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Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextro-amphetamine and has been used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy since the beginning of the twentieth century. Both amphetamine and dextro-amphetamine are stimulants of the central nervous system and help to restore the balance of various neurotransmitters. They trigger the release of adrenaline which, in turn, increases the heart rate and improves blood flow to the muscles. This increases concentration and in keeps the patient's attention focused for a longer duration of time.

Adderall is also helpful in controlling the behavior of the patient. This explains its use in the treatment of ADHD. Adderall has been used in the treatment of obesity, depression and sleep related disorders as well, though its use for these conditions has not been approved by the FDA.

Adderall has a high potential for abuse. Therefore, its use has been legalized only in certain countries while it is completely banned in other countries. In the UK, physicians are not supposed to prescribe it to children below the age of five and are allowed to use it in children above the age of five only if no other treatment option is available.

Deleterious effects of Adderall

The side effects of Adderall vary from person to person. Some of the common side effects of the medicine include:

  • Effect on cardiovascular system: Adderall causes the release of adrenaline which increases the heart rate. However, it may lead to a disruption in the normal heart rhythm and cause an increase in blood pressure.

  • Effect on appetite: Adderall often leads to a loss of appetite. Therefore, it is often abused to cause weight loss. But this weight loss may be associated with other related problems.

  • Effect on the central nervous system: Amphetamine, the active ingredient of Adderall, is a potent stimulator of the central nervous system. Therefore, taking the medicine often results in euphoria. It is for this reason that the medicine is unofficially used to treat severe depression. However, it may lead to sleeplessness in certain patients. Also, increased blood flow to the brain may result in headaches.

  • Dryness of mouth: Use of Adderall is also associated with dryness of mouth.

Long term side effects of Adderall

The long term use of Adderall is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes. It may also lead to depression, paranoia and hostile behavior. There is increasing evidence that long term use of Adderall may lead to reduced growth (in height and weight) in children.

Adderall abuse and dependence

  • Adderall is a frequently abused drug, as it initially gives a feeling of euphoria (it is listed as a Schedule II drug because of its high risk of addiction).

  • As it increases the blood flow to the muscles, it is often abused by sports persons. As it increases attention and focus, many students resort to abusing Adderall, little knowing that it is a habit forming drug.

  • It increases cravings for cigarettes in smokers and causes a substantial increase in diseases related to smoking.

  • It is often abused along with alcohol. As it masks some of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning, the patient may be caught unaware. Both alcohol and Adderall have dehydrating properties. Alcohol is a CNS depressant and it can aggravate the problems associated with Adderall withdrawal.

Patients addicted to Adderall experience severe withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped. The patient may become irritable, complain of tiredness and depression, and may either sleep for extended duration or not sleep at all when the drug is withdrawn. The patient may show symptoms of severe psychosis, very similar to schizophrenia, and there may be skin rashes.

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