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Adderall is a prescription medication used for the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Adderall is also prescribed to treat narcolepsy, a rare chronic condition associated with excessive daytime sleepiness.

When used as prescribed, Adderall can induce positive effects, but these effects can be dangerous for those who use the medication without a supporting prescription.

The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved Adderall for the treatment of ADHD in 1996.

Today’s guide outlines the potential side effects of Adderall and its addictive properties, and also shows you how to engage with treatment for Adderall addiction (stimulant use disorder).

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What is Adderall?

Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance belonging to a class of medications called stimulants. Adderall contains two active ingredients: 

  1. Amphetamine
  2. Dextroamphetamine (popularly branded as Dexedrine) 

Most commonly prescribed to treat ADHD, Adderall is also used for the treatment of narcolepsy. 

Adderall comes in the following forms: 

  • Adderall: the immediate-release (IR) form of Adderall is an oral tablet.
  • Adderall XR: the extended-release (ER) form of Adderall is an oral capsule. 

Both Adderall and Adderall XR are also available as generic medications (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine salts). 

Adderall is considered a first-line ADHD treatment. Research indicates that both Adderall and Adderall XR can: 

  • Improve focus
  • Sharpen attention
  • Minimize impulsive behaviors 

the same study shows that up to 80% of children with ADHD who are prescribed Adderall will see an improvement in symptoms. 

When prescribed for those with narcolepsy, Adderall is believed to increase wakefulness during the day, although there is minimal research in this area. 

Is Adderall Addictive?

While Adderall, like all Schedule II substances, can be effective when used as directed, but dangerous when abused. 

The medication is so heavily prescribed that diversion for non-medical use is widespread. In 2021, doctors wrote over 41 million Adderall prescriptions in the United States. 

Many students abuse Adderall for its perceived ability to improve attention and stay awake. Since Adderall can also suppress appetite, the medication is also abused as a weight loss tool. Additionally, people abuse Adderall in combination with alcohol or drugs to induce a euphoric high. All of these forms of non-medical Adderall use can be dangerous, increasing the likelihood of addiction developing, as well as the risk of life-threatening overdose.

Stimulants like Adderall increase energy levels and concentration, while at the same time suppressing the appetite and reducing the need for sleep. 

When you ingest Adderall in any form, this boosts the activity of the following neurotransmitters or chemical messengers: 

  • Dopamine
  • Serotonin
  • Norepinephrine 

The sustained use of a stimulant like Adderall can trigger changes in the reward center of the brain due to the overexposure to dopamine caused by Adderall abuse. Beyond this, it becomes more difficult to experience pleasure that is not induced by stimulants. 

If you use Adderall long-term, physical tolerance can form. If this occurs, the effects of the medication will be diminished, potentially prompting you to take more Adderall or more frequent doses of the medication to achieve the initial effects. Continuing this abusive pattern of consumption will speed up the development of physical dependence. 

When you become dependent on a stimulant such as Adderall, you will require the medication to function normally, with intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms manifesting in its absence. You will also experience powerful cravings for Adderall. 

Dependence is not the same as addiction, but addiction often follows. Withdrawal, cravings, and tolerance are all diagnostic criteria for stimulant use disorder (Adderall addiction). 

The route of administration will impact the rate at which addiction develops. Some people crush Adderall pills and then either snort the powder or dissolve the powder into liquid for intravenous injection. This sends the medication to the brain more rapidly than swallowing the tablets and allowing them to enter the digestive tract before penetrating the bloodstream. This will increase the likelihood of a fatal overdose and also the potential for stimulant use disorder. Other genetic, social, and environmental factors also play a role in the development of substance use disorders like Adderall addiction. 

How Addictive is Adderall?

Adderall is an amphetamine and a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it carries a high potential for abuse and a strong risk of addiction. 

Not everyone who abuses Adderall will become addicted, but the sustained use of this stimulant is liable to trigger the development of: 

  • Tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Addiction – stimulant use disorder, one of ten substance use disorders recognized in DSM-5-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)

Adderall Side Effects

Stimulants like Adderall can cause the following effects: 

  • Increase core body temperature
  • Raise heart rate
  • Increase blood pressure levels 

The chronic abuse of Adderall can trigger myriad medical issues, from heart attacks and strokes to seizures. 

Using Adderall long-term, especially when use is excessive, can damage the heart and the cardiovascular system, potentially leading to the development of: 

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Irregular heart rate (tachycardia) 

In rare cases, Adderall abuse can bring about sudden cardiac death. 

Additionally, the sustained abuse of Adderall can trigger the following effects: 

  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Edginess
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Heart disease

Getting Help for Adderall Addiction

If you become addicted to Adderall, psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms will present when you discontinue use. The onset of withdrawal and the intensity of symptoms is dictated by the route of administration, the duration of abuse, the amount of Adderall taken, family history of addiction, and any co-occurring mental health disorders.

In most cases, a supervised medical detox allows for a tapered reduction in dosage. Under the guidance of your prescribing physician, you will gradually decrease your Adderall dosage over a period of a few weeks to a few months. This should alleviate the vast bulk of withdrawal symptoms.

Once you have eliminated Adderall from your system, you should engage in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. This will allow you to tackle the fiercely psychological component of stimulant use disorder.

Adderall Rehab at California Detox

Whether you have become addicted to Adderall due to prescription drug abuse, recreational Adderall abuse, or in an attempt to improve performance, we can help you reclaim your life from addiction here at our California luxury rehab in Orange County.

We appreciate that all addictions are unique. Accordingly, we provide personalized addiction treatment programs at all levels of intensity on ASAM’s continuum of care as follows:

  • Supervised medical detoxification
  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)
  • OPs (outpatient programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Virtual IOPs (remote rehab programs)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • Dual diagnosis (for addictions with co-occurring mental health disorders)

Whatever treatment intensity provides the most appropriate care for your needs and the severity of your Adderall addiction, you can access the following evidence-based interventions at California Detox in Huntington Beach, CA:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy

When you are committed to kickstarting your recovery from Adderall addiction, we’re here to help you from detox to discharge and beyond. Call 949.390.5377 today for immediate assistance.


Adderall XR has an elimination half-life of 10 hours, per its manufacturer (Shire LLC). It takes between four and five half-lives for all of a substance to be eliminated from the system.

Physicians prescribe Adderall for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. In patients with narcolepsy, Adderall decreases fatigue. When prescribed for those with ADHD, Adderall reduces impulsive behaviors and hyperactivity, while also improving attention and focus.


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