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ADHD DRUG ADDICTION

photo of a man with mental pain with imaginary symbols of confusion coming out of his head

Those who have a drug addiction to street methamphetamine and cocaine may suffer from more legal, medical, and social consequences compared to those who are addicted to prescription medications. However, the signs and symptoms of a street drug stimulant addiction and prescription drug addiction have considerable overlap. The signs and symptoms include exhaustion, weight loss, high blood pressure, and heart problems, infectious diseases (HIV, Hep B and C), paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, depressed mood, and inability to fulfill life responsibilities such as financial, social, employment and academic obligations.

Fortunately, for those with ADHD, there are behavioral, diet, and medical treatments that can improve the outcomes for those who are affected. The social, occupational and academic qualities of life can be improved with appropriate treatment. The medications prescribed are typically from the stimulant class. This is because stimulants have the side-effect of increasing focus.

Paradoxically, for those who suffer from ADHD, prescription stimulants (such as amphetamine; Adderall, methamphetamine; Desoxyn, and methylphenidate; Ritalin) will be less active and calmer, rather than more fidgety and hyperactive.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has a prevalence of 5% to 7% in children and around 3.5% in adults. It is characterized by persistent lack of attention and may or may not include hyperactivity and impulsivity. Some only have the inability to focus, while others have hyperactivity and impulsivity, in addition to the inattention. Sometimes, one may have primarily hyperactivity and impulsivity and have less issues with the ability to focus. Typically, the signs and symptoms will appear at a very early age, and at least by the age of 12 years old.

The drugs that are prescribed for ADHD include and their addictions include:

  • Dextroamphetamine and Adderall addiction
  • Dexedrine and dextroamphetamine addiction
  • Methylphenidate, Ritalin and
  • Concerta addiction
  • Amphetamine and Evekeo addiction
  • Lisdexamfetamine and Vyvanse addiction

Since ADHD stimulant medications are primarily prescribed to children and youth, they are readily available in schools. It is not uncommon for one who has a prescription for ADHD medication to trade, sell or give the stimulants to his/her friends or peer group. They are abused in this population both recreationally and to increase focus while studying. Stimulant drug abuse is also prevalent in the college population, when long periods of studying are necessary.

Prescription ADHD drug addiction can lead to the development of other addictions, including street stimulant drugs, opiates, alcohol and others. Oftentimes, one who abuses ADHD medication will also take benzodiazepines (Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, Valium) to overcome the side-effects of the stimulant drugs, such as insomnia, restlessness and agitation.
Once addicted to stimulants, it is likely that alternative treatments for ADHD will need to be used. There are several medications that are prescribed to those who suffer from ADHD that are not addictive. These include buproprion (Wellbutrin), tricyclic antidepressants (Tofranil, Pamelor, and Norpramin), Intuniv and Strattera. Though the efficacy may not be as great, they have been clinically proven to reduce ADHD symptoms. There are also behavioral treatments available.

It is important that parents watch their children who are taking ADHD prescription stimulants for signs and symptoms of addiction. Once addicted to ADHD medications, it is important to seek treatment in a residential or inpatient drug and alcohol rehab. In drug rehab, the addict will be able to come to terms with his/her drug addiction as well as be able to undergo treatment for ADHD, if it is present. Since there is no treatment for the withdrawal from stimulants, may patients will be able to immediately begin drug rehab, without first going to an inpatient drug detox.

The most common ADHD prescription medications that lead to addiction are Ritalin, Dexedrine and Adderall. When a person is newly diagnosed with ADHD and has suffered from other types of substance dependence, such as alcoholism, opiate addiction or benzo addiction, it is important that they are fully honest with their physician. Being upfront with one’s healthcare providers can prevent a subsequent addiction to prescription ADHD medication. This is especially true if the patient has abused stimulants like cocaine or methamphetamine in the past.

"THE GOLD STANDARD IN CARE"

Behavioral Wellness & Recovery is a Joint Commission accredited program. The Joint Commission recognizes excellence in health care organizations and programs.

"THE GOLD STANDARD IN CARE"

Behavioral Wellness & Recovery is a Joint Commission accredited program. The Joint Commission recognizes excellence in health care organizations and programs.

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