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Adderall Addiction And The Best Rehab Centers For Treatment

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

February 26, 2019

Abusing Adderall is becoming more and more common among college and high school aged students. This rise in substance abuse at a young age can have devastating outcomes that can last a lifetime.

Adderall Abuse

Adderall is a stimulant, often referred to as the “study drug”. Commonly used to treat ADHD, this medication is only available by prescription. People abuse this drug by taking it without a prescription, or at much higher doses than prescribed.

People abuse Adderall for a number of reasons, such as:

  • weight loss
  • meet deadlines or due dates for work/school
  • increased athletic performance
  • to stay awake
  • getting high

Overall, individuals may be abusing Adderall to increase mental or physical performance. However, taking Adderall for any of the aforementioned reasons is Adderall abuse, and can lead to addiction.

Adderall Addiction and Side Effects

Adderall stimulates specific areas in the brain that are responsible for alertness and the response speed to outside stimuli. However, it also stimulates areas of the brain that reduce appetite, increase wakefulness, and activate the “feel good” area of the brain, known as dopamine receptors.

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Abusing Adderall can lead to the brain becoming dependent on the drug in order to maintain dopamine levels, without it, a person can feel increased sadness, teary, depressed or even suicidal. In an attempt to keep dopamine levels high, the body may induce cravings for Adderall, and the person begins the dangerous dance with addiction.

Some of the signs of Adderall addiction are:

  • tolerance (needing more Adderall to feel the same effects)
  • inability to stop taking or cut down use of Adderall
  • continuing to take Adderall, despite dangers
  • unable to finish tasks without taking Adderall
  • being groggy or sluggish without Adderall
  • Adderall consuming several aspects of day to day life
  • having withdrawal symptoms without Adderall

Struggling with withdrawal is a major reason why people addicted to Adderall believe they cannot quit using the drug. This is why it is important to seek treatment as soon as the above symptoms begin.

Adderall Addiction Vs. Adderall Dependence: What’s The Difference?

When a person is prescribed Adderall, it is not unusual for them to become dependent on the drug. In fact, a physiological dependence is expected. A person struggling with ADHD is unable to maintain focus or stay on task, and Adderall allows them to do so.

However, there is not a psychological dependence on the drug, which means they are not using Adderall to ‘get high’. The person may need to be tapered off their Adderall, as with other medications, like antidepressants, but that does not mean they are addicted to Adderall.

Addiction to Adderall is considered psychological and physical dependence to the drug, coupled with a set of behaviors that generally occur with addiction.

Some of these behaviors include:

  • problems coping when they run out of Adderall
  • exhibiting ‘drug-seeking’ behaviors
  • running out of prescriptions early
  • withdrawal symptoms without Adderall
  • obsessing over or craving Adderall

Understanding a Prescription Amphetamine, Like Adderall

Amphetamines are a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. Adderall is a combination of two stimulants that affect dopamine and norepinephrine receptors in the brain, and is the most commonly prescribed.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), classifies Adderall as a schedule II controlled substance due to its strong potential for addiction. It is prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.

Available in 5mg to 30 mg tablets, Adderall is prescribed under consistent supervision of a physician. This means a person must maintain regularly scheduled appointments with the doctor prescribing them Adderall.

People that abuse Adderall will sometimes crush and snort the tablets so they will feel the affects more quickly. Adderall is known by several street names, including addys, uppers, pep pills, dexies, or black beauties.

Health Effects Of Abuse And Addiction

Adderall has side effects, and if a person is abusing Adderall there is a higher risk for those side effects.

Side effects of Adderall include:

  • headaches
  • irregular heartbeat
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • aggression
  • seizures
  • long lasting, painful erections
  • skin rash
  • high blood pressure
  • twitching
  • neurotoxicity (neuron and nerve damage from high dopamine levels)

In addition, people who are diagnosed with behavior disorders can exhibit additional symptoms, such as mania, delusions, hallucinations, or worsening of symptoms.

Individuals struggling with Adderall addiction or abuse are at a high risk for overdose, which can be fatal.

Signs of an overdose from Adderall can be:

  • uncontrollable shaking
  • chest pain
  • confusion
  • hyperventilation
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • fainting

People Who Abuse Adderall

Anyone can abuse Adderall. In fact, the majority of people who abuse Adderall are students and professionals. These individuals are usually abusing Adderall to increase performance in some way. This is also the reason many athletes abuse Adderall as well.

Drug Statistics

  • In 2016, over 1.5 million people were abusing stimulant drugs, like Adderall
  • ER visits due to Adderall abuse increased 156% from 2006 to 2011
  • Young adults make up 60% of people abusing Adderall


Struggling with an Adderall addiction is complicated. What began as a way to increase production, somehow takes over. Stopping on your own can be difficult, and that is why seeking treatment is important. Substance abuse facilities can assist in the journey toward sobriety, and we can help you find the right one.

Drug Enforcement Administration - Drug Scheduling

Food and Drug Administration - Adderall Prescription Insert

Johns Hopkins University - Adderall Misuse Rising Among Young Adult

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Monitoring the Future 2013 Survey Results: College and Adults

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