need medical oversight as they detox from substances. A medically supervised detox can prevent much of the discomfort associated with withdrawal and provide a safe transition to a life free from substance dependency.
There may be other less, addictive alternatives to managing conditions such as ADHD or narcolepsy if the medication has been prescribed to an individual with a substance abuse problem.
Researchers are looking for alternative treatments for ADHD that include the use of natural therapies, such as nutritional supplements and botanical agents. However, pharmacological interventions are still the most commonly used treatments.
In short, there is no safe way to potentiate Adderall. If you are struggling with a desire to enhance the drug’s effects, it’s time to reach out for help.