Injecting a stimulant like Adderall is potentially very dangerous, and it can result in significant damaging effects.
The use of unsanitary utensils or needle sharing contributes to the risks associated with intravenous drug abuse.
Adderall is the brand name for a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
This medication is approved for the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and can also be used for treatment of the sleep disorder narcolepsy.
Is Adderall a Controlled Substance?
The medications in Adderall are controlled substances, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Adderall is classified in Schedule II, which is the strictest level of governmental control for a medication that can be obtained with a prescription from a physician.
While these medications are used medically with good results, they also have a significant potential to be abused and for users to develop physical dependence on them.
Is Adderall Abused?
Per figures released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
- In 2016, approximately 13.9 million people reported using an amphetamine product like Adderall at least once.
- In 2017, approximately 14.2 million people reported using an amphetamine product at least once.
- In 2016, approximately 5.4 million individuals reported misusing an amphetamine product at least once.
- In 2017, approximately 5.6 million individuals reported misusing an amphetamine product at least once.
Although misuse of a drug is not the same thing as abuse, they are related.
Misuse refers to using the drug outside of its intended purpose, whereas abuse refers to a pattern of chronic misuse. Thus, anyone who abuses the drug began by misusing it.
Reports or estimates of individuals who misuse the substance can be used as a gauge or indicator of its potential abuse.
Are Those Prescribed These Drugs Likely to Abuse Them?
The majority of research studies have consistently determined that people who are administered prescription medications like Adderall to treat ADHD are not at an increased risk to abuse them.
People who use the medication for a bona fide medical condition while under the supervision of a physician are not likely to abuse it.
Which Groups Abuse Adderall Products?
The primary abusers of stimulant products designed to treat ADHD are younger individuals who are enrolled in challenging college curriculums or younger individuals employed in high-pressure jobs. The majority of these individuals buy the drug illicitly or acquire it through some other illegal means.
Is Adderall a Cognitive Enhancer?
The effect of using stimulants like Adderall on people diagnosed with ADHD is to increase their ability to pay attention and reduce their impulsivity and hyperactivity. In people without the disorder, the effect of small-to-moderate doses of stimulants also increases a person’s ability to pay attention and concentrate, whereas larger doses can make people distractible, irritable, and hyperactive.
There is no evidence that the drug can increase intelligence, but stimulant drugs have long been recognized as substances that can increase attention and alertness when taken in small amounts. For example, many individuals use caffeinated beverages for this effect.
Consequences of Adderall Abuse
Abusing a substance like Adderall can result in serious problems. These problems are exacerbated in individuals who abuse the drug for longer periods.
Chronic abuse of Adderall can lead to a lasting increase in blood pressure and irregular heartbeat, which can contribute to serious cardiovascular problems. Chronic Adderall abuse will alter several different pathways in the brain, which can affect the ability to control emotions, manage impulses, experience pleasure without drugs, and lead to cognitive problems, such as issues with attention, memory, and judgment.
Abusers of Adderall are subject to significant damage to several different organ systems besides the heart and brain, such as the kidneys and liver. Tolerance to the effects of Adderall is one of the first consequences of abusing the drug.
Increased tolerance exacerbates a person’s abuse of the drug as well as the different potential side effects associated with abuse.
Adderall abusers are often polysubstance abusers who take Adderall with other substances like alcohol, other central nervous system depressants (opioids or benzodiazepines), and even other stimulants. This can exacerbate the damage associated with abusing Adderall. Chronic abuse of Adderall can lead to the development of a stimulant use disorder (an addiction).
Modes of Abuse
People who abuse Adderall may just take the pills orally, grind them up and snort the powder, mix the powder with liquid and inject it, or even smoke it.
While injecting Adderall is not a common mode of abuse, it does occur. There can be significant dangers associated with injecting Adderall.
Injection Leads To Improved Absorption
Injecting the drug leads to more direct absorption of the drug in the brain.
For medical reasons, this can be a useful mode of administration for some medications; however, individuals who chronically abuse the drug will exacerbate the potential for side effects when they inject it.
Increased risk of infection:
The capsules and tablets that individuals grind up often contain filler materials and binders. These are not designed to be injected. Injecting them can increase the risk of damage to the veins as well as contracting an infection.
Many individuals who inject drugs do not thoroughly sterilize their equipment. This lack of sanitation can lead to an increased risk to contract quite a few infections, including abscesses of the skin, gangrene, tetanus, and wound botulism.
Increased cardiovascular risk:
Chronic injecting of Adderall can result in endocarditis, an inflammation of the interior lining of the heart.
In addition, chronic injection of Adderall can lead to cardiac damage that can include swollen and inflamed heart valves, which can lead to serious health consequences.
Problems with veins and arteries:
Chronically injecting Adderall can lead to blockages in the veins or arteries (thrombosis), collapsed veins or arteries, and scarring of the veins or arteries that can result in serious health risks.
Chronically injecting Adderall can also lead to long-term problems with blood circulation.
An increased risk of blood-borne diseases:
People who inject Adderall and do not pay attention to the equipment with which they inject themselves are at increased risk to contract blood-borne diseases that can include the development of HIV or hepatitis as a consequence of needle sharing.
Greater likelihood to engage in risky behavior:
Intravenous drug abusers are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors that can damage their health. This greater likelihood can be the result of an attitude of just not caring or due to the effects of the drugs of abuse.
Increased overdose risk:
Because injecting Adderall results in the more efficient delivery of the drug into the system, there is an increased risk of overdose. Overdose symptoms can include extremely high blood pressure, rapid breathing, anxiety, aggressive behavior, psychosis, chest pain, heart attack, and seizures.
The more rapid development of a substance use disorder:
Because of the efficiency of delivery, those who inject drugs are more likely to develop substance use disorders (addictions) at a more rapid pace than those who abuse drugs orally.
Is It Safe?
Unless a person is given Adderall intravenously by a licensed health care professional for some medical treatment, injecting Adderall is not a safe way to use the drug. Individuals using Adderall for recreational purposes should never inject it.