The Risks of Smoking or Snorting Adderall
One of many popular prescription stimulants, Adderall treats attention problems and restlessness in people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The drug is sometimes prescribed to improve alertness in people with narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.
However, Adderall can also be misused and has significant addiction potential. Some people may choose to misuse the drug by smoking or snorting it. This page will go over the dangers of smoking and snorting Adderall.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which helps to improve attention in people with ADHD; however, the drug has been falsely associated with improved cognition, memory, and physical performance in those who do not have ADHD or narcolepsy.
For many people, misusing Adderall is a way to cram for a test, lose weight, or experience greater physical energy before a professional sports game. These are dangerous misuses of the drug, which can lead to addiction and chronic health problems.
Some people may attempt to intensify the effects of Adderall or speed up the time between intake and feeling these effects by snorting Adderall or smoking Adderall.
Misuse of Adderall Leads to Addiction
When a person misuses Adderall, they may start by consuming the drug orally. All stimulant drugs, whether Adderall, cocaine, or crystal meth, increase the amount of dopamine released by the brain; when a prescription stimulant like Ritalin or Adderall is taken orally, the dose will control the release of dopamine more slowly, at therapeutic levels.
For those with a condition like ADHD, this timed release moderates symptoms for a long time; for people who misuse the drug, however, the slower release of dopamine may become addictive, and they will then begin to crave a faster release. Their body will also likely develop a tolerance to the drug over time, meaning they will need to take more to get the original effects.
Instead of consuming more of the drug, which can lead to an overdose, some people may find other ways to misuse Adderall, so it begins to affect their brain faster. Smoking and snorting drugs are two ways that people misuse drugs so they affect brain pathways more rapidly, but these methods are incredibly dangerous and have serious side effects.
The act of snorting a powdered version of a drug is called insufflation, which is defined medically as the act of blowing a drug into a body cavity, such as gas or a medication. Snorting specifically involves insufflation in the nasal cavity, and most prescription medications are not formulated to be snorted, especially if they are taken regularly at home. When a person begins to snort a prescription medication, this is a form of substance misuse.
Snorting drugs gets the substance into the body faster, because the chemical enters the bloodstream through the thin mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Any snorted drug, whether it is Adderall, OxyContin, or cocaine, will begin to affect the brain within 5-10 minutes after it is snorted. Drugs like Adderall XR, the extended-release version of the prescription stimulant, may become targets for crushing and snorting because that is a method of bypassing additives meant to release the substance more slowly through the digestive system.
Not only does snorting Adderall increase the risk of addiction by releasing more dopamine more quickly, but it also increases the risk of overdose. Side effects become more intense as well. When a person snorts Adderall, they are more likely to experience seizures, psychotic episodes, panic attacks, and heart problems.
Someone that snorts Adderall is also at risk of damaging their nasal cavity, upper palate, throat, and upper respiratory system, which all have delicate mucous membranes. These membranes are easily damaged with repeated drug use, and that can lead to septal perforation, upper palate perforation, and an increased risk of respiratory infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis.
While crushing and snorting a drug is a rapid method of delivery, smoking a drug can cause it to enter the bloodstream even faster. The faster a drug reaches the brain and causes intoxication, the more addictive the drug is. It is rare for people who misuse Adderall to smoke the drug and more common for the substance to be crushed and snorted.
The substance enters the lungs and is absorbed into the blood through the alveoli in a matter of seconds. Within a minute or two, the drug has entered the brain and started to affect dopamine release. Smoking any drug, from nicotine to Adderall to crack cocaine, can cause lung damage. Chemicals binding to the lungs lead to inflammation, which may become permanent and cause bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This damage also increases the risk of lung cancer.
Regardless of how a person misuses Adderall, taking this drug with no medical reason is dangerous and can lead to addiction. Stimulants can cause heart problems, lung damage, and even affect memory and cognition. It is important to get help to detox from the drug and then enter a complete rehabilitation program to treat stimulant addiction.
Treatment for Adderall Addiction
Fortunately, there are evidence-based treatments that have helped many people struggling with stimulant use disorder get sober and remain in recovery. Recovery First, a rehab center in South Florida, offers several types of addiction treatment, including:
The care at Recovery First can help you or your loved one not only get past withdrawal, but develop the skills needed for long-term recovery. Reach out to an admissions navigator today at with questions about the care at Recovery First or to begin addiction treatment as soon as possible.