Adderall is a commonly used stimulant drug to manage the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It’s a highly effective and safe medication when used as prescribed. However, when misused or abused, Adderall can produce serious consequences, such as dependence, addiction, psychosis, and overdose in the worst-case scenario.
As the number of ADHD-diagnosed children rises each year, so has the number of prescriptions dispensed yearly by physicians across the country of this potent (CNS) stimulant. Unfortunately, as more children and adults take this medication, the risk of Adderall psychosis rises. If you’re concerned, it’s important to learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms, which we’ll discuss in this blog.
According to Statista’s most recent data, 1.8 percent of seniors in high school had experimented with Adderall in the past year. However, the prevalence of this age group using the medication dropped from 4.4 percent the year prior. For 10th-graders, this figure was at 1.6 percent, and for eighth-graders, it was 1.8 percent, down from 2.9 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)’s data showed that 16 million adults in the United States, equating to 6.6 percent, used the medication appropriately in the past year, whereas five million, or 2.1 percent, misused the medication. The data also shows that 400,000 of those had a stimulant use disorder.
An individual diagnosed with ADHD typically has lower dopamine levels in their brain, which causes their brain to seek stimulation. This is also why Adderall is effective in managing their chemical imbalance. Adderall releases dopamine and other neurotransmitters that stimulate the central nervous system. Conversely, when a person who isn’t diagnosed with this medical condition takes a stimulant, it’ll increase dopamine levels beyond an average level, causing euphoria and other symptoms that will leave them wanting more and begin the cycle of abuse.
Adderall misuse and abuse are widespread across the United States. As the overdose crisis worsens, many people often overlook the other dangerous side effects that can occur as a result of Adderall abuse. For example, Adderall psychosis is a perilous reality for stimulant abusers, so it’s important to learn the other side effects that can occur. Amphetamines are commonly associated with psychiatric disorders, especially when a person becomes dependent on them to feel normal. We’ll explain more below.
Living With Psychosis: Is It Dangerous to Take Adderall?
StatPearls characterizes psychosis as a “constellation of symptoms resulting in a loss of touch with reality.” Its data shows that 1.5 to 3.5 percent of people in the United States will eventually meet the criteria for a primary psychiatric disorder at some point in their lives, with more experiencing variations of psychotic symptoms because of drugs like Adderall. It begs the question – can someone living with psychosis or another mental health condition use a drug like Adderall to manage their symptoms?
Data from the Epidemiology Catchment Area found that 47 percent of people with schizophrenia and 60 percent of those with bipolar disorder are battling a substance use disorder (SUD). However, those figures plummeted in the general population, with an estimated 16 percent of people living with a substance use disorder. Living with psychosis is incredibly challenging, but when you add Adderall addiction into the equation, the risks of adverse effects increase exponentially.
If you’ve been diagnosed with psychosis but also take Adderall, you run the risk of the following:
- Increased risk of suicide
- Feeling hopeless and discussing why you have no reason to live
- Feeling the need to escape
- Being involved in violent crimes
- Purposely harming others
Those with a genetic predisposition for psychosis are at an increased risk of developing an Adderall use disorder. If you’re diagnosed with psychosis and an Adderall use disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder, it’s common to also be in poor physical health. It’s also common for individuals who abuse drugs because of their mental health issues to also be in poor physical health. Someone with psychosis who misuses Adderall is also at risk of cardiovascular disease. Adderall abuse eventually leads to heart problems, and the mortality rate for those battling psychosis is much higher because of their poor health.
Psychosis can be worsened due to Adderall, but does Adderall cause it?
What Is Adderall Psychosis?
Adderall psychosis results from taking the medication for prolonged periods and dealing with psychotic symptoms. In most cases, psychosis caused by Adderall can last for several days. However, severe Adderall psychosis can persist for months after use stops. In rare cases, it could be with you for years, but most symptoms resolve upon cessation of the medication. If you or someone you know develops Adderall psychosis, you must contact your doctor for monitoring and stop taking the drug now and in the future.
Can Adderall Misuse Cause Psychosis?
Unfortunately, Adderall psychosis is possible, and misusing the drug puts you at an elevated risk of that. A JAMA Psychiatry study highlights the link between psychosis and substance use disorders.
Although scientists have sought the cause of psychosis for quite some time, there is still no definitive answer to why this occurs. However, the research available shows amphetamines trigger the onset of psychosis symptoms in otherwise healthy individuals. It also indicates that drug-induced psychosis showed up in 46 percent of those who regularly misuse amphetamines.
Other research has specifically pointed to Adderall as the cause of psychosis because of its stimulant label. Since Adderall and other amphetamines disturb sleep rhythms that lead to insomnia in those who take them, they believe sleep deprivation could be the reason for the onset of Adderall psychosis.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Psychosis?
Adderall psychosis can be dangerous. However, it doesn’t last as long as primary psychosis, and symptoms will manifest differently. If your symptoms are the result of Adderall use, the most common symptoms are agitation and confusion, which will dissipate once the drug wears off. Other symptoms you must pay attention to include the following:
- Severe anxiety
- Inability to concentrate
- Increased motor activity
- Disorganized thoughts
- Violent behavior
- Social withdrawal
Adderall psychosis can lead to severe paranoia, which is common with amphetamine use. However, the paranoia can become severe and cause the individual to hallucinate and see or hear things that don’t exist. The individual might also become overly suspicious and believe someone or something is trying to get them. Adderall paranoia can cause the following symptoms:
- The individual will become argumentative.
- The individual will become extremely defensive when it’s not warranted.
- They won’t trust easily.
- They cannot relax, no matter how hard they try.
- They’ll take extreme caution.
Fortunately, Adderall paranoia will resolve itself within a few days after the person stops Adderall use.
What Can Be Done About Adderall Psychosis?
If you or someone you know is experiencing Adderall psychosis, it’s a solid indicator that a substance use disorder is present. The only way to manage these symptoms is by seeking professional addiction treatment. Although Adderall doesn’t produce life-threatening withdrawal symptoms that you might find with benzodiazepines or alcohol, it can leave you feeling drained to the point where you contemplate suicide. Psychosis is a serious mental health concern, so you must find a treatment center that offers care for co-occurring disorders, meaning they can treat addiction and mental health.
If you treat Adderall addiction but not psychosis, the chance of relapse skyrockets. In most cases, people abuse drugs to self-medicate conditions like psychosis. Without getting to the root of your problem, it’s like using a garden hose to extinguish a house fire – it might put out a few flames, but eventually, the entire house will be engulfed without professional intervention. The same can be said of addiction and not treating the whole problem. The rate of relapse is much higher in those abusing Adderall than in other drugs.
You must use your resources to get well. Addiction is a disease that will eventually claim your life if you don’t manage it. To avoid becoming a statistic, find out how professional addiction treatment can manage your psychosis, Adderall addiction, or both. You don’t need to suffer another day.