Looking for signs your Adderall prescription is too high?
Adulting With ADHD Staff
Medications are scientifically proven and research-backed to be effective against ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Prescribed drugs are superior to standalone behavioral therapies that you may resort to for managing your ADHD. However, the problem with these prescribed drugs is that you could overdose on them – at times, without your knowledge. Adderall is one such ADHD drug that people tend to overdose on.
So, what are the signs your Adderall prescription is too high? Though not the same across the board, the following are some potential side effects with Adderall prescribed for ADHD:
- Unusual blinking, twitching, or odd facial movement
- Agitation or irritability
- Increased anxiety or depression
- Troubled sleeping
- Reduced appetite
Some side effects could reduce or even completely disappear over a period as your body gets used to the drug. However, some effects – mild or significant – could stay for longer. If you’d like to learn more about why these negative effects show up in the first place and things you could do about them, keep reading.
What Is Adderall?
Belonging to the class of stimulant drugs, Adderall is essentially a combination medicine that helps treat ADHD and narcolepsy. It works by altering the composition of certain natural constituents in your brain.
Due to how it interacts with your nervous system, it could help with increased attentiveness, ability to remain focused on a task, and controlled behavior issues. Your listening and task organization skills may also get better when on Adderall.
Is Adderall a Controlled Drug?
Yes, Adderall comes under the controlled substance class. This means it could lead to physical or psychological dependence and can potentially be misused and abused. It’s also why special regulations have been drafted by the state to determine how Adderall and similar substances get prescribed and dispensed. Not to mention, Adderall has been FDA-approved since 1996.
Are There Generic Versions of Adderall?
Adderall XR oral capsules and Adderall oral tablets are both available in their generic forms. Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine is the generic name of both variants.
Besides the price difference (generic Adderall usually being the inexpensive option), the generic and brand-name variant could be available in varying strengths and forms.
If you are considering a generic drug for the cost-savings, make sure you are getting the strength your doctor prescribed.
Recommended Adderall Dosage Amount
The Adderall dosage amount typically falls in the 5 to 60mg per day range. This number could be split into two or more doses.
- For adolescents, the starting dose is 10mg per day.
- For adults, the minimum dosage is 20mg.
Based on how you respond to these doses, your doctor could prescribe an increase or decrease in your dosage amounts.
Harmful dosage levels are usually measured in relation to the person’s weight. Generally, administering anywhere between 20 and 25mg per kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of weight is considered lethal. For example, for a man weighing 75 kg (165 pounds), lethal dose levels start at 1,875mg per day. However, a dose as low as 1.5mg per kilogram of weight could be lethal for some people.
As mentioned before, your Adderall dosage would usually be spread throughout the day – usually once in the morning and once at noon. There should be a four-hour gap (at least) between two consecutive doses.
If you happen to miss your morning dose, it’s recommended you take it as soon as you learn about it. However, if you are only a few hours away from your next dose, you may skip it entirely. Just make sure you don’t miss your doses the next time, and you don’t make it a habit.
As much as possible, refrain from taking makeup doses during evenings or late in the afternoon since you may then have issues falling asleep during bedtime. Most importantly, do not combine two doses since that could then cause some major problems.
Getting the Adderall Dosage “Right”
There is no “right” or standard Adderall dosage for ADHD. Even the dosage numbers mentioned above are ballpark figures. Also, your age, height and weight, gender, the severity of impairment, etc. have no correlation with the ideal Adderall dosage.
Your Metabolism Plays a Role
Your metabolism indicates how effectively your gastrointestinal (GI) tract assimilates and absorbs medications.
The main issue is that your metabolism constantly changes. You, therefore, would have to make changes to your dosage accordingly. Increased weight (courtesy of fat) means a lower metabolism. Individual neurochemistry, on the other hand, determines how efficiently the drug’s molecules can traverse your blood-brain barrier or influence your neural circuit.
Dosages Vary Among Individuals
A specific dose of Adderall could be optimal for someone you know. The same dose, however, could be low or too high for your physiological self. To tailor the dose to your requirements, employ trial and error.
Unfortunately, there is yet no test that could accurately predict what dose of Adderall would give you all the benefits while not causing any side effects.
The key to ascertaining the correct dose lies in learning the signs that denote the dosage is too high or low.
- Feeling different after a dosage could mean the amount was too low or high.
- If your hyperactive nature is reduced to a crawl, it could possibly mean the dose was high.
- If you feel changes in your personality or feel abnormally active or lazy, a higher dose could have been the reason.
If you’d like to know more about fine-tuning your doses based on how your body responds to different strengths, consult your doctor and learn how Adderall alleviates impairments. If you have ADHD and have never been on Adderall or any other medication before, it’s worth your while to get educated on what to watch out for when taking the drug, things that won’t change and/or will change when on the drug, and what the benefits of taking Adderall are.
Begin Small to Be on the Safer Side
If you fear overdosing on Adderall, start with the lowest possible amount. You may fine-tune from there based on the improvements you see or do not see in your target symptoms. Every time you increase the dose, you must see a significant, clear improvement in your indicators. There should ideally be no side effects. You may, however, experience a minor loss of appetite.
Make sure you raise your dose as per your doctor’s recommendations. Your doctor would recommend a dosage increase based on your symptoms and how you’ve generally been reacting to the drug.
When the decision to increase the dose has been made, your doctor will look at multiple factors, such as:
- Your age
- The severity of the condition you’re trying to remedy with Adderall
- The form or type of Adderall you administer
- New medical conditions you’ve been diagnosed with during the period between your last and current consultation
Once a dosage increase is deemed appropriate, your doctor would push it up by the least amount possible, just to be on the safer side. For instance, if you were doing 10mg per day before and now you are good to handle anywhere between 15 and 20mg a day, your doctor will increase your dose to 15mg.
Signs Your Adderall Intake Requires Fine-Tuning
Your Adderall overdose symptoms can be categorized as mild and severe. Mild symptoms could include:
- Stomach pain
- Dry mouth
These side effects are not serious, and they do not necessarily indicate that you’ve overdosed on Adderall. However, you should still let your doctor know about these minor side effects so that your dosages could be altered accordingly.
An inappropriate dose is usually the reason why you start experiencing some major negative effects. Here are a few severe signs indicating your Adderall intake levels need to be adjusted quickly. You:
- Exhibit improved focus during mornings, but the increased attention span kind of wanes early into afternoons. This indicates your morning dosage is wearing off a bit too quickly.
- Lose weight even after being on a prescription for a few weeks. Weight loss and decreased appetite are possible Adderall side effects. But if you continue losing weight, you need to consult your doctor.
- Seem to be irritable when the drug is active in your system. This could mean the dose is on the higher side, or the medicine is just not right for you.
- Respond pretty well to the drug during the daytime, but experience sleeping issues at night. This sign denotes the medicine is staying in your system longer than it needs to.
Signs Your Adderall Prescription Is Doing Its Job
Unlike other disorders you treat with medications, it can be tough to gauge whether your Adderall administration is helping you with your condition. The symptoms usually do not get better to the point of being obvious. However, there are some telltale signs that denote your medication is effective, which include your ability to:
- complete “boring” or small jobs
- easily recall information from conversations
- remember details from work emails or meetings
- recollect things you learned in class the other day
- finish small tasks
- complete homework assignments
- go to bed when it’s time
- avoid distractions like television or social media while working
A few other signs are balanced emotions (like reduced mood swings), lowered impulsive behaviors, a lesser number of anxiety attacks, etc. Your symptoms won’t disappear completely. Some may, in fact, stay put. Basically, your mental and physical symptoms get manageable over a period.
Kindly note that these positive changes would be subtle and may take some time to show up. Also, it’s important you get into Adderall with clear expectations. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish through the drug, then you may be hard-pressed to learn whether the medicine is actually working or not. And when you’re not clear about the drug’s efficacy, overdosing could be a possibility.
How Does Adderall React with Other Drugs/Treatments?
At times, Adderall overdose issues could arise when you take the medication in conjunction with other prescribed or non-prescribed drugs.
For example, MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) could increase Adderall effects and heighten your overdose risks. MAOIs commonly used include:
Note that MAO inhibitors shouldn’t be taken at least two weeks prior to taking Adderall.
Drugs that inhibit the CYP2D6 enzyme also shouldn’t be taken at the same time as Adderall.
Common CYP2D6 inhibitors are:
- Cinacalcet (Sensipar)
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Ritonavir (Norvir)
Your serotonin levels could shoot up to the point of toxicity if you administer Adderall with serotonin-boosting drugs. The condition is called serotonin syndrome. Examples of serotonin-boosting drugs include:
- St. John’s wort
- Some antidepressants (which include SSRIs such as paroxetine or fluoxetine, SNRIs such as venlafaxine or duloxetine), etc.
The serotonin syndrome risks usually go up when the dosage levels of these drugs are high.
Compatible ADHD Treatments
There aren’t enough studies delineating how Adderall reacts with nutritional supplements and over-the-counter drugs. If you’re considering administering health supplements on the side while taking Adderall, consult your doctor to learn more about your drug interaction risks (if any).
Talk to Your Doctor
If you’ve been prescribed Adderall for your ADHD, you need to clear all your doubts with your doctor before you get on the Adderall train. The following are things you could discuss and/or put forth to your doctor:
- Any other non-prescription and prescription drugs, herbal supplements, and vitamins you’re administering.
- Allergies you have (if any) to medications.
- Your medical history – let the doctor know if you or your family members have or have had glaucoma, seizures, hyperthyroidism, hypertension, kidney disease, liver problems, etc.
- Heart conditions running in the family (irregular heartbeat, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathy, etc.).
- History of conditions relating to your mental health – including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and psychotic disorder.
- Existing or previous suicidal attempts and/or thoughts.
- Family or personal history with substance use disorder (addiction to or overuse of alcohol/drugs).
- Family or personal history with uncontrolled muscle movements (Tourette’s syndrome, for instance).
- Pregnancy and/or breastfeeding or plans to get pregnant in the future.
If your increased Adderall dosage has reached the point of addiction, there are several treatment programs that could help you get back on track.
Can You Use Adderall Long-Term?
When administered at doctor-prescribed dosage levels, Adderall can be safely ingested for the long-term. Side effects such as dry mouth, loss of appetite, insomnia, etc. are pretty common reactions and not anything major to worry about.
With continuous Adderall usage, these side effects will lose momentum and completely disappear. For some, they may continue. Under such circumstances, doctor intervention is advised.
Long-term Adderall usage could cause some alterations in the brain as well, which include a reduction in the quantity of dopamine, a chemical messenger. This is, however, more likely when you take Adderall over a period in doses above recommended levels.
Such misuse or abuse could lead to psychological and physical dependence on the drug. Inappropriate usage could result in other major side effects, which include:
- severe insomnia
- skin disorders
- chest pain (if you have had heart issues in the past)
- unwanted weight loss and anorexia
Not everyone needs to take Adderall long-term. Based on your condition and how well you’ve responded to the drug, your dose could be tapered off, or you may be completely taken off the drug.
Your doctor will likely monitor your health and your condition during this no-drug phase to check if your symptoms resurface. If they do, you will have to continue taking the drug.
Regardless, do not take the call by yourself – even if you know for sure that your symptoms are getting better. If you do decide on your dose without the doctor’s knowledge, you could be subject to withdrawal symptoms and may end up in a larger mess.
In fact, even your doctor won’t take you off Adderall cold turkey. They would recommend lowering the dose over a period until you reach a point where you could completely stop taking the drug.
ADHD medications may not be for everybody diagnosed with ADHD, but they certainly are for the majority. Adderall for ADHD would help you:
- remain social
- drive your car safely
- not stay up late at night
- be more cordial with your friends and family, etc.
You continue to benefit from Adderall when you administer it in the right amounts. When you overdose, take it too frequently, administer it without prescription, mix it with other drugs or alcohol, you could experience some major side effects.
With prolonged usage, your body may even build up a tolerance to Adderall or adapt itself to the drug’s presence. The higher your tolerance, the likelier you are to overdose in hopes of achieving past or better results.
Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you always keep your doctor in the loop when taking Adderall.