Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine, the active ingredient in Adderall, is a potent prescription stimulant medication used to treat conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It helps increase your ability to stay focused on an activity, pay attention, control behavioral problems, and stay awake. It can also help you improve your listening skills and organize your tasks. It’s important to note that you should not use it to treat tiredness or hold off sleep in those without a sleep condition.
Despite its therapeutic uses and ability to help those with this sometimes debilitating condition, Adderall is a worrisome drug of abuse. Many students who needed the medication as a child grew out of needing it, but their doctor still prescribes it, which can be problematic, especially if their friends ask for the drug. College campuses are rife with Adderall abuse during midterms and finals. Students without ADHD believe they can cram for exams and get better grades if they use Adderall. They’ll stay up all night studying because of the drug’s stimulating properties and then take their test.
Unfortunately, a vast majority of those using Adderall in this fashion don’t realize that doing so is considered abuse. A doctor did not prescribe the medication, meaning they’re misusing the drug and could potentially be taking more than a doctor would recommend they take. Not only that, they haven’t been assessed by a physician to determine if they’re healthy enough to use a drug of this kind. You can’t be certain how Adderall will affect you. If you have heart problems, you may be unaware of how the prescription stimulant affects your heart rate. These are all potentially dangerous outcomes you’re unaware of without speaking to a doctor.
According to Statista, an estimated 4.4 percent of 12th-grade students had tried Adderall within the past year. Fortunately, the figure was down from 2012 when use was more prevalent. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), two in three teens and young adults who abuse the prescription stimulant get it from their friends or relatives. Adderall use is more common among college students than in other groups surveyed. An estimated 11 percent of college students admitted to taking Adderall without a prescription.
When taking Adderall, you must take specific factors into consideration, such as how it affects your body. If you’ve ever wondered how Adderall affects your heart rate and if it causes it to increase, we’re going to delve into the topic below.
What Are Adderall’s Most Common Side Effects?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a reporting system to report adverse events related to drugs. The FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) shows 6,145 instances of adverse events associated with Adderall from 1994 to March 2020. It found that 3,251 of those were serious, with 202 being reported as fatal. However, FAERS reports are voluntary, so the FDA cannot accurately determine whether these were caused solely by Adderall or if it was taken with other substances.
According to FAERS, the most common side effects from Adderall use include the following:
- Feeling abnormal
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
Even when taken as prescribed, Adderall can intensely affect your central nervous system, despite producing positive effects. For some, it’ll help you feel more awake and focused during the day. However, others could experience:
- Dry mouth
- Slowed speech
- Changes in vision
Adderall has also been shown to potentially slow the growth of children. In adults, Adderall may also cause adverse changes to your sex drive or performance. Albeit rare, more severe side effects can occur, including numbness of your limbs, fevers, and weakness. It can also cause swelling of your throat, tongue, or face. If this happens, you must immediately seek emergency services.
Other severe side effects include the following:
- A worsening of mental health conditions you might have, including anxiety or depression
- Uncontrollable tics, shaking, or seizures
- Paranoia, hallucinations, and other issues with your memory
Those who become dependent on the drug are also at risk of developing Adderall withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the dosage, these symptoms can range anywhere from mild to severe. Some of the most common Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:
- Unusually big appetite
- Feelings of unease
- Problems with sleep, ranging from insomnia or sleeping too much
- Panic attacks
- Irritability and anxiety
- Lack of energy and fatigue
- Suicidal thoughts, which must be taken seriously
Does Adderall Affect Your Heart Rate?
Even when used as prescribed by your doctor, Adderall can cause serious health risks, especially to your cardiovascular system. Before you’re prescribed medication of this potency, you’ll be given a thorough physical to determine whether your body is strong enough to handle its effects. As a stimulant, Adderall will cause your heart to work harder. At high doses, Adderall increases the odds of high blood pressure, heart problems, and stroke. Individuals with underlying cardiovascular problems are at much higher risk when using stimulants, even when overseen by a doctor.
If you experience an increased heart rate, racing heart, or panic attack, it could be a sign of an Adderall overdose. When a large dose of Adderall is consumed, you could notice an increase in your body temperature, which can cause damage to your heart or other organs. If you fear you or someone you love is experiencing an Adderall overdose, it’s imperative to contact emergency services. By calling 911 immediately, you can prevent potentially severe and long-term issues or death. Please, take this seriously and do not wait.
In most cases, those who use Adderall as prescribed will not develop heart problems. Even those who use Adderall or other prescription stimulants to treat ADHD from childhood into adulthood are not at increased risk of developing heart problems. Guidance from your doctor makes the drugs safe and effective in treating ADHD or narcolepsy.
Abusing stimulants, however, is another story. Adderall increases heart rate and blood pressure, so those with preexisting heart issues or high blood pressure can endure heart attacks or strokes. Strokes and heart attacks have been reported from Adderall use. Adderall can increase your heart rate by three to six beats per minute.
Those who use Adderall as a performance enhancer put themselves in grave danger. Using the drug to increase their physical or academic performance, get high, or lose weight likely requires larger doses than a doctor would prescribe, leading to the potential for chemical dependency and using Adderall to feel normal. It also puts additional strain on your heart, thereby increasing your heart rate. Consuming Adderall in large doses also increases the chances of developing a substance use disorder (SUD), which requires professional treatment to overcome.
In many cases, people will use Adderall with other drugs like alcohol, which can increase the chances of developing heart problems. Adderall can also affect how intoxicated you feel, increasing the chance of developing alcohol poisoning.
Can I Stop Using Adderall Without Help?
If you’ve been using Adderall as prescribed and you’re ready to stop using the drug, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine what works best for you. In some cases, your doctor will develop a treatment plan that requires tapering off the stimulant drug at home. They’ll teach you how to taper, which means to gradually wean you off the medication to ease withdrawal symptoms. However, if you’ve been abusing the drug and developed problems with your heart, you’ll need to undergo professional treatment in the presence of medical professionals to avoid any serious issues.
You’ll start the process in medical detox, a process that takes anywhere from three to seven days. Even if 100 people go through Adderall withdrawal without issue, there is also the possibility the 101st can have problems. Withdrawal is unpredictable, so placing your life in the hands of caring professionals is the right thing to do. They’ll administer medication and monitor your vitals 24 hours a day until you’re medically clear.
Once complete, you could complete an outpatient treatment plan to focus on the root of your addiction. Never be afraid to ask for help, especially if Adderall is affecting your physical health.