Cirque Lodge > Blog > Addiction > Dangers of Smoking and Snorting Adderall

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medication composed of two central nervous system stimulants, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It reduces impulsivity and hyperactivity and improves concentration and focus. Adderall acts by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, causing the user to experience greater energy, heightened alertness, and a generally pleasurable feeling.

Adderall is also manufactured and sold as Adderall XR, which is the slow-release version of this prescription drug.

What Class of Drug is Adderall?

Stimulant prescription drugs such as Adderall and Adderall XR are, as their description indicates, classed as stimulants, so named because they stimulate the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Some stimulants, such as caffeine or nicotine, occur naturally and have relatively mild effects. Others are illegal and dangerous, such as cocaine.

Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance, a category of medications that have a legal and legitimate medical use, but are recognized as presenting a high risk of abuse and addiction. Medically it is most often prescribed for people suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.

How is Adderall Taken?

When prescribed by a medical doctor, Adderall is taken orally, as an immediate release capsule. Adderall XR is ingested as an extended-release capsule, which takes effect less rapidly but acts more durably throughout the day.

Abusing Adderall is a widespread behavior, with prescription drug abuse, in general, affecting millions in the US alone. In 2020, 1.8% of the population aged 12 or older reported misusing prescription stimulants over the previous year. After oral administration, snorting Adderall is the most common way in which the drug is abused. Crushing the pills and then snorting Adderall allows the active constituents to be absorbed rapidly through the thin mucous membranes in the nostrils and into the bloodstream. Bypassing the digestive system, it reaches the brain faster, producing more intense and immediate effects.

Smoking the drug is another way of abusing Adderall, and the quickest way to achieve an Adderall 'high'. From the lungs, the substance finds its way into the bloodstream within seconds and triggers dopamine release just a few minutes later. People who abuse Adderall on its own rarely smoke it - snorting it is simpler and delivers rapidly felt effects too. People who abuse other drugs may, however, combine it with other substances, such as marijuana, before smoking it. Mixing Adderall with other substances, however, can have unpredictable results and dangerous side effects, and is highly inadvisable.

Dangers of Snorting Adderall

Most medication is not designed to be crushed into a powder and then snorted, so this practice in itself is dangerous. There are further risks from the strong effect caused by snorting Adderall, which is more powerful than was intended by the manufacturer. In the most severe cases, a person may even experience an Adderall overdose.

Drug abuse of any kind puts severe strain on the mind and body of the user, and Adderall abuse is no exception. The heart and other internal organs, the central nervous system, and particularly the brain, all take a beating, as it were, as the drug hits the system. A person's emotional and mental health is also greatly affected, and Adderall addiction is a fairly frequent outcome of sustained Adderall abuse.

Adderall Addiction

One of the primary risks associated with substance abuse is developing a physical dependence on the substance in question. Simply put, Adderall dependence means that the person needs to take Adderall regularly and frequently, in order to simply function in a way they experience as normal. Having become accustomed to using it as a 'crutch', a person's body begins to rely on Adderall for support on a day-to-day basis. When a person is deprived of Adderall or interrupts its use abruptly, they will experience drug cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

People who snort Adderall will find it also interferes with their mental health, beginning with their emotional and mental states. They may feel 'out of sorts' without it, unable to focus on things as they would wish to. They may also struggle to perform as well as they'd like - in their studies, at work, or in athletic activities. Interestingly, studies have shown that in physically healthy individuals (Adderall abuse, of course, can compromise physical health), without mental health issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Adderall does not, in fact, enhance neurocognitive performance. When Adderall appears to 'help' in the case of someone who abuses it, it is most likely because of dependence as described above.

Signs of Adderall Addiction

There are a number of clear signs that point to Adderall addiction. If you are concerned about your use of Adderall, see if any of the following - which are typical of substance abuse in general - apply to you.

  • Feeling lethargic or sluggish without it
  • Spending lots of time and money obtaining Adderall, notably by illegal means.
  • Taking bigger and bigger doses of the drug, because you no longer feel the desired effect with smaller ones.
  • Continuing to take the drug in spite of negative effects, (on health, work, family life, relationships, etc).
  • Jeopardizing your security and life situation in order to keep using Adderall - borrowing or stealing money, engaging in illegal purchases, driving when using the drug, and so on.

Substance addiction is generally very hard to overcome unaided. A clinical professional who diagnoses this condition will refer to it as a substance use disorder, for which the recommended course of action is some form of addiction treatment, dispensed by a professional treatment provider. A typical treatment process might begin with a stay of about a month in a treatment center.

Adderall Overdose

Another significant danger of substance abuse is overdose. An Adderall overdose causes a whole host of symptoms, ranging from temporary and reversible, to potential long-term damage to health. A person overdosing on Adderall may experience the following:

  • Agitation, hyperactivity, erratic reflexes
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic, rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate, increased body temperature
  • Muscle pains, abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting
  • Tremors, seizures or convulsions, and even loss of consciousness.

On top of these, Adderall overdose can also cause severe cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and even cardiac arrest. If you are worried you may be experiencing or witnessing an Adderall overdose, you should call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.

Mental Health and Snorting Adderall

Because Adderall is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and affects first and foremost a person's brain, it is no surprise that it can lead to mental health problems, particularly when Adderall abuse or Adderall addiction are involved. By interfering, in effect, with brain chemistry, Adderall abuse can affect people's moods, and cause psychiatric symptoms. These include:

  • Anger, and sometimes aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

Snorting Adderall can disrupt people's sleep patterns too - and indeed, it is sometimes prescribed for narcolepsy. Lack of sleep in itself can aggravate various emotional and mental disorders.

Physical Health Problems Caused by Snorting Adderall

The human nose is not designed to absorb drugs and is the first organ to suffer damage from snorting Adderall. Nasal septum damage usually heals if a person stops taking Adderall, but not always perfectly. While actively misusing Adderall, a person may suffer from:

  • Sinus infections, chronic sinusitis
  • Congestion and runny nose
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Impaired sense of smell
  • Crusts in the nostrils
  • Trouble swallowing

The damage Adderall may cause to the brain, internal organs, and systems is more worrying. Since Adderall increases body temperature, accelerates the heartbeat, and raises blood pressure, unsurprisingly it can weaken the heart and damage the cardiovascular system. When people snort Adderall over extended periods, they are in danger of arrhythmia, heart attack, or stroke, and put themselves at greater risk of coronary heart disease.

Poor circulation and feeling unusually cold, particularly in the extremities, can also be caused by Adderall, as can localized numbness.

Who is Most at Risk?

The mental health services administration conducts some of the most thorough studies on drug abuse patterns in the US, and these indicate that young people - from teenagers to young adults in their twenties - are the most active abusers of prescription stimulants like Adderall. Young people snort Adderall with various aims in a mind. Some use it as a study drug, to help them sleep less and study longer hours. Others take it as a party drug - again to sleep less, but this time in order to party longer. Since Adderall also suppresses appetite, it has gained popularity as a crash diet drug too.

Young people are often drawn to trying out new experiences in general, and snorting Adderall can sometimes lead to experimenting with other drugs. Also, since they are generally in robust health, young people may not take the adverse effects of the drug seriously enough, and consider them no more worrisome than a hangover. Needless to say, a happy-go-lucky attitude towards any kind of recreational substance use carries the risk of potential addiction.

Adderall Addiction Treatment

Substance abuse of any kind can all too easily turn into substance addiction. When drug use has become habitual, the strength of the habit makes it very hard to break without appropriate addiction treatment. Recognizing this, the average insurance provider will be happy to work with professional treatment centers, so they can give the care and attention to substance abuse sufferers in need.

Substance abuse and addiction can seriously impact all areas of a person's life, and without the right help and support, they can become trapped in a desperate cycle of addiction for many years. Substance addiction is particularly tragic when it threatens to deprive a young person of a bright future or steal away their youth. As a reputable, trusted, and advanced drug and alcohol treatment center, it is our mission at Cirque Lodge to prevent such outcomes. If you or a loved one are currently struggling with substance abuse, please reach out - our team of compassionate professionals, and all their long, combined experience, awaits you.

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