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The Effects of Adderall Use

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Is Adderall Harmful?
  3. Short-Term Effects
  4. Side Effects
  5. Long-Term Effects of Adderall
  6. Adderall Dependence
  7. Am I Addicted to Adderall?
  8. Adderall Withdrawal Treatment

Woman looking at pills

Is Adderall Harmful?

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).
  • Narcolepsy.
  • Depression.

It is available in 2 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 can be addictive and dangerous to those who abuse it.

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Short-Term Effects


When used for short periods as prescribed by a physician, it has the positive effect of counteracting symptoms of ADHD. This happens by:

  • Increasing the availability of certain neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. These brain chemicals are responsible for boosting alertness, attention, and energy levels.
  • Increasing the heart rate and the flow of blood to the muscles.

As a result of this, the use of the drug can cause feelings of energy and invigoration, similar to the high experienced by cocaine users.

Even when taken as prescribed, it can have several negative effects in the short-term including:

  • Appetite suppression and unhealthy weight loss.
  • Irritability.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Feelings of restlessness.
  • Potentially dangerous cardiac issues.

Effects of Abuse

When misused, it can cause feelings of boosted energy and intense invigoration--similar to the high experienced by cocaine users. Adderall can also create rewarding feelings of euphoria, which has led to it becoming popular as a recreational drug. However, once the initial, positive effects have worn off, Adderall abuse can produce many unwanted symptoms including:

  • Fatigue.
  • Feelings of depression and lethargy.
  • Increased irritability.
  • Decreased ability to concentrate.

If you or someone you care about is feeling these side effects, it may be time to get help.

Concerns Over Use

Even in countries where Adderall is legally available by 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 to children under 5 years old in any circumstances
  • Prescribe it to children over 5 only if no other viable options are available.

In some countries, concerns over Adderall are so strong that it is banned completely, even for prescription use.

Side Effects

Adderall's side effects vary widely, depending on the individual. The effects on the body's heart rate can lead to cardiovascular problems, such as:

  • Disrupted heart rhythm.
  • Increased blood pressure.

Users may also experience loss of appetite, which can lead to malnutrition, excessive weight loss and related issues.

Other potential side effects  include:

  • Headaches.
  • Dryness of the mouth.
  • Difficulty sleeping.

Mixing Adderall with Alcohol

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 disguises some of the common signs of excessive alcohol consumption like slurred speech and lethargy, it is very easy to experience alcohol poisoning without noticing the warning signs leading up to it.There are further complications possible if Adderall and alcohol are mixed. For example:

  • Both Adderall and alcohol have dehydrating properties.
  • Alcohol is a depressant, which can further exacerbate potential psychological issues associated with the withdrawal from Adderall.

Video: Adderall Abuse

The following news report provides insight into the current problem of Adderall abuse and the dangerous consequences of taking this drug recreationally.

Credit: CBS

Long-Term Effects of Adderall

  • Depression.
  • Hostility.
  • Paranoia.

The above changes are likely to occur due to the continually high levels of neurotransmitters available in the brain during Adderall use.

In children, protracted use of Adderall may inhibit growth due to malnutrition brought about by the stimulant properties like appetite suppression.

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Adderall Dependence

Those with an Adderall dependency will undertake extreme measures to attain and use the drug even if it means putting their well-being at risk.

Dependence on Adderall can be:

  • Psychological.
  • Physical.

Psychological dependence and addiction occur when a person takes Adderall as part of a routine and using the drug becomes an irresistible compulsion. A person with a psychological dependence on Adderall may exhibit the physical effects of stress - such as headaches and sweating - if they are denied access to the drug when they believe that they need it.

Those with an Adderall dependency will undertake extreme measures to attain and use the drug even if it means putting their well-being at risk.

As its name implies, psychological dependence may be addressed by using psychological techniques to enable the user to change his or her pattern of behavior. This may include individual therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and/or other techniques.

Adderall Effects question 5

Physical dependence occurs when a user becomes accustomed to the presence of high levels of dopamine in the brain, such that stopping the use of Adderall causes dopamine levels to drop suddenly. This can trigger withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Depression.
  • Tiredness.
  • Either sleeping for extended periods or being unable to sleep at all.

As physical dependence develops, the user requires ever-increasing amounts to feel the same effects, which amplifies the side effects and increases the risk of overdose.

Am I Addicted to Adderall?

The first step to recovery is understanding your problem. If you're unsure whether your use of Adderall has become an issue, take the test to assess your addiction level. This will help you understand your needs and treatment requirements.


Adderall Withdrawal Treatment

At the current time, although there are no approved medications available to specifically assist users with the stimulant withdrawal process, there is some evidence that antidepressants may help to manage some of the psychological effects of Adderall withdrawal. Some physiologic effects of Adderall withdrawal include:

  • Low energy.
  • Disorientation.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Lack of motivation.

Additionally, many in withdrawal report intense cravings which, if unchecked, can lead to relapse and continued drug use.

While in most cases, stimulant withdrawal is not a medical emergency, it can be quite a difficult and uncomfortable time period to navigate. Many treatment centers provide supportive medical supervision throughout the duration of Adderall detox and withdrawal to minimize discomfort and ensure safety through the process.


Once withdrawal is completed, effective behavioral interventions are available for Adderall abuse that follow a similar path as treatments for cocaine and methamphetamine addictions. Treatments may include:

  • Contingency management. This therapy provide reinforcement for client who make healthy choices and avoid Adderall use.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This treatment can explore the factors leading to drug abuse, methods to reduce risk, and more beneficial coping skills.
  • Recovery groups. These community-based programs allow people in recovery to meet with each other to discuss their successes and challenges.

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