Adderall is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that increases alertness and energy by increasing neurotransmitter activity in the brain and boosting dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels.
Adderall can be effective in treating ADHD, since it positively affects CNS receptors. However, one of the side effects of Adderall use or abuse is headaches.
Fortunately, these headaches are largely treatable and preventable.
Why Adderall Causes Headaches
There are a few different theories as to why Adderall, a brand name for amphetamine medication often misused by college students, may cause headaches.
One theory is that the medication can cause changes in blood pressure and blood flow, which can lead to headaches.
Another theory is that the stimulant effects of Adderall can lead to headaches in people who are sensitive to them.
Lactic acid buildup is also a side effect of using amphetamine-based prescriptions, which is a common trigger for migraines and headaches.
Some of the most common side effects of taking Adderall are fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, and headaches. The culprit for these side effects is likely the amphetamine in the drug.
This ADHD medication also raises your blood pressure and increases your heart rate, which can affect your sensitivity to headaches and make you more prone to experiencing them.
5 Tips For Preventing Adderall Headaches
There are a number of ways you can prevent Adderall-induced headaches.
1. Take The Medication As Prescribed
Taking too much Adderall, taking it more frequently than prescribed, or abusing it in another way can increase the risk of headaches.
2. Take Adderall With Food
Taking Adderall on an empty stomach can also lead to headaches.
While you can experience a loss of appetite with Adderall, taking dextroamphetamine or amphetamine medications without food can intensify their immediate effects.
3. Stay Hydrated When Taking Adderall
Making sure that you drink enough water is critical to keep some of the common side effects of Adderall use at bay.
Drinking lots of water can lower your high blood pressure and decrease the pain by flushing out your body.
Also, taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen can limit the chances of developing a migraine headache, or mitigate the headache’s severity if you develop one.
4. Limit Caffeine And Alcohol Intake
Alcohol is a depressant, and caffeine is a stimulant.
Mixing a depressant with a stimulant, such as Adderall and alcohol, can confuse the CNS and upset the careful balance of hormones therein.
Combining stimulants can cause a number of possible side effects, such as agitation, excess excitability, and fidgeting, and can overstimulate the brain — leading to potential headaches.
Healthcare providers prescribing adolescents and adult ADHD patients Adderall in extended release forms (Adderall XR) recommend avoiding additional stimulants, such as coffee.
5. Eat Healthy Foods
Ensuring that you have a healthy, balanced diet can not only prevent Adderall-induced headaches, but can also mitigate many of the other side effects produced by the medication.
Can Adderall Headaches Be Permanent?
This central nervous system stimulant causes headaches, but they are not permanent.
Detoxification, hydration, and painkillers are often all that are necessary to erase a headache caused by Adderall.
There are other side effects of Adderall use that are caused by abuse of the drug, some of which can be long-lasting, such as mental health disorders and cardiovascular problems.
Some side effects of Adderall abuse are:
- weight loss
- sleep problems
- dry mouth
- decreased appetite
- mood swings
Can Adderall Withdrawal Cause Headaches?
Adderall is an effective medication for mitigating and treating ADHD symptoms and other hyperactive tics, but even when taken regularly you can experience withdrawal.
Headaches are also a symptom of Adderall withdrawal. If you regularly take or misuse Adderall and skip a dose, you may experience headaches.
It is important to understand that withdrawal symptoms are not the same as side effects, which happen while taking the drug, but that symptoms of withdrawal appear after its use is stopped.
Symptoms of Adderall withdrawal include:
- stomach aches or cramping
Addiction Treatment Services For Adderall Abuse
Fortunately, there are many programs and services available to help people who abuse Adderall get off the drug and stay clean.
Some of these treatment options for Adderall drug abuse include:
- inpatient and outpatient programs
- behavioral therapy
- partial hospitalization programs (PHP)
- individual, group, and family counseling
- telehealth services
- vocational programs
- educational courses on drug and alcohol abuse
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Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team
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This page does not provide medical advice.