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The Effects of Adderall Use: Short-Term, Long-Term, Side Effects, and Treatment

What Is Adderall Used For?

Adderall is a form of amphetamine prescribed for the treatment of:1

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Narcolepsy.

It is available in 2 forms: immediate release and extended release.1 Both forms are suitable for the treatment for ADHD, but only the instant release form is approved for use in the treatment of narcolepsy.2

Adderall can be addictive and dangerous to those who abuse it.3

Adderall Short-Term Effects

When used for short periods as prescribed by a physician, Adderall 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.3

Adderall also increases heart rate, decreases blood flow, and opens up breathing passages.3

As a result of this, use of the drug can cause feelings of energy and invigoration, similar to the high experienced by cocaine users.4

Even when it is taken as prescribed, Adderall can have several negative effects in the short term, including:4

  • Appetite suppression and unhealthy weight loss.
  • Irritability/hostility.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Feelings of restlessness.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Potentially dangerous cardiac issues.

Adderall Effects of Abuse

Adderall is abused by people with and without ADHD. When misused, Adderall can cause feelings of boosted energy and intense invigoration—similar to the high experienced with illicit stimulants.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:4

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

Concerns Over Adderall 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.5

In some countries, such as Japan, concerns over Adderall are so strong that it is banned completely, even for prescription use.6

Credit: CBS

Adderall Side Effects

Adderall’s side effects vary widely, depending on the individual. The drug’s effects on the body’s heart rate can lead to cardiovascular problems, such as:3,4

  • Disrupted heart rhythm.
  • Increased blood pressure.

Users may also experience loss of appetite, which can lead to malnutrition, excessive weight loss, and related issues.3,4

Other potential side effects of Adderall use include:4

  • Headaches.
  • Dryness of the mouth.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Tremors/twitching.
  • Decreased inhibitions.
  • Paranoia.

Long-Term Effects Of Adderall Use

Chronic abuse of Adderall may result in effects such as:3,4

  • Erratic behavior.
  • Paranoia.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Vitamin deficiencies.
  • Physiological disorders.
  • Irregular heartbeat and increased heart attack risk.
  • Abnormal blood pressure levels.

Adderall Dependence

Dependence on Adderall can be:

  • Psychological.
  • Physical.

Psychological dependence (addiction) occurs when a person takes Adderall compulsively. Those with Adderall addictions will undertake extreme measures to attain and use the drug, even if it means putting their well-being at risk.8 Addiction may be addressed by using therapeutic techniques to enable the user to change his or her patterns of behavior. This may include individual therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and/or other techniques.

Physical dependence occurs when a user becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug in the brain, such that stopping the use of Adderall causes Adderall withdrawal symptoms.3

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:3,9

  • Depression.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Anxiety.
  • Fatigue.
  • Either sleeping for extended periods or being unable to sleep at all.

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.9 Many addiction treatment centers provide supportive medical supervision throughout the duration of Adderall detox and withdrawal to minimize discomfort and ensure the safety of the process.

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

Find Adderall Addiction Treatment Programs

Professional treatment can start anyone battling addiction on the path to a happier and healthier life. Rehab facilities are located throughout the U.S., and many offer specialized treatment that can cater to individual needs. You can use SAMHSA’s Behavioral Services Locator to search for treatment centers. Many state government websites will also provide local drug and alcohol resources to those in need. To find your state government’s website, do a web search for your state name and ‘.gov.’ Once your state website is located, substance use resources shouldn’t be hard to find, and they should provide further phone contacts for your assistance.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of addiction treatment programs and has trusted facilities across the country. To learn more about rehab programs and treatment options with AAC, please contact one of our caring admissions navigators free at .

Treatment can save your life and, in some cases, some or all of it will be paid for by your insurance. If you’re ready to reach out, have your health insurance information with you. This will help any treatment programs determine how much of your life-saving care will be covered.

Adderall Addiction Treatment Levels of Care

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