Adderall Addiction: Treatment, Signs, Symptoms, and Risks


Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Review by:

Dr. Po Chang Hsu MD, MS

Updated On: Jan 13, 2024
Last Medical Reviewer On: April 29, 2024
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    Adderall is a prescription medication that’s used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. However, it’s an amphetamine that can be misused, leading to addiction.

    What Is Adderall?

    Adderall is a prescription amphetamine that’s a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and is used to treat ADHD.[1] It’s also a Schedule II stimulant, meaning it has a serious potential for abuse. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 6.4% of those aged 12 and older – 17.2 million Americans – used prescription stimulants like Adderall in the past year in 2015.[2]

    Adderall is usually obtained in its pill or capsule forms as a prescription, but people who abuse it may also smoke, snort, or inject Adderall. It goes by the street name uppers.

    Side Effects of Adderall

    Adderall can have side effects like:

    • Loss of appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Dry mouth
    • Stomach pain
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Dizziness
    • Headache
    • Diarrhea
    • Fever
    • Nervousness
    • Trouble sleeping[3]

    How Is Adderall Taken?

    Adderall is prescribed in pill or capsule form to treat ADHD. Much of the misused Adderall is the prescription form. Adderall can also be ground down to be smoked or snorted or dissolved in liquid to inject. These methods produce a faster and more intense high than taking the pill or capsule form.[4]

    Adderall Quick Reference

    Drug Category Commercial & Street Names DEA Schedule Administration
    Stimulant Uppers Schedule II Oral, snorted, injected, smoked

    Learn About Other Substance Use Disorders

    Statistics on Adderall Use, Misuse, and Addiction

    Adderall is often misused by college students. In the past year, misuse rates of Adderall reached 14.6% among college men and 8.8% among college women.[5] In non-college people, the rate was 10.1% among women and 5.3% among men.

    Effects of Adderall Abuse

    Adderall abuse can have symptoms like:

    • Sociability and talkativeness
    • A sense of grandiosity or invincibility
    • Dry mouth
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Anxiety and panic
    • Manipulating Adderall’s form (crushing or snorting)
    • Becoming agitated without Adderall

    Can You Overdose on Adderall?

    Adderall, like other stimulants, can cause serious overdoses. Some people can have signs of toxicity with low doses. Amphetamine overdose often occurs with recreational use and can be fatal.

    Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Overdose

    The symptoms of Adderall overdose include:

    • Tremors
    • Restlessness’
    • Overactive reflexes
    • Rapid breathing
    • Confusion
    • Agitation
    • Hallucinations
    • Panic
    • Fatigue
    • Depression
    • High or low blood pressure
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Convulsions
    • Sudden death[6]

    What to do if you suspect someone is overdosing on Adderall:

    Rapid intervention is crucial to reverse an Adderall overdose. If you suspect someone is overdosing, call 911. Wait with them until help arrives. You can turn them on their side to prevent choking. If they stop breathing, you can administer CPR if you’re trained.

    Dangers of Long-Term Adderall Use

    Adderall is safe and effective when used as prescribed, but it does have a high potential for misuse. Prolonged use or taking higher doses can cause many adverse effects, including damage to nerves, seizures, psychosis, stroke, or abnormal heart rhythms.[7]

    Mixing Adderall with Other Drugs

    Mixing two or more stimulants, such as Adderall and ecstasy, methamphetamines, or cocaine, can increase the risk of overdose and other adverse effects, including heart attack, brain injury, liver damage, and stroke.[8]

    Adderall Addiction and Abuse

    According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), addiction to Adderall is clinically referred to as a stimulant use disorder. Clinicians use the criteria outlined in the DSM-5, which include:

    • Taking the stimulant for longer periods or in larger amounts than intended
    • A persistent desire to cut down on stimulant use, though unsuccessful
    • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from a stimulant
    • Craving the stimulant
    • Failing obligations at work, home, or school
    • Continuing stimulant use despite persistent problems
    • Giving up social, occupational, or recreational activities for stimulant use
    • Using stimulants in dangerous situations
    • Continuing stimulant use despite health or life problems[9]

    Is Adderall Addictive?

    Yes, Adderall is highly addictive. It’s often misused when prescribed, but it’s also used recreationally. Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance because of its strong addictive potential. The risk of addiction increases with prolonged use or taking larger amounts than prescribed.

    Signs of Addiction to Adderall

    Adderall addiction can look different for everyone, but it generally has the following signs and symptoms:

    • Social isolation
    • Shirking responsibilities at work, home, or school
    • Mood swings
    • Financial issues
    • Increased energy and alertness
    • Sleep disturbances
    • Paranoia and hallucinations

    Adderall Addiction Treatment

    Adderall addiction can be difficult to overcome, but a comprehensive treatment plan can help. The cost, length, and specific therapies can vary according to the severity of your addiction and other factors, which are determined during your initial assessment.

    Adderall Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

    Adderall withdrawal can be intense and extremely uncomfortable. Medical detox provides a safe environment with constant medical supervision to ensure that you’re secure and as comfortable as possible while the drug clears your system.

    After detox from Adderall, you may enter into an inpatient or outpatient program, depending on your needs. Inpatient care offers 24/7 supervision, that’s ideal for people who need intense treatment. Outpatient treatment comes in different degrees of intensity but offers more flexibility for people at varying stages of their recovery.

    Therapies Used in Adderall Addiction Treatment

    Several therapies may be used for Adderall addiction treatment:

    Adderall Addiction and Mental Health

    Prolonged misuse of Adderall can lead to serious mental health issues, including psychosis and paranoia.[10]

    Co-Occurring Disorders

    When you have a substance use disorder, such as stimulant use disorder, and a mental health condition, these are co-occurring disorders that need to be treated simultaneously. Stimulant use disorder, such as Adderall, often co-occurs with anxiety, depression, and ADHD.[11]

    How to Find Adderall Addiction Treatment in Connecticut

    If you or a loved one needs treatment for Adderall addiction, your insurance provider may be able to give you approved treatment providers. You can also find help through SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Services Locator tool.

    Do your due diligence, explore your options, read reviews, and ask for recommendations. If you’re ready to seek treatment, contact our compassionate care team at Paramount Wellness Retreat.

    Adderall Detox and Withdrawal Management

    Adderall withdrawal isn’t usually life-threatening, but it can be extremely unpleasant – to the point of prompting relapse. It can also last longer than withdrawal from other stimulants. Detox and withdrawal management ensures that you’re monitored and as comfortable as possible while the drug clears your system.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What Happens If You Take Adderall Without ADHD? Chevron Down
    Is It Harmful to Take Adderall Continuously? Chevron Down
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