Exploring the Side Effects of Adderall

Adderall has been successfully used to treat ADHD in millions of people, however this particular medication can also be habit-forming. This article will discuss the potential side effects associated with the appropriate use and the misuse of this prescription medication.

Potential Side Effects of Adderall

generic adderall tumbling out of a prescription bottle

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that in 2018, around 5 million adults in the United States were presently misusing a prescription stimulant. Misuse of a prescription stimulant, such as Adderall, led to over 40,000 visits to an emergency department (ED) in 2011, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN).

The prescription information published by Shire, the makers of Adderall, warn individuals of the potential for the following side effects that can develop when taking this medication as prescribed:

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Teeth clenching
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Nervousness
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tremors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Decreased sex drive and possible impotence
  • Blurred vision
  • Stuttering
  • Restlessness
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Skin problems

When Adderall is misused, however, there are several additional side effects that can develop. These side effects can vary based on how the Adderall is misused (e.g., snorted, injected, swallowed, etc.). For example, injecting the drug can create symptoms such as:

  • Infections along the injection site.
  • Increase the risk for developing an infectious disease like HIV/AIDS or hepatitis.
  • Scarring or “track marks”.
  • Blocked blood vessels.

Snorting Adderall can cause:

  • Respiratory issues.
  • Chronic nosebleeds.
  • Damage to the sinus cavities.

Smoking and swallowing Adderall can lead to:

  • Lung infections.
  • Burns to the hands and face.
  • Gastrointestinal issues.
  • Stomach ulcers.

Overdose and Other Dangers of Adderall Misuse

Adderall may be misused by taking the drug without a legitimate prescription, taking more of it at a time than prescribed, or by altering the drug (e.g., crushing it) to take it in a way other than intended (e.g., snorting, smoking, or injecting it). When someone is overdosing on Adderall, they can experience a wide range of symptoms that can be dangerous and potentially fatal. These symptoms include:

  • Heightened blood pressure.
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Seizures.
  • Heart attack.
  • Stroke.
  • Confusion.
  • Tremors.
  • Restlessness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Panic.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Vomiting.

Adderall misuse can cause mood swings and erratic behaviors, and even aggression and hostility. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that psychosis including paranoia, hallucinations, and mania as well as the potential for bipolar symptoms, depression, and suicidal thoughts may occur with Adderall misuse, particularly for those with previous history with related mental health issues. Adderall is also commonly misused with alcohol or other drugs, which increases all of the possible risks of all substances involved, including the potential for an overdose.

Hazards of Prolonged Adderall Abuse

therapist talking with patientChronic Adderall misuse can cause cardiac complications and, per Shire, even potentially lead to cardiomyopathy, which is a disease affecting the heart muscle. NIDA also reports that malnutrition and stroke are potential side effects of long-term prescription stimulant drug misuse. Individuals who misuse a drug like Adderall are also more likely to have lower grade point averages in college than their peers who do not misuse the drug, even though Adderall is often thought of as the “smart drug.”

Using Adderall can also lead to issues such as:

  • Changes in eyesight.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Heightened heart rate.
  • Slowed growth rate.
  • Difficulty feeling pleasure.
  • Changes in personality.

When a drug such as Adderall is used or misused for a long period of time, an individual may become dependent on it. This means that the changes in the brain that are created when Adderall is present become more ingrained. Some of the circuitry of the brain and its natural production of neurotransmitters, like dopamine, are affected. When Adderall is not present, or is removed, the brain attempts to regain its balance, causing difficult withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue.
  • Insomnia.
  • Depression.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Drug cravings.

Addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease of the brain that affected over 10% of the American population in 2015, National Institutes of Health reports. Addiction disrupts many aspects of a person’s life, with negative emotional, financial, physical, behavioral, social, and interpersonal ramifications. If an Adderall addiction takes hold, these effects can be felt in all spheres of life.

Addiction Treatment in South Florida

If you are struggling with an addiction to Adderall, Recovery First can help. Call us right now at to speak with one of our experienced, compassionate admissions navigators. They can help assist you in beginning the process of getting the treatment that you deserve.

Learn more about payment options, insurance, and the levels of care that we offer by reaching out to us today. You can even get started by filling out our to verify your insurance.

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