What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription version of amphetamine, a central nervous system stimulant that has been in use since the 1930s for treating a variety of conditions, including depression, narcolepsy, and even morning sickness in pregnant women. During World War II, armies on both sides used it to keep their troops awake during extended operations. It was not until the 1970s that doctors begin to understand the addictive nature of amphetamines, and the government began to put restrictions on its use.
While street versions of the drug like methamphetamine are illegal, specific prescription versions like the amphetamine found in Adderall are still used for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy, and as a weight loss aid. It is also used for the treatment of some Parkinson’s disease patients. Addiction in patients with Parkinson’s can be particularly problematic, since alternative drugs may interfere with other Parkinson’s medications.
Amphetamines work by stimulating the production of two neurotransmitters: dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters help the person stay awake and increase concentration, which can be life-changing for patients with ADHD and narcolepsy. When taken in low, therapeutic doses as typically prescribed, the risk of addiction is small – about 1 in 400 – but when Adderall is abused, the risk of addiction increases.
Abuse typically begins when a person starts taking more of the drug than they were prescribed. When this happens, they can begin to build a tolerance for the drug, requiring high enough doses that severe side-effects like psychosis set in. Another common mechanism of addiction is when people, particularly young people, use a friend or family member’s prescription medication as a study aid, or just to stay up and party. Without proper medical supervision, this type of casual use can quickly turn into an addiction.
More detailed information about Adderall and its effects you may find on a video below.