Adderall Addiction: Symptoms And Dangers

Adderall is a prescription medication for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that is commonly misused and abused for recreational purposes. Adderall becomes dangerous with abuse of it and can cause physical, mental, and behavioral side effects.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on November 4, 2022

Adderall is a popular brand name for the drug dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, which is used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

As a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, Adderall can increase a person’s focus and concentration, as well as help them stay awake or feel more energized.

While Adderall is highly effective when taken as directed, it is often misused and abused for recreational purposes or to increase a person’s performance in school, sports, or at work.

The longer and more frequently a person abuses Adderall, the more likely they are to build up a dependency and tolerance, and eventually an Adderall drug addiction.

Does Adderall Get You High?

When Adderall is taken as directed by a physician, it should not get a person high. When Adderall is taken at high doses, however, many people report feeling a euphoric high.

While some people abuse Adderall to experience this euphoria, it is more commonly abused for other reasons.

Reasons people may abuse Adderall include:

  • to lose weight
  • to stay awake
  • to increase concentration and focus
  • to increase and sustain energy

Adderall abuse is particularly common among college students, athletes, adults with high-stress professions, and people with eating disorders.

Adderall has even earned the nickname of “study drug” because of its prevalence among young adults on college campuses and students in high school.

Learn more about an Adderall high.

How Adderall Is Abused

Adderall comes in a pill form that is ingested orally when taken as prescribed. Adderall abuse occurs if a person takes it without prescription or takes more than their prescription.

The most common method of abusing Adderall is by crushing and snorting it, though it can also be abused by smokingplugging, or through IV injection.

Adderall is commonly abused by these methods because they result in a faster and stronger high than would result by taking tablets or capsules orally.

Find out more about different Adderall routes of administration.

Is Adderall Addictive?

When Adderall is taken as directed and prescribed, it possesses a relatively low risk of dependency and addiction.

Adderall can become addictive, however, when taken at high doses, when taken more frequently than directed, or when a person continues to take it after their prescription has ended.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse resulting in physical dependence.

Learn more about the addictive potential of Adderall.

Signs Of An Adderall Addiction

If someone has developed an addiction to Adderall, they may start to exhibit certain behavioral signs.

Signs of an Adderall addiction can include:

  • taking Adderall without a prescription or after a prescription has ended
  • taking Adderall at higher doses or more frequently than prescribed
  • taking Adderall along with other drugs or alcohol
  • snorting, injecting, smoking, or plugging Adderall
  • engaging in risky behaviors in order to obtain Adderall
  • having intense cravings for Adderall in between doses

Read more about the signs of Adderall addiction.

Types Of Adderall

Adderall can typically be found in three forms — brand name Adderall, generic non-brand name dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, and Adderall XR.

  • Adderall is a popular brand name for the combination medication of dextroamphetamine-amphetamine. The effects of this type of Adderall typically last four to six hours.
  • Generic Adderall is a non-brand name version of dextroamphetamine-amphetamine. Generic versions are considered equal to brand name medications in quality, strength, safety, and intended use.
  • Adderall XR is the extended release version of Adderall. This type of Adderall is designed to provide a slow and sustained release of the drug that can last for up to 12 hours. Adderall XR is also available in generic non-brand-name versions.

Learn more about the different types of Adderall.

What Adderall Pills Look Like

Adderall pills come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, depending on the size of the dosage and whether the pill is generic or brand name.

Adderall and generic Adderall are sold in tablet form that is either circular or oval in shape depending on the dosage size.

These tablets are found in the colors white, blue, peach, pink, and various shades of orange ranging from light to dark.

Adderall XR pills tend to be sold in capsule form as opposed to tablet form. One half of these capsules are transparent, and what looks like tiny balls or beads can be seen within.

Read more about what Adderall pills look like.

Side Effects Of Adderall Addiction

When a person is addicted to Adderall, it can affect them physically, mentally, and behaviorally. It can also affect them socially and cause harm to their personal relationships.

Physical Side Effects Of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is a stimulant, which means it stimulates the central nervous system, causing excitement among different body functions.

Some of the effects of Adderall use and misuse on the body include:

  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • physical dependence
  • muscle pain or weakness
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • fast breathing
  • insomnia
  • nausea
  • skin picking
  • sexual dysfunction

Mental Side Effects Of Adderall Addiction

While Adderall can help treat certain mental health conditions with proper use, Adderall drug abuse can result in a number of psychological effects.

Mental health effects of Adderall abuse may include:

  • psychosis
  • hallucinations
  • paranoia
  • memory loss
  • disorientation and confusion
  • anxiety or depression

Behavioral Side Effects Of Adderall Abuse

When a person is abusing prescription drugs like Adderall, they may start to show it with their behavior.

Behavioral side effects that may come with Adderall abuse:

  • addictive behaviors
  • neglecting hygiene and appearance
  • irritability and intense anger
  • excessive talkativeness and excitability
  • withdrawal from friends and family
  • impulsivity or engaging in risky behaviors

Find out about other side effects of Adderall abuse.

Symptoms Of Adderall Tolerance

As a person uses Adderall over time, it may start to lose its effectiveness and more of the drug is required in order to achieve the desired effects.

People who have built up a tolerance to Adderall will also experience stronger withdrawal symptoms and stronger cravings for the drug between doses.

A tolerance to Adderall can also lead to a dependency, as a person needs to take more and more of the drug in order to avoid its uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and feel normal.

Learn about Adderall tolerance.

Adderall Drug Interactions

When Adderall is taken simultaneously with other substances, even other prescription drugs and medications, the effects can be potentially dangerous.

Mixing Adderall with other stimulants, such as cocaine or caffeine, can heighten the stimulant effects and make an overdose more likely.

Adderall can be particularly dangerous as well when mixed with depressants, such as opioids or alcohol, even though they have opposing effects on the brain and body.

Even taking Adderall along with over-the-counter decongestants poses certain risks, as these medications can also increase a person’s blood pressure and heart rate.

Read more about potential risks of Adderall drug interactions.

How To Manage The Adderall Comedown

A person who is abusing Adderall regularly and heavily can experience an unpleasant Adderall comedown, or “crash”, within hours of their last dose.

In addition to physical symptoms, a person’s mental health can also be drastically affected. They may experience anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts during this time.

The best thing that a person can do during an Adderall comedown is to take care of themselves and rest, stay hydrated, and eat nutritious foods.

If withdrawal is too intense or unmanageable, it may be a good idea to seek professional addiction treatment. This will also make a relapse less likely.

Learn ways to manage an Adderall crash.

Does Adderall Abuse Lead To Withdrawal Symptoms?

If someone stops taking Adderall suddenly after extended or heavy use, they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms that are severe.

Adderall withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • cravings
  • fatigue
  • extreme irritability or aggression
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • headaches
  • muscle aches and pains
  • increased appetite
  • problems focusing or concentrating
  • vivid dreams or nightmares

Find out more about Adderall withdrawal.

Can Adderall Abuse Lead To Overdose?

It is possible for a person to overdose on Adderall, especially if they are using it in combination with other substances.

As a stimulant, Adderall causes an elevated heart rate, an increase in blood pressure, and faster breathing. In combination, these effects can wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system.

An Adderall overdose puts a person at risk of:

  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • seizures
  • coma
  • sudden death

If someone is experiencing an Adderall overdose, they should seek medical attention immediately, as this condition can be fatal.

Read more about the dangers of Adderall overdose.

What’s The Detection Window For Adderall Abuse?

Detection times for Adderall use will vary depending on the type of detection method used, but Adderall can be found in a person’s urine up to 72 hours after their last dose was taken.

Adderall can also be detected in a person’s system through their blood, saliva, or hair, although urine tests are most frequently used.

How long Adderall stays in a person’s system can also vary depending on a person’s body composition, age, metabolism, organ function, and dosage size.

Find out more about how long Adderall stays in your system.

Abusing Adderall While Pregnant

Taking Adderall while pregnant, even as prescribed, is not considered safe during pregnancy. A woman who is pregnant and prescribed Adderall should discuss safe alternatives with her doctor.

Abusing Adderall while pregnant can cause serious harm to the unborn baby, and may result in premature birth, low birth weight, and withdrawal symptoms in the infant after birth.

Read more about the effects of Adderall on pregnancy.

Effects Of Adderall Use On Breastfeeding

It is not recommended that women breastfeed while using Adderall, as the drug dextroamphetamine-amphetamine can be passed through breast milk.

More research is needed on the possible effects that using Adderall while breastfeeding can have on the baby, but it has been shown to interfere with the mother’s milk production.

Learn more about Adderall use while breastfeeding.

Treatment Options For Adderall Addiction

Withdrawing from Adderall can be uncomfortable for a person both physically and mentally. For many people, professional treatment can be beneficial.

Not only can professional treatment help a person to manage their withdrawal, but it can also teach them skills to help them cope and maintain long-term sobriety.

Adderall addiction treatment options may include:

  • outpatient treatment
  • medical or observational detox
  • individual, group, and family counseling
  • behavioral therapy
  • medication management
  • residential inpatient treatment
  • partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
  • peer support groups
  • 12-step meetings
  • dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders
  • day treatment

Read more about Adderall addiction treatment programs.

Find A Substance Abuse Treatment Center

If you or one of your loved ones is currently living with an Adderall addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to our treatment specialists at Bedrock Recovery Center.

It is never too early or too late to begin your recovery journey, and we are here to help no matter where you are in the process.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  2. National Library of Medicine: DailyMed
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus
  4. United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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