Adderall Addiction & Treatment

Prescription stimulants, including Adderall, can be beneficial to one’s health when they are taken as directed and under the discretion of a doctor or prescribing professional. Unfortunately, they also carry a high risk of misuse and dependence, making them potentially dangerous when taken outside of prescribed guidelines.1

In this article, we will provide more information about Adderall, its side effects, and risks to your health, including addiction, dependence and withdrawal. Finally, we will discuss how to seek help for yourself or a loved one who may be struggling with Adderall addiction.

What is Adderall?

Adderall, the brand name for the combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, is a commonly prescribed prescription stimulant in the United States.2 It is FDA-approved for use in the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents, and adults, as it is effective in increasing alertness, attention, and energy.1,2

Adderall, along with other prescription stimulants, works by increasing the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.2 These specific chemicals are involved in reinforcing rewarding behaviors and affecting basic functions including blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.2

Unfortunately, Adderall is commonly misused among college students, as it has long been viewed as a study drug that can help increase academic performance.3 One study showed that in 2021, 4.3% of college students ages 19 through 22 misused Adderall compared to 2.2% of individuals within the same age range but who were not enrolled in college.4 Adderall is also widely misused in the older community, as these individuals may look to utilize it to help improve their memory.2

Adderall Side Effects

Using Adderall therapeutically is associated with some side effects that can range in severity depending on several individual factors. Some of the side effects of taking Adderall can include the following:1

  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Problems sleeping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Mood swings
  • Dizziness

Adderall effects that develop from taking it therapeutically are not the same as the potential negative effects to your health that may be caused by Adderall misuse.

Is Adderall Addictive?

Yes, Adderall can become addictive if it is misused over a period of time.1 The misuse of a medication refers to:2

  • Taking a medication other than how it was prescribed (such as in larger doses).
  • Taking someone else’s prescription.
  • Taking the medication only for the effect it causes (e.g., to get high).
  • Consuming a medication in a way that is unintended, such as crushing and snorting it or dissolving the powder into water and injecting it.

The continued misuse of a substance can lead to the onset of addiction, which occurs when a person loses control over powerful urges to continue taking the drug despite experiencing negative life consequences as a result of their substance misuse.5 The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) utilizes several criteria to define Adderall addiction (known clinically as “stimulant use disorder”), including but not limited to, the following:6

  • Making attempts to cut back or quit using stimulants but being unsuccessful at doing so.
  • Powerful cravings or urges to use the stimulant drug.
  • Using the stimulant in situations that are dangerous to one’s physical health and safety.
  • Using stimulants continuously, despite knowing that it is causing or worsening a physical or mental health condition.

Health Effects and Risks of Adderall

When Adderall is misused, the risks to one’s health can vary from mild to deadly. Some of these potential health effects and risks include the following:

  • Cardiovascular problems. Misusing Adderall can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and increased heart rate.1 Additional serious cardiovascular risks can include arrhythmias and circulatory collapse.1 Sudden death can also occur in individuals with preexisting heart problems or defects.1
  • Mental health problems. The continued misuse of Adderall can trigger the onset of anxiety, hostility, and aggressive behavior.1 Psychosis can also develop, which can produce symptoms such as detachment from reality, paranoid ideas, and confused speech.7
  • Suicidal/homicidal ideation. Suicidal ideations can include contemplations, wishes, and preoccupations with death, all of which can occur as a result of Adderall misuse.1,8 Homicidal ideations may also develop, which are characterized by thoughts of ending one’s life or the life of another.1,9
  • Overdose. Overdosing on Adderall is possible when it is being misused and can present with symptoms including fast breathing, tremors, confusion, hallucinations, and panicked states.1 The way in which Adderall is consumed (e.g., snorting, injection, swallowing) can also affect one’s overdose risk.1

Adderall Withdrawal

Withdrawal from Adderall occurs when a person who has become dependent on it dramatically reduces or stops their use.1 Dependence, which refers to the adaptations that have developed in the body because of the misuse of a substance, triggers the onset of withdrawal symptoms when the substance is no longer being used.5 Some of the withdrawal symptoms that can develop when a person who is dependent on Adderall stops their use can include:1

  • Fatigue.
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams.
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Psychomotor retardation or agitation.

Depression and dysphoria are often considered the most concerning withdrawal symptoms that can develop as a result of stimulant withdrawal.10 Individuals who are addicted to amphetamine-based stimulants like Adderall are more likely to experience both conditions for longer periods of time and at a higher rate of intensity than those who are withdrawing from other types of stimulants.10 Since depression and dysphoria increases one’s risk for suicidality, it is important they be monitored as they continue to withdraw from Adderall.10

Adderall Addiction Help

If you or a loved one are struggling with Adderall misuse or Adderall addiction, River Oaks can help. Our facility offers multiple levels of treatment as a Tampa metro area inpatient rehab facility. For more information about rehab admissions, contact our team today. Admissions navigators are available to discuss rehab payment options, using insurance to pay for rehab, and answer any questions you may have.

Do not wait any longer. Call us right now at to get the help you deserve. You can also kick start the process of recovery by filling out our secure to have your insurance verified within minutes.

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