Adderall Abuse Fact Sheet

Adderall is a commonly-prescribed drug for ADHD. However, it can lead to addiction. 

On this fact sheet, you’ll learn what Adderall is, its side effects, how often you should take it, how much to take, and how to detox from it. You’ll also learn about what to do if you or someone you know has an addiction to it.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a type of amphetamine. Like many other mental health drugs, it changes the balance of chemicals in the brain, altering how it operates. Patients who take it often report being better able to focus on activities, learn new skills and pay attention to speakers. 

What do people use it for?

Physicians prescribe Adderall for either ADHD or narcolepsy. The medication contains both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine which stimulate parts of the central nervous system responsible for impulse control and hyperactivity.

Warnings before taking

Because Adderall contains amphetamines, patients may find it habit-forming if they take it for too long. Those with a history of drug or alcohol abuse should tell their doctor first before starting a course of the drug.

Adderall may lead to new or worsening thoughts of psychosis. Patients at the highest risk are those with a history of anxiety or depression, or related mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder.

The drug can sometimes cause circulatory problems. Patients may report discoloration of fingers and toes, numbness in certain parts of the body, and pain. 

Patients should not use Adderall if they have taken any MAO inhibitors in the previous 14 days. Drugs in this class that interact with Adderall include tranylcypromine, selegiline, rasagiline, phenelzine, linezolid, and isocarboxazid. Patients who’ve had methylene blue injections should also avoid Adderall. 

Side effects of Adderall

Adderall’s side effects include: 

  • Vomiting 
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia and trouble sleeping
  • Fever
  • Excessive nervousness
  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

Adderall is a potentially dangerous drug. However, when doctors prescribe it, they only do so after weighing up the costs and benefits. In some cases, they may determine that it is better for the patient to go on the drug than not to. The majority of people who take Adderall do not experience any serious side effects from the drug. 

Because Adderall can interfere with the function of the circulatory system (the heart and blood vessels), you should tell your doctor immediately if you: 

  • Have coldness or numbness in your fingers and toes
  • Notice skin-color changes (such as looking “blue in the face”)
  • Experience any chest pain
  • Have shortness of breath
  • Notice swelling of the ankles and feet
  • Experience blurred vision
  • Have weakness on one side of the body
  • Feel a sudden and severe headache
  • Notice your heart is beating faster or pounding more intensely
  • Have a seizure

You should also inform your physician if you:

  • Engage in uncontrolled and involuntary movements
  • Can’t stop chewing or grinding your teeth
  • Have sudden outbursts of words or sounds
  • Notice a change in your sexual desire or ability
  • Experience abnormal thoughts of suicide
  • Have a low mood or depression that started after going on the drug
  • Notice behavior changes, such as irritability or agitation
  • Have more frequent and prolonged erections
  • Have diarrhea
  • Experience hallucinations

While serious allergic reactions to Adderall are rare, they can happen. Patients with allergies to the drug may have rash, trouble breathing, dizziness, swelling and itching on the tongue, throat and face. Again, if you notice any of these, call for emergency medical assistance immediately.

How Adderall is taken

Patients take Adderall by the mouth, both with and without food, one to three times per day. Most take the first dose in the morning and then take any remaining doses spread four to six hours apart. Physicians advise against taking Adderall in the evening because it can cause insomnia. They also recommend that patients take Adderall at the same time every day, once they get into a routine.

The amount of Adderall patients take depends on their condition and response to treatment. Doctors may start patients on a low dose and then wait and see how they get on with it. They will then adjust the dose, based on patient feedback. 

Before taking Adderall, patients should consult the medication guide or talk to their pharmacist. Taking more than the recommended dose or continuing use for too long can lead to dependency. 

Periodically, doctors may decide to interrupt the medication for a short time to see whether the patient still needs it. Suddenly stopping Adderall, however, can lead to withdrawal symptoms, such as changes in mood, extreme tiredness, and sleep disturbances.

**This post is not to be used as medical advice. Please consult with your physician before taking/stopping any prescription.** 

Overdose and Adderall

Adderall overdose typically results in trouble breathing and passing out. It can also cause: 

  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations 
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Panic
  • Confusion
  • Stomach upset

Treatment typically involves placing the person in a quiet, cool room, administering medications, such as dopamine, and using stomach pumping to remove any remaining drug from the digestive tract. Patients who suspect overdose should seek medical attention immediately. 

Usual dosages of Adderall

Doctors typically prescribe 5 mg once or twice per day initially, and then raise the daily dose by 5 mg per day until it has the desired effects. The maximum dosage is 40 mg per day. Dosages may differ depending on the diagnosis: ADHD or narcolepsy.

**This post is not to be used as medical advice. Please consult with your physician before taking/stopping any prescription.** 

Detox and Adderall

Because Adderall creates physical dependency, patients may experience withdrawal when they stop taking it. Symptoms include: 

  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tremors
  • Headaches
  • Drug cravings
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Muscle aches
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue

Detox symptoms arise one to two days after the last dose and can last for several weeks. 

Treatment at Peaks Recovery

If you or someone you know is affected by Adderall dependence or substance use disorder, get in touch with our team today and get the help you deserve.