Risks of Smoking or Snorting Adderall (and Other Rx Stimulants)

Prescription stimulants refers to a large group of medications recommended for the treatment of several mental and physical health conditions like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Stimulant medications boost a person’s energy and ability to focus. This makes them effective medications for the conditions they treat but also desirable drugs of abuse for some individuals.

People often misuse stimulants to get high or to try to improve their academic or physical performance. This may result in mental or physical health issues and may lead to addiction.1 Adderall is one of the most commonly used prescription stimulants.3

Short-Term Effects of Adderall and Other Stimulant Medications

Prescription stimulants such as Adderall enhance the effects of two very important neurotransmitters in the brain, dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is associated with feelings of pleasure and is a key component of the brain’s reward system, while norepinephrine plays a critical role in mobilizing the brain and body to action (e.g., the fight-or-flight response).5

Misuse of stimulant medications can bring about an initial euphoric rush, as well as short-term effects include:1,5

  • Feeling more awake and staying awake longer.
  • Increased alertness.
  • Energy boost.
  • Increased attention.
  • Decreased hunger.
  • Rise in heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Rise in blood sugar.
  • Decreased blood flow
  • Opening up of the breathing passages.
  • Increased breathing.

Health Effects of Abusing Rx Stimulants

Unwanted and potentially dangerous consequences come along taking higher doses of Adderall and other prescription stimulant medications. Some of the short-term health effects of misusing Adderall include:1,8

  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Dangerously high body temperature.
  • Decreased quality and quantity of sleep.
  • Increased risk of seizures and heart failure.

As misuse continues and the person consumes the drugs at high doses more often, the risk of dangerous health effects increase. Common long-term health effects of Adderall abuse include:1,8,9

  • Heart problems.
  • Hostility, anger, and aggression towards others.
  • Psychosis and paranoia.

Perhaps the most dangerous effect of Adderall misuse is overdose. If a person consumes enough of the drug, the stimulant will overwhelm the body, which may result in death.1

Why and How Do People Abuse Adderall and Other Rx Stimulants?

Stimulants are often called “uppers” because they are effective at keeping people energetic and awake. These effects are appealing and lead many people who don’t have a medical need for these drugs to abuse them.

Stimulants like Adderall can also make people may feel more productive, confident, and intelligent. In fact, misuse of Adderall and other stimulants by high school and college students is driven by a motivation to get better grades under the misconception that these drugs can improve your academic performance or your memory.1,10,11 In reality, there is little evidence to support that this works.3

People may also misuse prescription stimulants as a way to lose weight, since side effects include appetite suppression.1,11

Health Risks of Snorting, Smoking, or Injecting Adderall or Other Stimulant Medications

The route of administration can affect the experience a person has when misusing the substance. Using an alternative route of administration is often done in an effort to get the drug into the system as quickly as possible and intensify its effects.12

The risks of snorting, smoking, or injecting Adderall or other prescription stimulants are serious. Ignoring the risks can lead to severe health problems.

Method of administration is also linked to addiction risk.  Smoking and injecting are indicative of an escalation of drug use and thereby these routes may also be associated with a higher risk of becoming addicted than oral and nasal administration.2,12


Snorting may seem harmless to a user, but intranasal use of stimulants can result in damage to the nasal septum, including deviated septum.2,13

Snorting Adderall or other prescription stimulants may also result in loss of smell and recurring nosebleeds.13

Snorting also results in a much quicker onset of the effects of Ritalin (15-30 min vs. 45-60 min), which can increase the drug’s abuse and addiction potential.14


By crushing oral medications into a fine powdery substance, users may attempt to smoke or vaporize prescription stimulant medications. Not only is smoking Adderall or other prescription stimulants related to increased addiction potential but it may also bring lung and airway damage, including lung toxicity.2,13,15 Symptoms that may arise from smoking drugs illicitly include:16

  • Coughing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chronic bronchitis.


Whether the substance is heroin, cocaine, or prescription stimulants, intravenous drug injection is arguably the most dangerous route of drug administration. When injecting drugs, sharing paraphernalia can spread life-threatening infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis.1

Injecting prescription stimulants into the veins forces ingredients (which includes pill binders and fillers) from the tablets into tiny blood vessels, which can result in blocks blood vessels. Depending on the blockage, injections can damage the heart and other organs.3

Other risks of injecting drugs include:17

  • Skin infections and abscesses.
  • Scarring at the injection sites that may last for more for years.
  • Endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s lining.

Overdose on Adderall or Other Rx Stimulants

In situations when the person consumes too much of a prescription stimulant, overdose may occur. The signs of overdose on prescription stimulant medications include physical and mental health effects like:1

  • Confusion.
  • Aggression.
  • Restlessness.
  • Panic.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Tremors.
  • Overactive reflexes.
  • Quickened breathing.
  • Fever.
  • Pain.
  • Weakness.
  • Irregular heart rate and increased heart attack risk.
  • Extreme increase or decrease in blood pressure.
  • Nausea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Convulsions.

In severe cases, overdose from prescription stimulants may be fatal. 1 Drug overdose deaths involving psychostimulant drugs with abuse potential (e.g., Ritalin, Adderall, and methamphetamine) increased by an average of 30% each year from 2012 to 2018.18

Treatment for Addiction to Adderall or Other Stimulants

A stimulant addiction, or stimulant use disorder, occurs when a person’s stimulant use begins to significantly interfere with their health and/or other areas of their life.

Signs of a stimulant use disorder include:

  • Spending a lot of time trying to get and use stimulants and recover their effects.
  • Craving stimulants when none are available.
  • Trying to cut back or end your use without success.
  • Having legal, academic, social, physical, or mental health problems triggered by stimulants.
  • Needing to take stimulants in higher doses or more frequently to achieve the desired effects.

The above are not the only signs a professional will use to determine if a stimulant use disorder is present. The main criteria for a stimulant use disorder is that you are unable to quit even when using is causing problems for you. If you feel you have a problem with prescription stimulants and it is causing distress in your life, a professional can complete a full assessment to determine the extent of the problem and make treatment recommendations.

At Recovery First, we know that making the decision to seek help for a stimulant use disorder is not easy, but your recovery is possible. Put yourself first and call us today at to learn about inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Florida at Recovery First, or across the U.S. at our other American Addiction Centers’ facilities.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
Recovery First is located in Hollywood, Florida, which is easily accessible from Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.
Take your next step toward recovery:
✔ learn more about our addiction treatment programs.
✔ see how popular insurance providers such as Humana or Aetna offer coverage for rehab.
view photos of our facility.