Adderall Addiction: Signs and Symptoms

Adderall is a powerful stimulant medication that many people, especially young adults, misuse. It has strong effects, similar to methamphetamine, and can be addictive if not used as per a doctor’s recommendation. A prescription amphetamine, Adderall is used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, as it helps people focus and stay alert. However, when it is taken frequently and in unprescribed doses, it can also cause anxiety, obsession, and social development issues.

A primary reason for Adderall being so dangerous is that the brain reacts quickly to it. If individuals take it in higher doses than prescribed, they can develop tolerance and dependency for it and may start taking more of it.

As with any other drug addiction, Adderall addiction can be life-threatening. If you or a loved one is struggling with Adderall addiction, taking timely steps to curb and eventually stop its use is necessary before things spiral out of control. Read on to find out what Adderall addiction’s signs and symptoms are and what treatment options exist to overcome the addiction.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a well-known prescription medication that can be addictive. It contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants that boost the release of norepinephrine and dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain, resulting in higher concentration and reduced impulsivity.

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Adderall’s use as a medicinal drug in 1996, it is classified as a Schedule II drug for its high potential to cause physical dependence. Doctors prescribe Adderall for specific mental health conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

How Does Adderall Work?

As Adderall helps improve focus and alertness, it is prescribed for individuals diagnosed with ADHD and narcolepsy. Adderall releases higher amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain that stimulate the CNS. Norepinephrine impacts the brain’s ability to respond to stimuli with heightened attention while reducing hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, and dopamine, also known as the feel-good chemical, helps reinforce rewarding behaviors.

Although dopamine is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies, drugs like Adderall can elevate its levels. Consequently, individuals may develop the habit of taking the drug more than the prescribed doses to experience the same desired effects. Once the addiction develops, the brain becomes dependent on the substance to maintain wakefulness and boost productivity. If the individuals attempt to stop the drug use, they experience withdrawal symptoms like fatigue and mental fog.

Why Does Adderall Help People with ADHD?

Adderall helps individuals who have been diagnosed with ADHD by bringing their heightened brain activity down to a normal level. This helps break the patterns of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior while also improving concentration and reducing inattention.

Those without ADHD will experience the effects of Adderall differently than those who struggle with it. They may experience ‘euphoria’ and increased energy levels and may also develop dangerous emotional and physical side effects.

Apart from treating ADHD, Adderall is also used by medical professionals to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder marked by excessive sleepiness during the day. Adderall helps people diagnosed with narcolepsy feel more alert and awake due to the combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine found in the drug’s composition.

Is Adderall Addictive?

Yes, using Adderall, which is a powerful amphetamine, for prolonged periods can result in tolerance and dependence and lead to the development of a substance use disorder. Misusing prescription stimulants like Adderall to improve one’s academic performance or counter the effects of other substances has been identified as the root cause of substance use disorders.

Adderall addiction develops subtly, with people taking higher doses to maintain or enhance their focus and productivity. However, when the use continues over time, it leads to people becoming physically and psychologically dependent on the drug. This dependence soon turns into addiction, which can interfere with daily routines and adversely affect individuals’ health.

Recognizing Adderall addiction signs and symptoms early on can help you reach out for professionals’ help. Professionals can offer guidance on how to begin Adderall addiction treatment and prepare holistic and personalized treatment plans to help overcome addiction and go back to drug-free life.

Adderall Effects And Abuse

Many people mistakenly believe that Adderall is safe to consume, as doctors prescribe it. However, they fail to understand that prolonged use of this prescription drug, especially for non-medical purposes, can result in long-term side effects and can even cause addiction. Some common side effects of Adderall are:

  • Feeling “spacey”
  • Increased heart rate
  • Cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart)
  • Spike in blood pressure
  • Blurry vision
  • Hair loss in clumps
  • Frequent headaches
  • Dizziness & nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of motivation
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in libido
  • Impotence
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Slowed speech
  • Skin problems
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Cardiovascular issues

People become habituated to using Adderall for its ability to induce feelings of euphoria, increase concentration, and suppress appetite. It is essential to realize that the consumption of Adderall by snorting pills or taking excessive doses without a doctor’s guidance constitutes drug abuse.

Adderall abuse may help individuals with weight loss, academic performance, athletic training, and combating fatigue to stay alert, but just focusing on the perceived benefits and ignoring the repercussions of misuse can ruin both physical and mental health in the long run.

Who Abuses Adderall?

Even though many people think that only high school and college students abuse Adderall, statistics indicate that many young adults and older people also abuse this drug. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders states that most people who have sought help for Adderall addiction started taking the drug around the age of 23.

Students and professionals

Adderall is a stimulant that helps individuals concentrate better and stay awake for longer periods without feeling sluggish. This makes it a go-to solution for high school students and college students who use it as a “study drug.” Professionals who take the drug to deal with the mounting pressure of responsibilities at work are also affected by Adderall misuse.


Athletes are known for using Adderall to tackle fatigue and improve performance during practice and competitions. In 2012, there was a record-breaking number of suspensions in the National Football League due to Adderall substance abuse.

People with eating disorders

Individuals who struggle with eating disorders may misuse Adderall to control their food cravings. If those with eating disorders become dependent on Adderall, they will need treatment to deal with both problems.

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Adderall Addiction Signs

Adderall addiction signs may become manifest as physical, psychological, and behavioral side effects. Some common signs of Adderall addiction include:

  • A sudden burst in energy levels and productivity
  • Lack of sleep (insomnia) or sleep disturbances
  • Reduced appetite and drastic weight loss
  • Frequent mood swings 
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Severe anxiety
  • Psychosis and schizophrenia
  • Panic attacks
  • Restlessness
  • Dehydration
  • Feeling depressed and suicidal
  • Confusion
  • Behavioral changes like lying, stealing, or being secretive

Some signs may be similar to ADHD symptoms, but you must pay attention and observe how severe and prolonged these signs have been. If you notice multiple signs for a long time, you must get professional help.

Difference Between Adderall Addiction vs. Adderall Dependence

A research report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown that when an individual uses a drug regularly, their body develops a physical dependence on the drug. Any attempts to stop taking the drug or limit its consumption result in withdrawal symptoms.

On the other hand, addiction involves not just dependence on the drug but also a compulsive tendency to seek drugs, impacting the individual’s ability to function properly at home, school, or the office. Addiction hampers an addicted individual’s daily routine, making it hard for them to focus on the tasks at hand.

How Can I Safely Withdraw from Adderall?

Adderall withdrawal can feel like a sudden crash, especially for those who attempt to go cold turkey. This is why doctors will prescribe a low dose of this CNS stimulant. A low dosage of Adderall is less likely to cause withdrawal symptoms when an individual stops taking the medicine.

In cases where Adderall withdrawal symptoms emerge, medical detox is recommended to manage the symptoms successfully. Adderall withdrawal symptoms can last a few days or months, and there is a higher chance of relapse during this period. Therefore, seeking treatment at addiction centers under the supervision of healthcare professionals and clinical staff is necessary to tackle any severe symptoms that may develop and prevent relapse.

What Are the Symptoms of Adderall Withdrawal?

When an individual tries to discontinue or cut down on the use of Adderall, they may experience challenges marked by withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry mouth
  • Low energy
  • Bodily tremors
  • Body aches
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Uncontrollable cravings
  • Depression

How Long Do Adderall Withdrawals Last?

The duration and severity of Adderall withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person. However, with a basic understanding of the withdrawal timeline, you will know what to expect after the initial effects of the drug start to wear off and secondary withdrawal symptoms start to set in. This is what a typical withdrawal timeline looks like:

  • First 24 hours of the last dose: Withdrawal symptoms begin
  • 1-3 days after the last dose: Withdrawal symptoms continue
  • 3-5 days after the last dose: Withdrawal symptoms start to subside
  • While most withdrawal symptoms will resolve within a week for some people, others may experience these symptoms for more extended periods of time (protracted symptoms). Protracted withdrawal symptoms are known to affect mental health primarily.

What Are the Benefits of Quitting Adderall for Your Health?

Quitting Adderall use can be challenging, but if you can prepare yourself to undergo Adderall substance abuse treatment, you can reap many benefits and prevent co-occurring health problems. Typical benefits of quitting Adderall are:

  • Enhance physical health
  • Regained mental clarity
  • Improved sleep cycles
  • Better emotional health
  • Restored healthy eating habits
  • Increased productivity in the workplace
  • Enhanced interpersonal relationships
  • Reduced financial burden
  • Better mood
  • Restored motivation

Adderall Addiction And Abuse Statistics

Adderall abuse and addiction are growing concerns in the states. These statistics will help shed light on how widespread Adderall abuse is and how it impacts Americans.

Approximately 16 million prescriptions for Adderall and other stimulants were written in 2012, which was way more than the prescriptions written in 2008.

Around 116,000 people underwent rehabilitation at treatment centers for addiction to Adderall and other amphetamines.

How to Treat Adderall Addiction

Getting treated for Adderall addiction demands patience and perseverance. Taking a comprehensive approach to treatment that employs both medical monitoring and therapies can be beneficial. A good starting point for those seeking treatment can be a medically assisted detox under the supervision of a physician. Your physician will then create a personalized treatment and recovery plan tailored to your needs.

Some evidence-based treatment methods for recovery are:

  • Inpatient rehabilitation
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Emotional and behavioral health therapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Counseling programs
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Support groups

In addition to these treatment modalities, you can also spend time in nature, get music therapy, or practice meditation. The goal is to regain control over your life and integrate back into society as a fully functioning individual, so do not hesitate to explore alternative therapies and make them part of your treatment program.

Adderall Addiction Treatment and Aftercare

Overcoming Adderall addiction requires a holistic and individualized treatment approach that addresses the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of an individual’s health. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment when it comes to treating Adderall addiction. Effective treatment methods can vary for each individual, so it’s crucial to tailor treatment plans to meet the unique needs of every patient.

Treatment options range from inpatient programs that provide round-the-clock medical attention and support to outpatient programs that allow individuals to continue living their lives while receiving support. Once treatment is completed, recovering individuals continue to receive care or aftercare to sustain efforts for long-term recovery.

The first step to recovery is acknowledging that Adderall abuse is a problem, and it can only be curbed with professional help. If you or someone you know is struggling with Adderall addiction, contact our team at Discover Recovery today.

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