How To Tell If Your Loved One Is Abusing Adderall

Although Adderall has medical uses, there is still a risk for abuse and addiction, especially when used outside of prescribed doses.

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Adderall is a prescription amphetamine with a high potential for abuse. Due to Adderall’s addiction potential, someone can move rapidly from recreational use to misuse to Adderall addiction.

The symptoms of Adderall abuse may include excitability, talkativeness, a high level of confidence, agitation, aggression, etc.

Symptoms And Warning Signs Of Adderall Abuse

There are a variety of signs that a loved one is abusing Adderall, both physical and behavioral, as well as paraphernalia used for abusing Adderall.

Physical Signs

There are various physical signs that someone may be abusing Adderall.

The physical signs of Adderall abuse include:

  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • fast breathing
  • fast heart rate
  • teeth grinding
  • sweating
  • dilated pupils
  • loss of appetite
  • restlessness or alertness
  • excessive weight loss
  • insomnia
  • lack of coordination
  • flushed skin
  • tremors

If you notice these signs in a loved one, they may be abusing Adderall.

Behavioral Signs

There are various behavioral signs that someone may be abusing Adderall. Common behavioral signs are sociability and talkativeness.

The behavioral signs of Adderall abuse include:

  • a sense of grandiosity or invincibility
  • nervousness, panic, or anxiety
  • doctor shopping
  • being fearful of running out of Adderall
  • spending a lot of time using Adderall or trying to find Adderall
  • high excitability
  • social withdrawal
  • aggression
  • secretive behavior
  • impulsive behaviors
  • mania

If your loved one is exhibiting any of these behavioral symptoms, it may be time to express concern over their Adderall misuse.


Adderall is most commonly taken orally or snorted after crushing the pills. As a result, there is very little paraphernalia associated with Adderall abuse.

However, you may notice small baggies with pills or pill residue as well as razor blades, straws, or pens that have been taken apart for crushing up and snorting Adderall.

In some rare cases, people may inject Adderall using an intravenous needle or smoke it using a pipe. The paraphernalia associated with these forms of abuse can be much easier to spot.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a combination medication consisting of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Adderall is also used to treat narcolepsy in some cases.

What Are The Effects Of Adderall Abuse?

There are a variety of adverse side effects that occur with Adderall abuse. Some common adverse effects include headaches, hallucinations, and paranoia.

Other common adverse effects include:

  • restlessness
  • trouble sleeping
  • dizziness
  • changes in vision
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • worsening of existing mental illness

When Adderall is abused over a long period, these effects may be more severe.

How Does Adderall Affect The Brain?

Adderall binds to dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine neurotransmitters to increase the levels of these chemicals in the brain.

Those diagnosed with ADHD typically have lower levels of dopamine. The lack of dopamine causes those with ADHD to need to be constantly stimulated.

When Adderall increases the levels of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, a normal state of stimulation is achieved.

In a neurotypical brain with normal levels of dopamine, an individual may feel a state of euphoria as well as increased alertness and focus.

Due to this effect, Adderall is often abused by students looking to focus when studying for exams.

The Long-Term Effects Of Adderall Abuse

When Adderall is abused over a long period, chronic central nervous system stimulation can cause more severe adverse effects.

Effects from long-term Adderall abuse include:

  • seizures
  • psychosis
  • stroke
  • nerve cell damage
  • abnormal heartbeat

Although Adderall can be useful for someone to maintain focus, prolonged abuse can result in physical or mental deterioration.

Medical Uses For Adderall And Other Amphetamines

Adderall is used to treat narcolepsy as well as ADHD. Other amphetamines, such as Levoamphetamine, also treat ADHD and narcolepsy.

Amphetamines, such as Lisdexamfetamine, may also be used to treat obesity and binge eating disorders.

Helping A Loved One In Recovery From Adderall Abuse

If you are looking to help a loved one recover from Adderall abuse, there are a variety of treatment options available.

If you need help talking to a loved one about seeking help, contact a treatment specialist.


There are a variety of interventions used to treat Adderall addiction, including detoxification, counseling, and therapy.

There is currently no FDA-approved medication to treat Adderall addiction. Detoxification from Adderall often involves tapering off of the medication and addressing withdrawal symptoms.

Counseling may involve individual, family, or group sessions.

Behavioral Therapy

There are a variety of behavioral therapies used to treat Adderall addiction. Each therapy addresses various aspects of substance abuse to reach a state of recovery.

Contingency Management (CM)

Contingency management (CM) is a therapy that reinforces desired behaviors with privileges or prizes.

In substance abuse treatment, positive behaviors can include attendance of sessions, adherence to treatment, and testing negative for substance use.

In clinical settings, reinforcement for these positive behaviors often involves vouchers for goods or services, prizes, or cash.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions enable someone to understand their current issues to change their behaviors and thoughts.

CBT helps individuals to identify negative patterns of behavior or thinking and how they relate to their addiction.

CBT also teaches individuals coping behaviors for stressful situations to prevent relapse.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a treatment that motivates individuals to change their behaviors and reduce or eliminate substance abuse.

MI seeks to help individuals living with addiction change unhealthy behaviors that lead to substance abuse and address any ambivalence the individual has toward change.

Mental Health Treatment

There are a variety of co-occurring mental health disorders that may lead to someone abusing Adderall.

The most common co-occurring mental health conditions that may lead someone to abuse Adderall are oppositional defiance disorder (ODD), minor depression disorder (MDD), and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Mental health treatment for Adderall abuse and these co-occurring mental health disorders may include medication and psychotherapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used when treating co-occurring mental health conditions and substance misuse.

Learn About Adderall Addiction Treatment In Massachusetts

If you believe a loved one is living with Adderall abuse, we can help.

Contact our team at Bedrock Recovery Center in Massachusetts to learn how we can help your loved one with Adderall addiction treatment.

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Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: November 14, 2023

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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