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The Effects of Adderall Use

  1. Article Quick LinksPrint
  2. Short-Term Effects of Adderall
  3. Side Effects
  4. Long-Term Effects of Adderall
  5. Adderall Dependence
  6. Adderall Withdrawal Treatment

Although approved for use for both ADHD and narcolepsy, Adderall is frequently diverted for illicit consumption  often as a study aid or performance booster.

Although approved for use for both ADHD and narcolepsy, Adderall is frequently diverted for illicit consumption – often as a study aid or performance booster.

Adderall is a form of amphetamine, legally used in a limited number of countries, primarily the United States and Canada, for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is available in two forms, instant release and extended release. Both forms are suitable for the treatment for ADHD, but only the instant release form is approved for use in the treatment of narcolepsy. Adderall has also been used unofficially for the treatment of obesity, severe depression and sleep-related disorders.

Even in countries where Adderall is legally available on prescription, it is recognized as a drug with a high potential for abuse, and supplies of it are often limited. Additionally there are concerns regarding the prescription of Adderall to children; for example in the UK, physicians are advised to refrain from prescribing Adderall to children under five in any circumstances and to prescribe it to children over five only if no other viable options are available. In some counties, concerns over Adderall are so strong that it is banned completely, even for prescription use. To help an Adderall addict, call our helpline at 1-800-943-0566 for more information.

Adderall Effects question 1

Synaptic Effects of Adderall

Short-Term Effects of Adderall

Used for short periods, Adderall counteracts ADHD and narcolepsy by upregulating the availability of certain neurotransmitters (chiefly, norepinephrine and dopamine), increasing the heart rate and the flow of blood to the muscles. As a result of this, the use of Adderall can cause feelings of energy and invigoration, similar to the high often experienced after exercise.


Credit: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH)

Users frequently report improvements in focus and concentration, which has led to Adderall being used illegally as a study aid, enabling students to concentrate for longer periods. It has also been reportedly used by athletes to improve sports performance, with a number of sporting bodies taking steps to limit its use strictly to athletes with a legitimate diagnosis of ADHD. Adderall can also create feelings of euphoria, which has led to it becoming popular as a recreational drug. Once this initial effect has worn off, Adderall users can feel tired, depressed and irritable, although this may be countered by reducing usage of the drug slowly, rather than stopping suddenly.

Prescription stimulant medicationsin this case, Adderallbehave similarly to cocaine at a molecular level, and elicit a similar surge of dopamine in the brains reward circuitry.

Prescription stimulant medications—in this case, Adderall—behave similarly to cocaine at a molecular level, and elicit a similar surge of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuitry. Image source: Drugabuse.gov

Adderall Effects question 2

Side Effects

The side effects of Adderall vary widely, depending on the individual. Adderall's effect on the body's heart rate can lead to cardiovascular problems, such as disrupted heart rhythm and increased blood pressure. Users may also experience loss of appetite, which can lead to excessive weight loss and related issues. Other potential side effects include headaches, dryness of the mouth and difficulty sleeping.

As a pharmaceutically manufactured medication, Adderall is found in tablet or capsule form, in varying doses.

As a pharmaceutically manufactured medication, Adderall is available in varying doses, in both tablet and capsule form.

In addition to the above, people who use Adderall as a recreational drug are at severe risk of further complications if they mix it with alcohol. Due to the fact that Adderall counterbalances some of the common signs of excessive alcohol consumption, it is very easy to succumb to alcohol poisoning without any prior warning. There are further complications possible if Adderall and alcohol are mixed, given that both Adderall and alcohol have dehydrating properties and that alcohol is a depressant, which can aggravate the psychological issues associated with the withdrawal from Adderall.

Due to its stimulating properties, Adderall can cause smokers to crave cigarettes substantially more than they usually do, thereby increasing their risk of smoking-related illnesses.

To learn more about the abuse of Adderall as a study drug by college students and the impact, read our full in-depth article on The Rise of the Study Drug here.

Adderall Effects question 3

Long-Term Effects of Adderall

Using Adderall over an extended period can increase the risk of critical cardiovascular problems and strokes. There are also significant mental health issues associated with the long-term use of Adderall, such as depression, hostility and paranoia. In children, protracted use of Adderall may inhibit growth.

Adderall Effects question 4

Adderall Dependence

Like most stimulants, Adderall users can become dependent on the drug, and exhibit characteristic withdrawal symptoms.

Like most stimulants, Adderall users can become dependent on the drug, and exhibit characteristic withdrawal symptoms.

Dependence on Adderall can be either psychological or physical.

Psychological dependence occurs when a person takes Adderall as part of a routine and using the drug becomes a subconscious habit. A person with a psychological dependence on Adderall may exhibit the physical effects of stress, such as headaches and sweat, if they are denied access to the drug when they believe that they need it. As its name implies, psychological dependence may be addressed by using psychological techniques to persuade the user to change his or her pattern of behavior.

Adderall Effects question 5

Physical dependence occurs when a user becomes accustomed to the presence of high levels of dopamine in the brain so that stopping the use of Adderall causes dopamine levels to drop suddenly, triggering withdrawal symptoms such as depression, tiredness and either sleeping for extended periods or being unable to sleep at all.

Adderall Effects question 6

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Adderall Withdrawal Treatment

At the current time, although there are no approved medications available to specifically assist users with the stimulant withdrawal process, it may be possible to use antidepressants to help with some of the psychological effects of Adderall withdrawal. The physical effects of Adderall withdrawal include fatigue, disorientation and increased appetite. Additionally, many in withdrawal report intense cravings which, if unchecked, can lead to continued drug use. While in most cases, stimulant withdrawal is not a medical emergency, it can be a quite difficult and uncomfortable time period. Many treatment centers provide supportive medical supervision throughout the duration of Adderall detox and withdrawal to minimize discomfort.

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