Adderall Side Effects, Addiction, and Treatment Options

Adderall (dextroamphetamine/amphetamine) is a prescription stimulant with a known potential for misuse. In 2021, an estimated 3.2 million Americans aged 12 and older misused Adderall or other prescription amphetamines.1

This article will discuss Adderall misuse, including negative side effects, the risk of addiction, and options for treatment.

What Is Adderall Used For?

Adderall is used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is an amphetamine-based, prescription CNS stimulant medication.2

When used appropriately in people with ADHD, Adderall may enhance alertness, energy, and attention levels.3

However, Adderall is often misused in ways other than how it’s prescribed, especially among young adults aged 18–25, who abuse prescription stimulants at higher rates than other classes of prescription drugs.4

Research indicates that as many as 35% of college students have misused prescription stimulants like Adderall. Motivations for misuse include boosting academic performance, losing weight, or, simply, getting high.3

By some reports, older adults may misuse Adderall and other prescription stimulants to improve memory.5

Adderall is commonly diverted, which means that supplies of the drug intended for prescription use are instead routed for illicit or otherwise non-medical use. For example, someone with a legitimate stimulant prescription might give away, trade, or sell their pills to a person without a prescription who has the intent to misuse them.4,6

Diversion is a major contributor to the misuse of Adderall and other prescription stimulants, with more than half of youths and young adults reporting that they obtain these drugs from a friend or relative.4

Is Adderall Addictive?

Yes, Adderall is a dopaminergic, reinforcing medication regulated under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule II drug, indicating its notable potential for misuse and dependence.7

In 2021, an estimated 1.5 million people aged 12 and older had a prescription stimulant disorder, the clinical term for addiction to prescription stimulants like Adderall.8

A stimulant use disorder involving Adderall may entail continued use of the drug despite harmful consequences, such as health problems and trouble fulfilling obligations at work, school, or home.5

Adderall Side Effects

Adderall misuse can increase the likelihood of experiencing several adverse side effects of varying severity.2

In adults, the most common Adderall side effects include:2

  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Urinary tract infection.

Other Risks of Adderall Misuse

Adderall misuse can also pose serious risks to a person’s health and well-being. Some of these significant health risks include:2

  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.
  • Worsening of pre-existing bipolar.
  • Symptoms of psychosis and mania.
  • Seizures.
  • Tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
  • Potentially fatal overdose toxicity.

Chronic Adderall misuse, especially at high doses, can increase the likelihood of these effects as well as their severity.3

An overdose is a medical emergency. If you think you or someone else is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately.

Signs of a potential Adderall overdose include:2

  • Agitation.
  • Seizures/convulsions.
  • Hallucinations (auditory and visual).
  • Markedly elevated body temperature.
  • Abnormal heart rate and rhythm.
  • Rapid or irregular breathing.

Adderall and other drugs obtained illicitly can be fake and may include potentially dangerous contaminants or adulterants such as fentanyl. The DEA has reported huge increases in counterfeit pills containing 2 or more milligrams of fentanyl, which is a considered potentially lethal amount.9

Adderall Withdrawal

People who misuse Adderall regularly for extended periods of time may experience withdrawal if they suddenly stop or reduce their use.2

Adderall withdrawal occurs as a result of dependence. Dependence is a physiological adaptation of the body to a substance, wherein the body becomes so used to the drug being present in its system that when the individual cuts back on their use or quits, withdrawal symptoms emerge. In other words, a person feels like they need this drug to function normally.11

Dependence and addiction are not the same thing. But when significant levels of physiological dependence develop in someone misusing a stimulant drug like Adderall, that person may be more likely to begin compulsively using the drug to avoid unwanted withdrawal symptoms, which can ultimately lead to addiction.11

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Adderall withdrawal symptoms may include:2

  • Dysphoric mood.
  • Slowdown of mental and physical activity.
  • Restlessness or inability to sit still.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sleeping too much (hypersomnia) or too little (insomnia).
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams.
  • Increased appetite.

Due to the risk of increased depressive symptoms in association with acute stimulant withdrawal, some people may benefit from a treatment setting that facilitates close monitoring and regular assessment for a risk of self-harm or injury, as suicide is a significant cause of death among people who misuse stimulant medications.3

 Adderall Addiction Help

Behavioral therapy is typically the foundation of treatment for stimulant use disorders.5

Contingency management, a form of behavioral therapy, is the one evidence-based approach that has shown significant effectiveness in treating stimulant addiction. Contingency management consists of giving clients vouchers or cash rewards for remaining drug-free and exhibiting other related positive behaviors.3,5

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is also frequently used in substance use disorder treatment. This modality facilitates a deeper understanding of how negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can drive addiction.12

Currently, there are no approved medications to treat stimulant addiction or withdrawal. Other supplemental treatment approaches that may be helpful include physical exercise, meditation, and family therapy.3

At Recovery First, we offer different types of addiction treatment and personalized care designed to meet the individual needs of each patient.

To learn more about the programs at our inpatient rehab near Miami, call us at .  Our admissions navigators are available around the clock to answer any questions you may have about using insurance to pay for rehab or other ways to pay for rehab.

You can also find out more about your specific insurance coverage by filling out this quick and confidential .

If you or someone you love has lost control of their drug or alcohol use, we are here to help you find the path to recovery. Contact us to start treatment today.


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