Due to what appears to be an alarming loss of concentration in our society, a sharply rising number of people are being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The prescription drug Adderall, also known as “addies” or “smarties”, was designed specifically to help ADHD sufferers regain their focus and stay alert. It does this very well, with few side effects for people who really need the drug.

Due to its ability to improve concentration and increase energy levels, Adderall is also widely abused by high school and university students as a “study drug” for all-night cram sessions.

Adderall is also popular among athletes as a way to keep them concentrated and energetic when training & during games.

ADHD brainJust like students, programmers and software engineers often have to perform during bursts of concentration and attention. So, unfortunately, many coders are on the Adderall abuse wagon, too.

And who can blame them? Everyone wants to perform well and be productive – especially when it means more pay, more respect, and greater career opportunities. And Adderall delivers just that.

It sounds great: you write more code in less time. You maintain an extreme attention to detail. Staying up late for marathon test sessions is a walk in the park. You can focus clearly even in a room full of metal head geeks.

Why Not Use It?

Adderall doesn’t seem like the kind of drug people would get addicted to.

It doesn’t give you a kind of high that party drugs do. It just helps people focus and stay-up, and this is exactly what most programmers and software engineers need in their day to day job: to focus and to work long hours.

There seems to be nothing about this pill that could make you feel bad – or so most used to think.

But the truth is, Adderall is an amphetamine. As such, it carries all of the addiction potential and withdrawal issues of this class of drug.

In other words: yes, you can get addicted to Adderall. And it can be damn hard to get off of, once you’re hooked.

Side Effect of Long-Term Adderall Abuse

Programmers who abuse Adderall for a long time may notice that the pill actually makes their bodies twitch and become restless.

While Adderall helps you focus on the task at hand, a developer’s job is not entirely about coding. Coding is actually the easiest part of the job.

The most challenging part of developing software is conceptualizing solutions (usually with others) and developing new ideas for a project. These tasks require social interaction and creative thinking.

Adderall inhibits creative thoughts and relationship building. It’s difficult to think straight and to listen to another person when you are so restless, after all.

Eventually, once you get to the point of being jittery and tense, it will become difficult for you to code, as well.

When the signs of addiction to Adderall begin to show, everything becomes challenging. Though not as life-threatening as many other drugs that can literally ruin someone’s life, Adderall can nevertheless take a toll on your professional and personal life on a deeply emotional level.

Why Programmers Won’t Stop Taking Addies

At first, people enjoy the benefits a study pill gives them. Their work performance improves, and their manager recognizes outstanding performance.

But once they become aware that they are addicted and learn about the side effects of withdrawal from Adderall, Adderall addicts often deeply fear their work performance will suffer when they quit. And they’re probably right about that.

Some software engineers may actually believe that their core skill in coding comes from the drug. Consequently, this fear of failure can overcome their common sense, making them believe that without the drug, they are mediocre.

It’s this fear of failure that often locks people into abusing Adderall much longer than they should.

Adderall abuse is fairly easy to achieve. Who wouldn’t get “high” at the thought of doing things better than they used to? Who wouldn’t enjoy being praised by such hard work or being regularly recognized for flawless code?

These things can happen with Adderall, but what you get in return is far more suffering, when you quit.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

adderall withdrawal

When you quit taking Adderall after a long period of use, aside from making you tense, jittery and anxious, your self-esteem will probably bottom out.  According to AdderallAddictionSupport.com, the common side effects experienced by people withdrawing from smarties include:

  • A constant need to sleep
  • Feelings of hunger/overeating
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of nervousness
  • Lack of confidence
  • Loss of motivation
  • Loss of libido

These symptoms can be quite severe. And, they may last for several months even though the drug washes out of your system within a couple of weeks.  Many ex-addicts report a loss of income, relationships and suicidal tendencies.

This is why you should think twice about ever using Adderall or any other performance-enhancing drug to improve your career. You may get a lot more than you bargained for.

About John F.

I'm a career web developer/consultant by day and a tech blogger by night. I just moved to Colorado Springs, CO where I work for a high-tech government contractor.

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