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Adderall Abuse

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Signs and Symptoms
  3. Effects of Adderall Abuse
  4. Adderall Abuse Treatment
  5. Teen Adderall Abuse
  6. Resources, Articles and More Information


Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine that is used primarily to treat the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It has benefits with sleep disorders and some forms of severe depression as well.

This drug is classified as a central nervous system stimulant, which means it speeds up and heightens certain bodily processes. Adderall is an oral medication prescribed by a physician who will normally start a patient on a low dose to avoid unwanted side effects, gradually increasing it if necessary.

Adderall abuse occurs in several ways including:

  • Taking a higher dose of the substance than prescribed.
  • Taking the medicine through another method like snorting.
  • Taking the drug for reasons other than medical need like staying awake for long periods of time.
  • Taking the medication more frequently than prescribed.
  • Taking someone else’s medication.

Adderall Statistics

  • According to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, also called NSDUH, approximately 6.4% of fulltime college students between the ages of 18 and 22 used Adderall in a recreational way in the past year. On top of this, 89.5% of students who reported Adderall abuse also participated in binge drinking in the past month, and over half of those students were heavy abusers of alcohol.
  • In 2006 and 2007, the NSDUH reported that students going to school fulltime between the ages of 18 and 22 were 2 times as likely to have used Adderall recreationally, opposed to those in the same age who do not go to school full time.
  • Students who were in college fulltime using Adderall for recreational purposes were also recognized as being three times as likely to have used marijuana, and they were eight times more likely to have used prescription tranquilizers recreationally as well.

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Signs and Symptoms

Adderall can cause side effects, and abusing Adderall can cause side effects to occur with higher frequency and intensity. Some symptoms of Adderall abuse include:

  • Nervousness and restlessness.
  • Pounding or fast heartbeat.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Headache.
  • Difficulty sleeping and staying to sleep.
  • Changes in sex drive.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Loss of appetite and resulting weight loss.
  • Hoarseness.
  • Excessive fatigue.

Other Dangerous Symptoms

The above side effects can happen when taking doses that are appropriately prescribed. With long-term abuse or abuse that involves high doses of Adderall, the symptoms can compound and can include:

  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.
  • Dizziness.
  • Slowed or difficult speech.
  • Chest pain.
  • Hives or rash.
  • Blistering or peeling skin
  • Changes in vision.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Paranoia.
  • Mania.
  • Seizures.

If you notice any of the above in yourself or another,  it is important to seek emergency help as soon as possible or to consult your doctor immediately.

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Symptoms of Adderall Overdose

Overdosing on a stimulant medication like Adderall can lead to serious health effects. If you suspect an overdose, call 911 or your local emergency services.

The Dangers of Combining Adderall and Alcohol

Another risk of overdose associated with Adderall is when the substance is mixed with other substances like alcohol.

Adderall has the ability to mask certain indictors of intoxication that people would frequently use to slow or stop their consumption. Since these signs go unnoticed, the user will continue drinking that may lead to alcohol poisoning, coma, or death.

Some symptoms of overdose include:

  • Feelings of panic.
  • Quickened breathing.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Restlessness.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Uncontrollable shakes.
  • Confusion.
  • Coma.
  • Dizziness.

For more info and articles about the symptoms of overdose, contact our 24-hour hotline at 1-800-943-0566. Our staff can help you understand the ways Adderall can affect your body, whether it is taken as recommended or recreationally.
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Effects of Adderall Abuse

Adderall abuse can lead to more serious side effects. Problems can occur when the drug is not taken as directed including:

  • Tolerance, which means needing more of the drug to obtain the same result. Often, as use increases, it becomes impossible to ever recreate the initial high.
  • Dependency, which means that your body does not function the same without the drug.
  • Addiction, which means that you consistently seek out the medication despite knowing the risks and consequences.

Patients are more likely to overdose and to cause harm to their bodies when the drug is misused. A major concern for many people that abuse Adderall over an extended period is the risk of cardiovascular issues. Since Adderall is a stimulant, it plays a major role in:

  • Increasing your blood pressure.
  • Increasing your heart rate.
  • Increasing your body temperature to dangerous levels.

These factors combined are linked to serious medical issues like stroke.

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Credit: CBS

Adderall Abuse Treatment

Knowing the facts about Adderall can help prevent needing treatment by preventing addiction. Preventative treatment for Adderall abuse include:

  • Educating yourself and those around you about the risks of the substance.
  • Tracking and monitoring use of the substance in your home.
  • Keeping medication in a safe place so that it cannot be abused by others.

However, if you or someone you know needs treatment for Adderall addiction, rehab centers can help.

Rehabilitation centers will help by providing detoxification services and will aid in treating patients for psychological addictions as well as physical.

Professional services like inpatient or outpatient treatment are often necessary for those struggling with Adderall abuse because stimulant abuse over a period of time cause changes to the brain due to higher than normal levels of the chemical dopamine.

Once the patient stops abusing Adderall, the brain will experience a strong desire for more dopamine leading to cravings for Adderall. Other common withdrawal symptoms of Adderall include:

  • Low energy.
  • Depression.
  • Disrupted sleep.

Treatment options will vary according to the level of abuse present. Inpatient, outpatient, long-term residential programs offering a combination of individual and group therapy to treat the addiction and underlying mental health issues.

It’s important to note that treatment centers and their services can vary widely, so it’s essential to interview the facility to find out:

  • How long the stay will be (e.g., 28 days, 90 days, etc.), if inpatient.
  • The treatment center’s philosophy about treatment.
  • Which types of treatment are provided (e.g., contingency management, cognitive behavioral therapy, etc.)
  • Amenities and training the center provides.

If you're abusing Adderall, you don't have to continue one more day. Call 1-888-747-7155 to speak to someone who can discuss your recovery options with you.

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Teen Adderall Abuse

Adderall abuse by teens and young adults is common because of stress and time management issues at college make the perceived effects of the drug more appealing.

In 2006 and 2007, the NSDUH reported that students going to school full-time between the ages of 18 and 22 were twice as likely to have used Adderall recreationally, opposed to those in the same age who do not go to school full time.

Students using Adderall for recreational purposes were also recognized as being:

  • 3 times as likely to have used
  • AND
  • 8 times more likely to have used prescription tranquilizers like Xanax and Klonopin recreationally.

According to the Monitoring the Future Study, use among 10th graders has remained at 2011 levels through 2014, but use among 12th graders has increased from 6.5% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2014.

Reports show that students that abuse Adderall are more likely to have lower grades than students that do not abuse the substance.

Preventing Teen Adderall Abuse

If you help your child learn about the dangers of Adderall abuse and better ways to manage time, activities, homework and other school-related items, he or she will be less likely to need the drug to stave off sleep.

A crucial part of prevention is to inform young adults that there is no association documented between Adderall abuse and increased study abilities or intelligence. In actuality, reports show that students that abuse Adderall are more likely to have lower grades than students that do not abuse the substance.

Remember, the more you speak with your child about the dangers of drug use, the less likely he will be to abuse drugs. It's especially important to emphasize the dangers of prescription drugs. Many teens feel that these drugs are not as dangerous as illicit drugs and take them without as much concern.

If you're concerned about your child's use of Adderall, don't wait for the problem to escalate. Find help and support now by calling  1-800-943-0566 to speak with a treatment support specalist.

Resources, Articles and More Information

For more information on the dangers of Adderall, see the following articles:

You can also hear from others and join the conversation by visiting our Forum today.

Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.