Adderall Misuse: Short-Term, Long-Term, Side Effects, and Treatment
Adderall is a prescription medication that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.1 It is a stimulant, which means that it increases the activity of the central nervous system. Adderall is effective for treating ADHD and narcolepsy, but also has a high potential for misuse.
In 2021, over 3.7 million people reported prescription stimulant misuse within the past year,2 and of those, 320,000 reported misuse of amphetamines like Adderall.2 We’ll discuss the risks of misusing Adderall and how to find treatment if you or a loved one is struggling with Adderall misuse or addiction.
Adderall Side Effects
The most common Adderall side effects are:1
- Weight loss.
- Appetite loss.
- Weakness and low energy.
- Dry mouth.
- Rapid heart rate.
- Urinary tract infections.
Who Misuses Adderall?
Misuse of Adderall is common among adolescents and young adults who mistakenly believe that it can enhance their academic performance.3 They may also misuse Adderall for partying or to get high.4 Older adults may misuse prescription stimulants with the expectation of improving their memory or other cognitive capabilities.5 However, there is little evidence suggesting that Adderall significantly enhances academic performance or cognitive capabilities in people who do not have ADHD and may actually harm academic performance. One study found that people who started or continued using non-prescription stimulants (NPS) had lower GPAs than people who did not use NPS at all or who stopped using NPS.6
Misuse of prescription stimulants, including Adderall, can involve:7
- Taking Adderall without a prescription (e.g., taking someone else’s Adderall).
- Using Adderall for recreational reasons, such as to get high.
- Consuming Adderall longer, more frequently, or in larger amounts than prescribed.
- Using Adderall in a way other than prescribed, such as crushing pills to snort, smoke, or inject the powder.
Effects of Misusing Adderall
Adderall is a Schedule II substance, meaning it has a known potential for misuse, which can lead to severe physiological dependence and addiction.8 The misuse of Adderall, particularly at high doses, can pose a significant risk of other adverse consequences, including:1
- Increased heart rate.
- Increased respiratory rate.
- Elevated blood pressure.
- Dilated pupils.
- Decreased appetite.
- Loss of coordination.
- Flushed skin.
- Abdominal pain.
- Hostility and aggression.
- Suicidal or homicidal ideation.
Dependence is a physiological condition that occurs when the body becomes so accustomed to the presence of a drug, in this case Adderall, that it requires it to function normally. When Adderall use is abruptly slowed or stopped, withdrawal symptoms emerge.9 These symptoms can be distressing, and someone might resume use to avoid them. Withdrawal symptoms can include:1,9
- Depressed mood.
- Vivid and unpleasant dreams.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia.
- Increased appetite.
- Psychomotor retardation or agitation.
While dependence and addiction often go hand-in-hand, dependence does not always result in addiction. Addiction is a chronic, but treatable, disorder characterized by the continued compulsive use and misuse of substances despite harmful consequences.10
Misusing Adderall: Long-Term Effects
The misuse of prescription stimulants, particularly at relatively higher doses, may increase the severity of any associated adverse effects. Some of the more long-term effects of Adderall misuse result from chronic use may include potentially fatal severe cardiovascular symptoms (i.e., arrythmias, heart failure), renal failure, stroke, seizures, and psychosis.
Mixing Adderall with Other Substances
When someone uses Adderall with other drugs or alcohol, either intentionally or unintentionally, it is called “polysubstance use.”11 Polysubstance use is especially risky because the combination can result in unpredictable ways.11 Combining stimulants increases the risk of:11
- Heart attack.
- Liver damage.
- Brain injury.
Mixing depressants like alcohol and opioids with stimulants can be dangerous. One drug may mask the effects of the other resulting in excessive use and overdose.11
If you misuse Adderall, particularly at higher doses or non-oral administration (e.g., snorting, smoking, or injecting), you risk overdose.1,9 An overdose is a life-threatening situation requiring urgent medical help. Signs of stimulant overdose include:1,9
- Rapid respiration.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Dangerously high body temperature.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Hypertension or hypotension.
- Circulatory collapse.
- GI symptoms, including: cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Adderall Addiction Help
If you or someone you love is struggling with dependence on or addiction to Adderall, help is only a phone call away. At our inpatient rehab near Miami, we help people find meaningful recovery from substance use disorders.
Call our admissions navigators at to learn more about our different levels of addiction treatment, including:
- Medical detox – Detox is an invaluable first step in the recovery process for many people and helps prepare you for additional treatment. During detox our staff will keep you as physically stable and comfortable as possible while your body learns to adapt without Adderall and any other drugs of dependence.
- Inpatient drug and alcohol rehab – Inpatient rehab provides structured formalized care in a residential setting. This type of treatment allows for continued around-the-clock support, a variety of evidence-based treatment options that can be customized for your individual needs, and a supportive environment that enables you to focus on your recovery efforts.
- Outpatient addiction treatment – Outpatient treatment is a type of formalized care that allows patients to live at home while still attending treatment programs throughout the week. On the continuum of care, outpatient treatment is often a step-down from inpatient treatment, but can be a good fit for individuals whose addiction treatment needs don’t necessitate inpatient care.
Make that critical first step toward recovery and call us to learn how to start treatment. If you’re concerned about paying for rehab, rest assured there are more options than you may know. Using insurance to pay for rehab is only one of these. Call our friendly support staff at 754-253-5179 to find out more.
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