Adderall is a brand name drug stimulant that is related to recreational drugs. Adderall’s main and active agent that is responsible for inducing effects is amphetamine, which has a chemical structure similar to methamphetamine (ecstasy). Technically, Adderall is a prescription-based stimulant medication that is primarily used to treat the ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD or ADD)’. Other related symptoms such as lack of focus, disorganization, fidgeting, interrupting and excessive talking can also warrant the use of Adderall. Adderall affects the brain’s function of controlling hyperactivity and impulses by altering stimulation levels to achieve the desired balance. As a result, a person experiences an improved ability to focus.
How Does Adderall Work?
Essentially, Adderall is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. It operates by increasing the presence or availability of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, causing our brain activity to speed up. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals whose job is to communicate information throughout our brain and body. Neurotransmitters relay signals between neurons. For example, the brain uses neurotransmitters to tell organs to perform their functions, such as telling the heart to beat, the lungs to breathe and the muscles to contract or relax. Likewise, Amphetamine interferes with neurons, or nerve cells, to transmit information. Dopamine sends messages about rewards and movement and norepinephrine for fight-or-flight responses.
To fully understand how this works, you can revisit the textbook explanation of how the brain processes information. In this context, use dopamine, which is a feel-good substance, as an example.
If you’ve been playing cards with your friends and the game ends with you as the winner, your brain releases dopamine, which travels a short distance and relays to the neighboring neurons the excited “I won!” message. As this occurs, there’s more dopamine in place than required. So a dopamine reuptake is on its way to remove the excess. Otherwise, your euphoria over a small game victory would be a little too out of place. This is where Amphetamine kicks in to block the reuptake process, allowing the dopamine and norepinephrine to remain longer than usual. This way you’re able to feel the rush of excitement for a relatively prolonged period. In a nutshell, these two chemical substances allow the brain to function with increased alertness and concentration.
Some Facts About Adderall
Roughly, 6.4 million kids and 10 million adults in the U.S diagnosed with ADHD are prescribed Adderall, so much so that the drug has been dubbed America’s favorite combination drug.
The drug has also become increasingly popular among students. According to a study conducted in 2010, it was found that Adderall wasn’t perceived as a drug by college students but in fact was seen as something harmless and morally acceptable. Another study reported that most students tended to get Adderall through friends, hence revealing that non-prescription use of the drug was more common among college students, especially among white males who were part of fraternities and sororities. The benefits of Adderall experienced by them was to the effect that the drug induced an improved ability to retain focus and pay attention to study material thoroughly. It also allowed them to cram more information into their heads at once.
Background of Adderall
The infamous Amphetamine was first discovered in 1910. However, the process of making it commercial or an ingestible product took over a period of 17 years. When scientists created a batch in a lab, the intended project was to create ephedrine, an appetite suppressant, but they ended up with a mood stimulant drug instead. In 1935, amphetamine was first introduced in the market as a treatment for narcolepsy, which is a brain disorder that disrupts proper sleep patterns. It was also sold as a treatment for depression and other associated disorders. Doctors had come to think of it as a substance that was basically ‘a cure for all’ related symptoms and causes. With time people started realizing that it had some cognitive-enhancing effects as well, this soon resulted in the drug being used as a performance improver by individuals in all capacities, such as students, medical professionals, and academics.
The medication-cum-drug was also widely distributed to British and American troops during World War II primarily to help suppress a depressive state of mind and also to increase alertness in them.
Adverse Effects/Side Effects
As with any drug or medication, there are adverse effects that result from excessive use. However, most side effects from taking Adderall may be mild and subside quickly in most cases. It is likely that tolerance develops to these side effects but any side effects that persist longer than one week should be addressed immediately by lowering the dose and consulting your doctor. It is also important to note that dismissing any adverse effects as nominal can prove dangerous to health. Common side effects of Adderall include:
- Feeling a loss of appetite
- Drying of the mouth
- Feeling anxiety
- Experiencing an increased heart rate
- Feeling irritability
- Having headache and dizziness
- Gaining addiction
- Experiencing psychosis, a condition in which you may hallucinate or feel like bugs are crawling onto your skin
- Developing Reynaud’s syndrome
- Sensing a slowed growth in children
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