What You Need to Know About Adderall Misuse (2023)

Long-term Adderall use may lead to dependence and addiction. With the right treatment approach, recovery is possible.

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Maybe you started taking Adderall because you heard it could help you study. Or perhaps it was the allure of staying up all night while decreasing your appetite.

Maybe you took it because you received a prescription to manage ADHD symptoms.

But now that some time has passed, you can’t seem to cut back, even though you want to.

You may have heard that Adderall is “highly addictive” or that “Adderall abuse” is on the rise, and this worries you. These terms are worth clarifying.

In fact, if you feel like you’re relying on Adderall when you don’t want to, you’re not alone.

But also know that with the right treatment plan and psychological support, recovery from Adderall addiction is possible.

Adderall is a prescription medication. It’s classified as a stimulant, similar to medications like dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine) or methylphenidate (Ritalin).

It’s made of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which stimulate the central nervous system and increase brain activity.

For prescriptions, Adderall is available in two forms:

  • Adderall: immediate-release tablet taken one to three times a day
  • Adderall XR: extended-release capsule taken once a day

What is Adderall for?

(Video) Good Health: The dangers of misusing ADHD drug Adderall

Around 15.4 million U.S. adults use prescription stimulants each year.

Adderall is best known as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s also sometimes used to treat narcolepsy.

Adderall affects several neurotransmitters in your brain, which in turn impact your energy levels and ability to focus. Specifically, the drug is designed to target:

  • dopamine, the reward chemical of your brain, which may lead to feelings of euphoria
  • epinephrine, the trigger for the sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, or freeze response), so you experience alertness and concentration
  • norepinephrine, a stress hormone that prolongs the fight, flight, or freeze response, so you can sustain your focus

Roughly 4.8 million adults in the United States misuse prescription stimulants each year.

Research shows that Adderall is often misused as a “study drug” in college, particularly around exam times.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Adderall as a Schedule II controlled substance because there’s a statistical high potential for misuse.

According to a 2017 report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the most common reasons for stimulant misuse include:

  • help staying awake (28%)
  • improved focus during studying (22%)
  • experimentation (5%)
  • weight loss (4%)
  • increase or decrease the effects of other drugs (2%)

However, it’s highly advisable to take Adderall strictly according to medical guidelines. When not taken as prescribed, it may cause chemical dependence, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Misuse refers to taking higher doses of a drug than what you were prescribed, or taking it more often than you are supposed to.

It can also include taking Adderall when you don’t have a prescription for it.

When you don’t need it, and you take it anyway, it may give you extra energy, but you’re likely to experience serious physical and mental side effects.

Addiction or substance use disorder?

(Video) Adderall Addiction Rehab: What You Need To Know

Addiction is an outdated term. It’s actually no longer considered a formal diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), the reference handbook mental health professionals use.

“Adderall abuse” is also a stigmatized term that doesn’t reflect reality.

Instead, if you’re living with a physical or psychological dependence on Adderall, your symptoms fall under the substance use disorder diagnosis.

Substance use disorder exists on a spectrum, from mild to severe. It can present differently for each person, but there are several common symptoms.

A healthcare professional may diagnose substance use disorder based on the following criteria:

  • feeling compelled to take a substance daily, or multiple times a day
  • spending much of your time acquiring, using, and recovering from use
  • experiencing cravings
  • increased tolerance (needing more to get the same effects)
  • experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to cut back or stop
  • neglecting home, work, school, hobbies, or social life to use the substance
  • wanting to quit, but feeling like you’re unable to
  • using even though it’s interfering with your relationships
  • using even though your mental and physical health are declining
  • using the substance in unsafe circumstances or conditions

Being overstimulated for a long period of time can cause your body and mind to run on overdrive and, eventually, give way to serious side effects.

This is one reason it’s important to use Adderall according to medical guidelines.

Some of these side effects may come from the medically supervised use of Adderall. It may be a good idea to discuss these with your healthcare professional ahead of time or when you experience them.

Physical effects

  • appetite loss
  • blurred vision
  • changes in libido
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • sleep changes
  • uncontrollable shaking
  • vomiting
  • weight loss
  • heart palpitations
  • muscular tics
  • seizures

Cognitive effects

  • memory loss
  • racing thoughts

Psychological effects

  • aggression
  • impulsivity
  • mania
  • paranoia
  • psychosis

Behavioral effects

  • crushing or snorting pills
  • fast rate of speech
  • financial troubles
  • overly excited
  • relationship challenges
  • stocking up on extra pills
  • talking in excess
  • taking someone else’s medication
  • trouble taking care of personal hygiene
  • visiting multiple doctors for prescriptions
  • withdrawing from loved ones

An overdose on a prescription stimulant is a medical emergency.

Warnings signs include:

  • blood circulation problems
  • coma
  • confusion
  • convulsions or tremors
  • fever
  • hallucinations
  • hyperactive reflexes
  • irregular heartbeat, which may lead to a heart attack
  • low or high blood pressure
  • muscle pains or weakness
  • nerve issues, which may lead to a seizure
  • panic
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness

If an overdose is happening to you or someone near you, or you suspect someone is having a heart attack, seek emergency medical attention.

(Video) 3 Important Effects You Need To Know Before Taking Adderall | MENTALLY HOOKED

You can call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. You can also call poison control at 800-222-1222.

When you stop taking a stimulant, it’s natural to have some withdrawal symptoms.

Here’s why: Your brain has been relying on Adderall to kick up your neurotransmitter activity, particularly dopamine, which means you’re not producing as much of that “feel-good” chemical mix on your own.

It may take some time for your brain chemistry to balance back to your usual.

Slowly tapering stimulants is strongly recommended. To help you manage the discomfort, a healthcare professional can help you with a tapering plan.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • increased hunger
  • intense cravings
  • irritability
  • panic attacks
  • sleep problems
  • self-harm and suicidal thoughts

Suicide prevention

If you’re considering self-harm or suicide, you’re not alone. Help is available right now:

How is Adderall misuse treated?

(Video) Dangers of Adderall Addiction Among Moms

Living with Adderall dependence or Adderall use disorder can be difficult. But it’s possible to heal and recover from it.

There are two factors to consider when starting recovery: safely detoxing from chemical dependence and processing a psychological dependence. For many people, it’s a combination of both.

Tapering schedule

Depending on your dosage, a doctor or other healthcare professional will set you up with a tapering schedule to slowly decrease your dosage in a way that doesn’t overwhelm your system.

A tapering schedule can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

Inpatient treatment

If you want to combine chemical detox and counseling in a safe, supported, and structured environment, inpatient treatment may be the best option for you.

You can locate facilities near you through the Treatment Locator from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Individual and group therapy

A trained mental health professional can help you get to the root of your substance use disorder, as well as give you coping skills to help prevent using Adderall again in the future.

You may find it helpful to use Psych Central’s search tools to find a therapist you resonate with.

A local support group, especially with others in a similar position, may help you feel supported on your journey. Some options include:

If you’re living with a substance use disorder, specifically Adderall use disorder, you may feel overwhelmed and hopeless. But you’re not alone. These feelings aren’t permanent.

There are many roads to recovery, and healing with multiple approaches can be powerful. Treatment may include addressing your chemical dependency with a tapering schedule while getting support in both individual and group counseling.

Try to remember to be compassionate with yourself. You’ve been doing the best you can with the tools you’ve been given. Once you know differently, you can do differently.

You’re already on your way to recovery.

(Video) Adderall Addiction - What Adderall is Really Like! | Beginnings Treatment


How much trouble can you get in for having Adderall? ›

Possession of Adderall

Being found with a single pill of Adderall without a prescription can result in charges for possession of a controlled substance. Depending on how much of the drug you are caught with, you could face between one to 10 years behind bars.

What to avoid when taking Adderall? ›

Foods that contain large amounts of citric acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) will prevent the absorption of both Adderall IR and XR into the body. Fruit juices high in vitamin C, soda drinks, and food with high levels of preservatives should be avoided an hour before and after taking Adderall.

What happens when your body gets used to Adderall? ›

Regular use or abuse of Adderall can make changes in the structures of the brain and change the way emotions are regulated. They can also be hard on the heart muscles, lungs, vascular system, and other internal organs. Even one-time use of Adderall may result in sudden cardiac death or a potential toxic overdose.

What should be monitored when taking Adderall? ›

While the mean changes alone would not be expected to have short-term consequences, all patients should be monitored for larger changes in heart rate and blood pressure.

What is the closest thing to Adderall over the counter? ›

Vyvamind is the closest thing available over-the-counter to Adderall. Although it's not as effective as Adderall, it does have the same effects, and is legal to take without a prescription. It also contains B vitamins, which are essential for the functioning of neurons. It also helps the body metabolize dopamine.

What is the highest safe amount of Adderall? ›

Adderall dose: The maximum daily dose is 40 mg/day for adults, and 30 mg/day for children. Adderall XR dose: The maximum daily dose is 40 mg/day for adults, and 30 mg/day for children.

Why can't you drink coffee with Adderall? ›

But, in general, it's not recommended to drink coffee while taking Adderall. While small amounts of coffee may not worsen Adderall's side effects, combining the two can raise the risk of side effects like high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, feeling jittery, and trouble sleeping.

What foods disrupt Adderall? ›

You may need to limit caffeine intake (food examples: coffee, teas, colas, and chocolate) while taking this medicine. Taking a high amount of caffeine can increase the risk of irritability, nausea, nervousness, palpitations, problems with sleep (insomnia), rapid heartbeat, or other side effects.

Does Adderall help with memory? ›

If you have a stressful situation, this chemical will increase blood sugar levels and blood pressure to prepare you for the situation. Higher levels of norepinephrine can also cause you to feel euphoric, help increase attention and focus, and improve your memory.

Does Adderall make you more social? ›

The results suggest that amphetamine may encourage sociability by increasing sensitivity to subtle emotional expressions. These findings suggest novel social mechanisms that may contribute to the rewarding effects of amphetamine.

Can Adderall cause brain fog? ›

ADHD medications—Ritalin, Strattera, Adderall—can cause brain fog symptoms. They can also interfere with sleep, making ADHD symptoms worse.

Why does Adderall make me calm? ›

Adderall is a stimulant that boosts your levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These are neurotransmitters in your brain that calm and relax you so you can focus better. They also affect sleep in different ways. That may be the reason the drug causes drowsiness in some but not others.

Is it safe to take Adderall everyday? ›

Long-term use of Adderall could lead to addiction, heart problems, slowed growth in children, or mental health issues.

What is Adderall most common indication? ›

Adderall® is indicated for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Narcolepsy. A diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; DSM-IV®) implies the presence of hyperactive-impulsive or inattentive symptoms that caused impairment and were present before age 7 years.

Can you drink at night and take Adderall in the morning? ›

No. Mixing alcohol and Adderall or other stimulants can be dangerous. As we'll detail later, this interaction can raise the risk of serious side effects. These may include heart-related problems, like heart attacks.

Why is Adderall not giving me energy anymore? ›

The body can develop Adderall tolerance. If you are using it for medical reasons, you may feel as though it has stopped working or become less effective after a period of time. This is perfectly normal. Usually, your doctor will evaluate the efficacy of your current dose and prescribe a tiny increase in dose if needed.

What is the natural Adderall on Tiktok? ›

However, TikTokers aren't really correct (shocker) in calling L-Tyrosine natural Adderall. According to Shape, L-Tyrosine isn't an amphetamine at all. It's actually a non-essential amino acid that one's body is able to create all on its own. It isn't extracted from any food or drink we consume.

What smart pill is like Adderall? ›

Adderall and modafinil are central nervous system stimulant medications (psychostimulants). Both of these drugs have similar properties and similar applications. Both drugs are listed as controlled substances by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

What is the average amount of Adderall per day? ›

Usual dose 5 mg to 60 mg per day in divided doses, depending on the individual patient response.

How long does Adderall take to kick in on an empty stomach? ›

“Amphetamines like Adderall begin to work within 30 minutes to an hour. Non-stimulants like Strattera can take 4 to 8 weeks to reach maximum effectiveness at the proper dose.” Dr.

How much Adderall should I take to focus? ›

For ADHD, the immediate-release dosage for adults is between 5 mg to 40 mg a day. The dosage is divided throughout the day. In regards to ADHD, doses of more than 40 mg a day are rarely more effective than lower amounts.

What are the side effects of Adderall on a woman's skin? ›

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, serious skin rashes, including Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a rare and painful skin disorder), skin peeling and blistering, and hair loss have also been reported with Adderall.

Does Adderall give you energy? ›

Adderall and other amphetamines can generate physiological effects such as: Increased physical energy. Improved mental aptitude. Hyperexcitability.

How much water should I drink on Adderall? ›

by Drugs.com

Adderall and other ADHD medications can cause dehydration, so you need to drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of fluid per day. Take frequent sips of water rather than drinking a whole glass of water at once.

What vitamin does Adderall deplete? ›

Stimulant drugs like Adderall and Vyvanse may help to relieve feelings of sadness or overwhelm, but they can also deplete stores of magnesium in the body. Magnesium is a key element for maintaining your mental health, so this can be problematic.

Does Adderall affect metabolism or food? ›

A common side effect of Adderall is a lack of hunger— as Adderall increases your energy, it boosts your metabolism and decreases your appetite.

What not to eat with ADHD? ›

Some of the common foods that can cause ADHD reactions include milk, chocolate, soy, wheat, eggs, beans, corn, tomatoes, grapes, and oranges. If you suspect a food sensitivity may be contributing to your child's ADHD symptoms, talk to your ADHD dietitian or doctor about trying an elimination diet.

Does Adderall help with overthinking? ›

No, and it often makes symptoms of anxiety worse. Adderall is not an anti-anxiety medication but rather a stimulant that boosts a person's attention span, motivation and energy.

Does Adderall cause emotional detachment? ›

Emotional detachment, or the act of being disconnected or disengaged from the feelings of others, is a symptom of ADHD. However, it can also be caused by Adderall, a medication used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.

Does Adderall help with motivation? ›

Adderall is an amphetamine, so it raises the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that controls the brain's reward and pleasure centers. Basically, it creates the feeling of motivation that makes us want to take action to achieve our goals.

Can Adderall cause bad behavior? ›

Another side effect of Adderall may include increased irritability and aggression. Repeated use of any prescription stimulant can cause anger, even over a short period. Additionally, if someone is experiencing withdrawal from Adderall, it can cause difficult feelings and emotions.

What mental effects can Adderall have? ›

Stimulant medications such as Adderall can increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain, and over time lead to the phenomenon of “sensitization.” Amphetamines can mimic psychosis, especially when taken recreationally above the approved therapeutic doses.

Should Adderall make you talkative? ›

Telltale signs of Adderall abuse may include: Being overly talkative. Loss of appetite.

What does ADHD brain feel like? ›

People with ADHD will have at least two or three of the following challenges: difficulty staying on task, paying attention, daydreaming or tuning out, organizational issues, and hyper-focus, which causes us to lose track of time. ADHD-ers are often highly sensitive and empathic.

How do people with ADHD think? ›

The mind of a person with ADHD is full of the minutiae of life (“Where are my keys?” “Where did I park the car?”), so there is little room left for new thoughts and memories. Something has to be discarded or forgotten to make room for new information. Often the information individuals with ADHD need is in their memory…

Can Adderall cause low testosterone? ›

Some research suggests that amphetamine-dextroamphetamine (the same combination used in Adderall) may decrease the production of testosterone. 4 It is thought that this effect is due to the impact of these drugs on Leydig cells, which are located in the male testes and responsible for testosterone production.

What is the zombie effect ADHD? ›

This is sometimes called the “Concerta crash” or the “Adderall crash,” after common brand names of stimulant medication. Some of the symptoms of this crash include fatigue and trouble focusing. Some people may describe this feeling as “zombie-like.”

When will the Adderall shortage end? ›

US Pharma Windlas, a new manufacturer of generic Adderall, expects to have supplies at the end of June, according to the FDA. But in the meantime, if you're still having trouble getting your medication, here are five expert-recommended strategies to help you get the treatment you need.

Do stimulants have the opposite effect on people with ADHD? ›

While taking stimulants would cause most of us to become hyperactive, they have the opposite effect on those with ADHD. While stimulants can cause children with this disorder to have difficulty sleeping and can cause them to feel uncomfortable, it actually quiets their hyperactivity and improves their attention.

Is it OK to not take ADHD meds on weekends? ›

If you stop on the weekends, you basically start over on Monday,” he says. A person's body adjusts to the medication over the course of the first few months and side effects can lessen or disappear after that time.

What to switch to when Adderall stops working? ›

If that doesn't work, you may have to try a different drug. Though stimulants are the most common choice for ADHD, your doctor may recommend you try non-stimulants such as atomoxetine, bupropion, or tricyclic antidepressants. Some doctors recommend taking a break from your medicine when it doesn't seem to be working.

What class of drug is Adderall? ›

Dextroamphetamine/amphetamine belongs to a class of drugs known as central nervous system stimulants. The Drug Enforcement Administration/Food and Drug Administration classifies these medications as schedule II drugs with high potential for abuse in the United States.

What not to mix with Adderall? ›

Combining Adderall with medications such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants and St. John's wort may trigger it.

What are the pros of using Adderall? ›

Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine belongs to a class of drugs known as stimulants. It can help increase your ability to pay attention, stay focused on an activity, and control behavior problems. It may also help you to organize your tasks and improve listening skills.

Can I have caffeine with Adderall? ›

But, in general, it's not recommended to drink coffee while taking Adderall. While small amounts of coffee may not worsen Adderall's side effects, combining the two can raise the risk of side effects like high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, feeling jittery, and trouble sleeping.

Is caffeine better than Adderall for ADHD? ›

In the three core symptoms of ADHD (attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity), methylphenidate was more effective than caffeine10in reducing only hyperactivity. Amphetamines were more effective than caffeine in reducing both hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Is it OK to take Adderall at noon? ›

You may take this medication with or without food, but it is important to choose one way and take this medication the same way with every dose. Taking this medication after noon may cause trouble sleeping (insomnia). Swallow the capsules whole.

Can you legally drive while taking Adderall? ›

You can get a DUID if you take Adderall before driving in California. This is because Adderall may cause you to become tired and fatigued while driving.

Can I get in trouble for buying Adderall? ›

Federal law prohibits buying controlled substances such as narcotic pain relievers (e.g., OxyContin®, Vicodin®), sedatives (e.g., Valium®, Xanax®, Ambien®), stimulants (e.g., phentermine, phendimetrazine, Adderall®, Ritalin®) and anabolic steroids (e.g., Winstrol®, Equipoise®) without a valid prescription from your ...

Is it illegal to drive on Adderall? ›

Yes. You can be charged and convicted for DUI if you take a drug, including Adderall, and it impairs your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. This is true even if you have a valid or legal prescription for the drug.

Is it a crime to give someone Adderall? ›

Yes, it is illegal only if you don't have a valid prescription since most ADHD medications such as Adderall and Adderall XR are considered dangerous due to a high risk of becoming dependent or abusing them.

Can you get a DUI for ADHD medication? ›

Just like alcohol, Adderall may impair your judgment to drive safely. In fact, anything that impairs your ability to drive will be considered a DUI, regardless of the substance. If an officer suspects you of driving while under influence, he/she might pull you over for questioning and tests.

Can you get a CDL if you take Adderall? ›

Use of any Schedule I drugs, amphetamines (such as Adderall), narcotics (drugs derived from poppy or coca), and any other habit-forming drug (i.e. drugs with a risk of addiction) disqualifies a truck driver.

Can a pharmacist refuse to fill Adderall? ›

Yes. In general, a pharmacist can refuse to fill a prescription for the following reasons: The prescription isn't considered standard care or therapy. The prescription is likely to cause harm because its risks clearly outweigh the benefits.

Can you buy Adderall at CVS? ›

It's used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and can be bought online on pharmacies like BlinkHealth, GoodRX, CVS etc.

Can cops tell if you're on Adderall? ›

Being Arrested for Driving on Adderall

Police officers are trained to identify drivers who are impaired by drugs. You may be issued a blood test to determine how much of the medication was in your system at the time of your arrest.

Is Adderall considered DUI? ›

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classed Adderall as a Schedule II narcotic. You can receive a DUI for driving on Adderall. A lot of people do not realize that driving under any form of influence can result in arrest and conviction.

Can you drive on ADHD pills? ›

Can you drive on ADHD medication? Research shows that you can drive on ADHD medication, and medication can improve the safety of your experience. Around 38% of men and 42% of women with ADHD experience a lower risk of motor vehicle crashes when taking medication.

Can you get Adderall in jail? ›

Adderall is an amphetamine-based drug, and BOP policy prohibits its distribution to inmates.

How do you ask someone for Adderall? ›

How to Get an Adderall Prescription?
  1. Before booking an appointment, honestly describe symptoms that bother you. Pay attention to when symptoms occur and how long they last. ...
  2. Tell about all the known diseases you suffer from. ...
  3. Tell about all medications that you regularly take.
  4. Be ready to do several tests for diagnosis.

Why is Adderall illegal in Japan? ›

After being widely used by the Japanese military and their allies through WWII, all stimulants were banned by the government in 1951 after it was revealed that it was devastatingly addictive. Since then, a zero tolerance drug policy has since been instilled by the Health, Labor, and Welfare Ministry.


1. Ten facts about Adderall
(Demystifying Medicine McMaster)
2. ADDERALL: Doctors Guide to Side Effects
(Erik Richardson D.O.)
3. How Adderall Abuse Can Harm the Body
(The Doctors)
4. 6 Disturbing Adderall Facts You Should Know | Drug Facts You Never Knew | Detox to Rehab
(Detox To Rehab)
5. Adderall addiction
(Demystifying Medicine McMaster)
6. Why Do People Abuse Adderall
(Eric B Zink)


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