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All about: Amphetamines

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Generic name: Amphetamines
Brand names: Adderall

Why is Amphetamines prescribed?

Adderall is prescribed in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the condition in which a child exhibits a short attention span and becomes easily distracted, overly emotional, excessively active, and highly impulsive. It should be used as part of a broader treatment plan that includes psychological, educational, and social measures. An extended-release form of the drug, called Adderall XR, is available for once-daily treatment of ADHD.

The regular form of Adderall is also prescribed for narcolepsy (uncontrollable attacks of sleep).

Most important fact about Amphetamines

Adderall, like all amphetamines, has a high potential for abuse. If used in large doses over long periods of time, it can cause dependence and addiction. Be careful to take Adderall only as prescribed.

How should you take Amphetamines?

Never take more Adderall than your doctor has prescribed. Do not take it for a longer time or for any other purpose than prescribed.

Take the first dose upon awakening. If additional doses are prescribed, take them at intervals of 4 to 6 hours. Avoid late evening doses, which can interfere with sleep.

Adderall XR capsules can be taken whole, or the contents can be sprinkled on applesauce. The applesauce should be eaten immediately, without chewing. Be sure to use the entire contents of the capsule.

--If you miss a dose...

If you are taking 1 dose a day, and at least 6 hours remain before bedtime, take the dose as soon as you remember. If you don't remember until the next day, skip the dose and go back to your regular schedule. Do not take a double dose.

If you are taking more than 1 dose a day, and you remember within an hour or so of the scheduled time, take the missed dose immediately. Otherwise, skip the dose and go back to your regular schedule. Never take 2 doses at once.

--Storage instructions...

Store at room temperature in a tight, light-resistant container.

What side effects may occur?

Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you or your child to continue taking Adderall.

  • Side effects of Adderall may include:
    Dry mouth, high blood pressure, hives, impotence, overstimulation, rapid or pounding heartbeat, stomach and intestinal disturbances, weight loss
  • Side effects of Adderall XR may include:
    Abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, fever, infection (including viral), insomnia, loss of appetite, mood swings, nausea, nervousness, vomiting, weakness, weight loss

Why should Amphetamines not be prescribed?

Do not use Adderall if you have any of the following conditions:

Heart disease
Hardening of the arteries
High blood pressure
High pressure in the eye (glaucoma)
Overactive thyroid gland

Never take Adderall within 14 days of taking an antidepressant classified as an MAO inhibitor, including Nardil and Parnate. A potentially life-threatening spike in blood pressure could result.

Your doctor will not prescribe Adderall if you have ever had a reaction to similar stimulant drugs. The doctor will also avoid prescribing Adderall if you appear agitated or are prone to substance abuse.

Special warnings about Amphetamines

If you have even a mild case of high blood pressure, take Adderall with caution. Be careful, too, about driving or operating machinery until you know how Amphetamines affects you. It may impair judgment and coordination.

Adderall can make tics and twitches worse. If you or a family member has this problem (or the condition called Tourette's syndrome), make sure the doctor is aware of it. Amphetamines such as Adderall have also been known to aggravate symptoms in seriously disturbed (psychotic) individuals.

If the problem is attention-deficit disorder, the doctor will do a complete history and evaluation before prescribing Adderall, taking particular account of the severity of the symptoms and the age of your child. If the problem is a temporary reaction to a stressful situation, Adderall is probably not called for.

At present, there has been no experience with long-term Adderall therapy in children. However, other amphetamine-based medications have been known to stunt growth, so your doctor will need to watch the child carefully.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Amphetamines

If Adderall is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Adderall with the following:

Acetazolamide (Diamox)
Antihistamines such as Benadryl and Chlor-Trimeton
Drugs classified as MAO inhibitors, including the antidepressants Nardil and Parnate
Drugs that make the urine more acid, such as Uroquid-Acid No. 2
Glutamic acid (an amino acid related to MSG)
High blood pressure medications such as Calan, guanethidine, HydroDIURIL, Hytrin, Procardia, and reserpine
Lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid)
Major tranquilizers such as Haldol and Thorazine
Meperidine (Demerol)
Methenamine (Urised)
Norepinephrine (Levophed)
Propoxyphene (Darvon)
Seizure medications such as Dilantin, phenobarbital, and Zarontin
"Tricyclic" antidepressants such as Norpramin, Tofranil, and Vivactil
Vitamin C

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Heavy use of amphetamines during pregnancy can lead to premature birth or low birth weight. Avoid taking Adderall unless absolutely necessary. Amphetamines do find their way into breast milk, so you should not take Adderall while breastfeeding.

Recommended dosage

Whether the problem is attention-deficit disorder or narcolepsy, the doctor will keep the dosage as low as possible.

ADDERALL

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Children 3 to 5 years of age: The usual starting dose is 2.5 milligrams daily. Each week, the doctor will raise the daily dosage by 2.5 milligrams until the condition is under control.

Children 6 years of age and older: The usual starting dose is 5 milligrams once or twice a day. Each week, the daily dosage may be increased by 5 milligrams. Only in rare cases will a child need more than 40 milligrams per day.

The doctor may interrupt therapy occasionally to see if the drug is still needed.

Narcolepsy

Adults: The usual total daily dose ranges from 5 to 60 milligrams, taken as 2 or more smaller doses.

Children under 12 years of age: The usual starting dose is 5 milligrams daily. Each week, the doctor will raise the daily dose by 5 milligrams until the condition is under control.

Children 12 years of age and older:The usual starting dose is 10 milligrams daily, with weekly increases of 10 milligrams daily until the drug takes effect.

ADDERALL XR

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Children 6 years of age and older: The usual starting dose for children taking Adderall for the first time is 10 milligrams once daily in the morning. At weekly intervals, the doctor may increase the daily dosage by 5 or 10 milligrams, up to a maximum of 30 milligrams a day.

Children already taking regular Adderall are prescribed a single dose of Adderall XR equal to their previous daily total.

Adderall XR has not been tested on children under 6.

Overdosage

A large overdose of Adderall can be fatal. Warning signs of a massive overdose include convulsions and coma.

  • Symptoms of Adderall overdose may include:
    Abdominal cramps, assaultiveness, changes in blood pressure, confusion, diarrhea, hallucinations, heightened reflexes, high fever, irregular heartbeat, nausea, panic, rapid breathing, restlessness, tremor, vomiting

If you suspect an overdose, seek emergency treatment immediately.

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