Surprising Sources of Addiction Series: Adderall in the Workplace

American corporations are increasingly finding that some of their highest-paid and relied upon executives are abusing Adderall in an attempt to meet the demands of their elevated position. How did this new source of addiction develop and what should a company do if they are seeing the effects of Adderall abuse at the workplace?

Adderall is commonly prescribed to children and adults alike for ADHD and ADD. It is an amphetamine, which is a medication that increases the speed of messaging in the brain and is prescribed to assist patients with their ability to focus and to control impulsive behaviors. Due to its potency, it is prescribed in very specific amounts and adjusted with great care. It is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance, which makes it a strong candidate for addiction.

How Adderall Abuse Begins

This newer source of addiction often begins by usage as a “study” drug by both high school and university students (particularly during finals week). Some sources estimate that nearly 30% of college students have used it and nearly all say they obtained it from a peer. Middle school is noted as the earliest time for Adderall abuse. However, its use and abuse do not magically stop at college graduation. 

Adderall is also used as a recreational drug because in stronger amounts, it produces a euphoric feeling. Its chemical makeup is similar to methamphetamine and MDMA (also known as ecstasy and Molly). It is often used with alcohol and other drugs such as marijuana. Recreationally, it is consumed by crushing it and snorting it or mixed with water and injected.

Adderall Side Effects

Adderall is a potent drug that needs professional attention for serious side effects, for detoxification, and recovery. It can often produce dangerous side effects such as:

  • Swelling of the face, throat, and tongue
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Exacerbation of mental illness

Long-term issues include:

  • Long-term mental health problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Processing problems
  • Cardiac issues including heart attack and stroke

Minor Physical Signs of Adderall Abuse:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sleeping problems, including insomnia
  • Stomachache
  • Hives or rash
  • Nervousness and restlessness
  • Unexplainable weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

Behavioral Signs of Adderall Abuse:

  • Financial problems with no history of irresponsible spending
  • Aggressive behavior, including taking risks and acting violently
  • Hiding pills
  • Paranoia
  • Exhaustion
  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • Relationship problems
  • Irresponsible behavior, including missing days at work 

Adderall has a number of nicknames, including:

  • Addy
  • Smarties
  • Study Buddies
  • Truck Drivers
  • Smart Pills
  • Zing

Steps to Take to Help Someone Abusing Adderall:

The first step is to contact a mental health professional for proper diagnosis of a substance abuse or stimulant abuse problem. Detoxification from Adderall is a serious matter and needs medical attention and supervision, likely with medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and to prevent potential seizures during detoxification as well as to treat anxiety or depression. 

After detoxification, the patient will learn about Adderall and its long-term effects. Counseling will provide insight into why it was misused in the first place and will address other issues and stresses. Considering that recovery is a daily and life-long process, many people are electing to work with a Recovery Coach post detoxification.

A Recovery Coach is commonly seen to assist a client with assessing triggers causing the desire to use Adderall (and any other drug utilized in addition to Adderall) and how to handle those situations with positive techniques and new habits. Sometimes a Recovery Coach will also meet with family members to further assist the recovery of the client and expand the number of people in everyday life that can be sources of strength and support.

Note: other ADHD stimulant medications that can be abused in much the same way as Adderall include: Dexedrine, Dextrostat, Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Concerta.

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