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Signs of Adderall Abuse: Symptoms of Stimulant Addiction

signs of adderall addiction

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Scientists classify Adderall as a central nervous system stimulant – a combination of four types of amphetamine which puts the drug in the same category as cocaine with similar highly addictive effects. Such amphetamine based drugs (whether prescribed or sourced illegally) are widely known to be abused to enhance sports, academic, and professional performance.

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Table of Contents

Why Does Adderall Addiction Occur?

Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine: a potent stimulant that increases the levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the human brain – three key neurotransmitters associated with feelings of pleasure, motivation, and attentiveness. They improve concentration and control sleep and appetite. An Adderall high feels like increased confidence, concentration, and energy, and because of these chemically induced euphoric effects, it can be easy to develop an addiction to CNS stimulants.
In the United States, the DEA has classified Adderall as a schedule II controlled substance, putting it in the same category as cocaine, methadone, and OxyContin. Drugs in this category carry high risk of physical and psychological addiction. For this reason, Adderall can only be legally obtained with a physician’s prescription and repeat-prescriptions must be arranged directly between the doctor’s practice and pharmacy.
According to SAMHSA, each year about 137,000 full-time college students abuse prescription stimulants (an average of 400 new users per day). During ‘finals week’ (end-of-year exams), the price of a 30 mg Adderall tablet on the street market can go up to as much as $10 per pill. In addition, some people abuse Adderall for anxiety because it enhances sociability, confidence, and energy levels.
It can be difficult to recognize Adderall abuse symptoms because users do not usually resemble the stereotypical ‘drug user’. Often, individuals with an amphetamine addiction are young professionals, high achievers, and students who use the medication to enhance focus and concentration. The easiest way to recognize an addict is to request an Adderall urine test. However, this is not always possible as the person can reject to pass one.
If an addiction does develop, stopping Adderall and functioning without a ‘hit’ or ‘high’, can become a day-to-day challenge. Dependency can often go unnoticed by those in contact with a person using (especially in the early stages) because a seemingly driven and ambitious person is not necessarily associated with someone who has a drug addiction. Conversely, often the Adderall user themselves will be unaware of their dependency. However, possible early-signs and symptoms of addiction could be searching for how to get an Adderall prescription online.

What are the Signs of Adderall Addiction?

What are the signs someone is on Adderall? Can one overdose on Adderall? How to know if someone has amphetamine addiction?
There are certain tell-tale signs and symptoms of stimulant addiction:

  • Social withdrawalaggressive woman screaming
  • Unusual excitability
  • Over talkativeness
  • Aggression
  • Secretive behavior
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Unexplained financial troubles

If someone has a prescription for Adderall, they can still develop an addiction to the medicine by:

  • Taking it at a higher dose than prescribed
  • Taking it more often than prescribed
  • Taking it through unapproved methods such as snorting
  • Taking it for reasons other than a medical need
  • Taking someone else’s medicine
  • Buying it from an illicit source
  • Taking it for fun

How to Approach a Person with Adderall Dependence Symptoms?

Helping someone with symptoms of addiction to stimulant medications requires an understanding and non-judgmental mindset. The first signs a person might be regularly using Adderall are changes in behavior such as becoming increasingly paranoid, violent, or secretive. The user might also be experiencing racing thoughts, insomnia, extreme mood swings and maybe even severe depression whilst trying to keep up academic or work performance.
It’s a good idea to involve a professional therapist in any confrontation or intervention with a loved one. Professionals are trained to bring up the subject gently. They know the best language to use without sounding accusatory or judgmental. They can also guide family and friends on how to cope with the stress of living with an addict.
People with signs of Adderall addiction are often high achievers and driven to do well academically or professionally. They begin misusing these medications to improve focus and performance. When approaching someone who shows signs and symptoms of addiction, it’s important to express support and understanding and listen to their fears and reservations about coping with life without the drug. Here are some tips to help a person with signs of addiction:

  • Maintain balance and integrity (don’t get convinced to try out the drug with the addict) concerned woman talks to a drug addicted female friend
  • Help the person find the best rehab facility for addiction treatment
  • Stand by them even when the going gets rough
  • Insist on professional help at an accredited rehab center
  • Intervention should be done with love and care


  • Don’t expect the person to admit there’s a problem immediately
  • Don’t expect immediate results from rehab (it can take anywhere from 30 days to several months)
  • Don’t assume rehab will resolve all problems

I Think I’m Addicted to Adderall – What Should I Do?

Treating alcohol and drug addiction is a complicated process and must be done under the supervision of healthcare professionals. Quitting Adderall cold turkey is not a good idea. Withdrawal from the medication requires a slow taper to ensure it is safe and comfortable. The Adderall withdrawal timeline depends on the formulation of the drug. The regular formulation of the medicine is usually cleared out from a person’s system in about six hours. The extended-release formulation can take 10-12 hours to wear off.
When the Adderall addiction signs and symptoms are obvious, it’s important to seek care at a reliable treatment center. A number of outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation facilities offer recovery programs for people with addiction to Adderall.

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Chinwe Okudo
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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