Adderall Addiction: Understanding and Overcoming Amphetamine Abuse

Addiction Resource > Addictive Substances: The Anatomy of Drug Addiction > Adderall Addiction: Understanding and Overcoming Amphetamine Abuse

Adderall Addiction

Adderall is a potent stimulator of the central nervous system in the human body. It is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine drug with about 16 million prescriptions written each year in the United States. Because it has a strong potential for addiction, it is a Schedule II controlled substance, available by prescription only. Nonetheless, every year about 116,000 Americans are admitted to rehab for amphetamine addiction.

There are legitimate uses for Adderall. It is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy at doses ranging from 5 mg to 30 mg. This medication is legally available in tablet form to decrease fatigue in patients with narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by excessive somnolence. In individuals with ADHD, the drug acts as a stimulant and increases alertness.

Adderall can be highly addictive. It increases dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical that is associated with feelings of pleasure and improved motivation. Serotonin and norepinephrine control sleep and appetite. This is why Adderall use in college is a fast-growing concern. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 6 percent of full-time college students use Adderall without a prescription. Full-time college students are twice as likely to abuse amphetamines than their peers who do not attend college.

Adderall is available on the black market under different street names such as speed, black beauties, uppers, pep pills, and Addys. What are the signs of amphetamine abuse? Are there Adderall addiction symptoms you should be aware of? Read on to find out this and more.

Addiction professional with a phone

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options.
Call our free and confidential helpline

Treatment Is Fully Covered by Insurance In Most Cases

Adderall: A Prescription Stimulant

generic adderall pillsWhat is a drug? A drug is any substance that produces physiological changes in the body. Some drugs slow things down while others speed things up. Stimulants increase attention, alertness, and energy and can be extremely addictive. Adderall is a stimulant medication that is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It promotes the release of neurotransmitters at nerve terminals and inhibits their normal reuptake. This means neurotransmitters remain in the synapse for an extended period of time, triggering a chemically induced euphoric effect.

Is Adderall a narcotic? By definition, it is a stimulant and not a narcotic. But it is a Schedule II controlled substance, which puts it in the same category as narcotics. It is known as a study drug, crash diet drug, and party drug because of its effects. Adderall abuse statistics are quite alarming. One study at the University of Kentucky found 30 percent of students abuse ADHD medications. People abuse methamphetamines for different reasons, including weight loss, long study hours, staying awake, improved athletic performance, and recreational highs. Traditionally, this drug is abused by high school and college students, but working professionals, athletes, and people with eating disorders are also known to misuse this medication.

The drug can be ingested, plugged, or snorted. Adderall plugging refers to taking the drug by the rectal route by inserting the pill or capsule or using an enema to get high. Many addicts prefer this method because it produces a rapid effect. However, there are some significant dangers to plugging, such as damage to rectal tissues and intense side effects. Snorting Adderall also produces a very fast high because the drug is absorbed quickly through the mucous membranes of the nose and transmitted through the blood-brain barrier.

Understanding Adderall Abuse and Addiction

Adderall is a stimulant drug that increases dopamine levels in the brain and produces cocaine-like effects. The dopamine surge produces what is called an Adderall high, associated with improved motivation, better learning abilities, and heightened sensations of pleasure. This unnaturally high level of this reward chemical in the brain keeps users coming back for more. In fact, about six hours after ingestion, when the effects begin to wear off, users experience an Adderall comedown, characterized by various physical and mental changes such as irritability, rage, panic, phobias, dehydration, and fatigue.

Habitual use leads to tolerance, with the individual using larger and more frequent doses to get the desired effect. Because of the potent effects of Adderall on the human brain, the risk of addiction to this medication is high. With prolonged use, the person becomes addicted to the drug and is unable to function without it. Addicts need the drug to remain alert and productive. Without it, they feel fatigued and mentally foggy.

One side effect of Adderall abuse is a loss of appetite. Some people misuse the drug for this effect. While the medication does have appetite-suppressing properties, Adderall for weight loss does not have FDA approval. When taken without a prescription or doctor’s instructions, there are a number of side effects of Adderall as well as the risk of addiction and overdose. What are the symptoms of Adderall abuse? Read on to find out.

Recognizing Addiction to Amphetamines

Girl Holding PillsNo one takes amphetamines with an intention to become addicted. Most people begin taking stimulants to increase productivity before an important test or get through a stressful time in their life. Yet, it is very easy for what begins as occasional use to turn into a dependency. To feed the habit, some people even fake ADHD symptoms and get a prescription for the medicine, without recognizing the seriousness of Adderall abuse symptoms and Adderall abuse effects.

Getting off Adderall is not impossible, but one must recognize abuse in a loved one in time. Kathy Fee, the mother of the late Richard Fee, shared the story of her son’s Adderall addiction on From being a clear-headed man, her son became someone who exhibited bouts of extreme paranoia. At one point, he was putting tape on his fingertips to prevent his fingerprints from staying on the keyboard. He thought people were watching him and taped the camera on his computer. Richard’s father recalls him becoming violent and making threats. It came to a point where the family was so afraid that they slept with their doors locked. Not soon after, Richard killed himself. The moral of the story is that it’s important to notice even the slightest changes in behavior.

Here are some important Adderall addiction signs to look out for:

  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Using the medicine more often than prescribed
  • Needing larger doses to function
  • Obtaining the medication from others
  • Other drug-seeking behavior despite knowing possible harmful effects
  • Being unable to finish assignments without the medication
  • Spending money on obtaining the drug from illicit sources
  • Feeling tired and mentally fatigued without the drug
  • Taking the medication for fun

In 2015, Shire Pharmaceuticals paid out more than 50 million dollars in an Adderall lawsuit for failing to inform patients about the side effects of the drug, including addiction, heart attack, stroke, renal failure, and sudden death.

Addicts commonly combine the medication with alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana, with dangerous consequences. Did you know the signs of amphetamine overdose include chest pain, nausea, vomiting, uncontrolled shaking, fever, fainting, and fast breathing?

Adderall Abuse Side Effects

Virtually every drug that enters the body, whether it is prescribed by a doctor or not, has some side effects. Stimulants taken by prescription can have an adverse impact on the body. However, when abused and taken without medical supervision, the effects are more frequent and more intense. Some of the common effects of Adderall abuse are listed below:

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Hoarseness
  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Reduced appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Changes in sex drive

Dangerous long-term Adderall side effects include:

  • Limb weakness or numbness
  • Dizziness
  • Slowed or difficult speech
  • Chest pain
  • Hives or rashes
  • Skin blistering or peeling
  • Vision changes
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Mania
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures

Dealing with Adderall Addicts

If someone you love has an Adderall addiction, an understanding mindset will go a long way in getting on the road to recovery with addiction treatment services. Remember, someone who is abusing drugs is struggling with a number of things, such as racing thoughts, insomnia, extreme mood swings, and severe depression.

Consultation with a professional therapist is advisable. This can make the confrontation or intervention easier. Professionals are trained to bring up the subject gently and use the most effective language. In addition, they can provide guidance on coping with the stress of living with an addict.

When approaching a loved one with an addiction, it’s important to express support. It might be a good idea to remind them of the activities and hobbies they used to enjoy and the lifestyle they can reclaim. Listen to the person and understand their fears and reservations about continuing life without Adderall. Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts for family members or friends of Adderall addicts:


  • Maintain balance and integrity (don’t try it out to see for yourself)
  • Find a rehab center and ask questions to see if the recovery program is a good fit
  • Stand by the person even when the going gets tough
  • Insist on rehab
  • If you decide to stage an intervention, do it with love and care


  • Don’t expect the person to agree to rehab immediately
  • Don’t expect immediate results
  • Avoid 30-day programs – the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends programs of three months or longer
  • Don’t allow the addict to abuse you either mentally or physically
  • Don’t assume rehab will solve all the problems – your loved one will need love, guidance, and support before, during, and after rehab

Amphetamine Addiction Treatment: How Long Does Adderall Withdrawal Last?

A number of factors affect how long Adderall remains in the system, including age, metabolism, dosage, and frequency of intake. The drug can be detected in the urine, blood, saliva, and hair. Addiction to this medication can disrupt an individual’s life, relationships, career, and happiness. Yet, stopping the drug abruptly can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms which can last anywhere from weeks to months. In addition to physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, poor appetite, fatigue, and drowsiness, the addict suffers psychological symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings.

The first obstacle to recovery from addiction is recognizing the problem and making a decision to seek treatment. The next step is detoxing from Adderall safely. Quitting the drug cold turkey can be associated with severe and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Proper treatment at one of the many reputed drug rehabilitation centers in the country is advisable. This can be accomplished at either an inpatient drug rehab or through an outpatient substance abuse program. Dependency to drugs is treated through detox, stabilization, inpatient therapy, outpatient followup, and aftercare.

The first couple of weeks of rehab are the hardest. The recovering addict has to confront many problems they have been dealing with before entering the recovery program. It is important to remember that this can be overwhelming. And there are many temptations that can derail the recovery.

It will likely be uncomfortable to face the people who were hurt during active drug use. Try to be supportive and grateful for the recovery. Withholding trust and faith can often make the recovering addict feel worse. After the first few challenging weeks, life will slowly start to return to normal. But to avoid relapses, continuous motivation and support are the keys.

Find the Help You Need

If you or someone you love is in need of Adderall study drug rehabilitation, call our free helpline (888)-459-5511 for more information on available treatments and resources. Advisors are available to answer your questions, give you more information on amphetamine addiction, and guide you towards the most affordable and effective Adderall rehab. Calls are always confidential and secure.


Adderall Addiction: Understanding and Overcoming Amphetamine Abuse

Rate this article