First off, what is Adderall?

A combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, Adderall is primarily used to treat the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used for sleep disorders and certain forms of depression.

As a nervous system stimulant, Adderall works by speeding up certain bodily processes. Physicians prescribe it to patients as an oral medication, typically on a low dose to avoid possible side effects.

Adderall is addictive when taken on a dose higher than what the doctor has prescribed. By continuing the course of Adderall medication over time, patients may feel that it is not controlling their symptoms as it did when they first started taking it – and hence, they may feel the need to increase the dosage to experience its effects. While this may be one cause of an Adderall addiction, some people intentionally take large doses of this medication for the sake of feeling a euphoric high.

Six ways of Adderall abuse

Adderall abuse may occur in several ways. Some of the common ones include:

  1. Taking a higher dose of the medication than prescribed
  2. Consuming the substance through a non-approved method, such as snorting
  3. Taking the medication more frequently than prescribed
  4. Taking someone else’s medication
  5. Using the drug for reasons other than medical need, such as to stay awake and active for longer
  6. Using an illicit source to purchase the drug for recreational purposes

What are the signs and symptoms of Adderall abuse?

Adderall AbuseWhile the prescribed use of Adderall may also cause side effects, abusing the drug may lead to side effects with greater intensity and higher frequency. Some common signs and symptoms of Adderall abuse include:

  • Dry mouth
  • A headache
  • Nausea
  • Digestive problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • An upset stomach
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Hoarseness
  • Anxiety
  • Pounding or racing heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Changes in sex drive

Long-term Adderall abuse or an abuse that involves taking high doses of the substance, the symptoms can be compound and severe, resulting in dangerous effects. Some serious side effects of Adderall abuse are:

  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Slowed or difficult speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Rash or hives
  • Vision changes
  • Blisters or peeling skin
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Mania

Upon experiencing any of these symptoms, patients should seek immediate medical help.

Symptoms of Adderall overdose

Following the appropriate dosage guidelines while taking Adderall is crucial for patients to avoid side effects and fight an addiction. Overdosing on a potent stimulant like Adderall can lead to grave health consequences, including:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Hallucinations
  • A panic attack
  • Cardiac rhythm abnormalities
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vertigo
  • Uncontrollable tremor
  • Profound confusion or delirium
  • Coma

Effects of Adderall abuse

Prolonged Adderall abuse can lead to the hallmark symptoms of a substance use disorder. Taking the substance above and beyond the prescribed parameters may produce some concerning issues, including:


Developing a tolerance means needing more of the substance to produce the same effects. Typically, as patients keep increasing their Adderall dosage, it becomes impossible to recreate the initial high ever again.


Long-term Adderall abuse leads to dependency, which means that a patient’s body fails to perform and function at an optimal level without the presence of the drug in the system.


Prolonged Adderall abuse results in addiction. The patients exhibit compulsive drug-seeking behavior and continue to use the substance persistently despite being aware of the possible risks and negative health consequences that may develop.

When patients misuse the drug, they are more likely to overdose and cause harm to their bodies. As a stimulant, Adderall plays a major role in elevating the blood pressure level, increasing the heart rate, and raising the body temperature to dangerous levels. These factors combined pose a serious risk of a stroke and/or a cardiac arrest. Hence, abusing Adderall over an extended period of time can lead to serious cardiovascular issues.

Adderall Abuse Treatment

Educating yourself about the risks associated with Adderall abuse and addiction is perhaps the first line of defense and the groundwork for preventative treatment. Knowing the facts about Adderall can help prevent the need for treatment by preventing addiction.

The preventative treatment for Adderall abuse entails:

  • Educating yourself and other people around you regarding the risks of the substance
  • Keeping a tab on and monitoring use of the drug in your home
  • Keeping the medication in a safe place so that others cannot abuse it

That having said, if you or someone around you is struggling with Adderall abuse and addiction, and needs treatment, a rehab center, such as the Scottsdale Recovery Center can help.

Rehabilitation centers aim to provide detoxification services and help patients recover from physical addictions as well as psychological. Services like inpatient and outpatient treatment are often necessary for patients struggling with Adderall abuse. An excessive and prolonged exposure to the stimulant – and the resultant increase in dopamine level – can cause certain subtle brain changes that promote drug behavior to the point where reversing on one’s own becomes extremely difficult.

When the patients stop abusing Adderall, their brain experiences a strong desire for more dopamine, resulting in irresistible Adderall cravings. The patients are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, which may include disrupted sleep, low energy and fatigue, and depression. The best way to make sure you fight your addiction successfully is to join a rehab center.

The treatment options for Adderall abuse tend to vary based on the level of abuse. Inpatient, outpatient, and long-term residential programs offer a combination of individual and group therapy to treat addiction and the underlying psychological issues.


Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center® holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.