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The Dangers Of Using Adderall Intravenously (IV)

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

Medically reviewed by

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

January 23, 2019

Injecting any substance, especially a stimulant like Adderall, is very dangerous and can lead to damaging health effects. Sharing needles, using unsanitized equipment, and dissolving Adderall tablets in liquid contributes to the many risks and dangers of intravenous use. If a person is injecting Adderall or considering injecting Adderall, they will likely benefit from addiction treatment.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a brand name for a medication consisting of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Although Adderall is effective in treating attention hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sleep disorders like narcolepsy, the drug is widely abused because of its stimulant-like effects.

When taken as directed, Adderall is unlikely to lead to addiction. But, taking a larger dose, taking it more often, or taking it for prolonged periods of time increases the habit-forming effects of the drug. Taking too much Adderall can result in:

  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • hyperactivity
  • irritability
  • personality changes
  • unusual behavior

Long-term Adderall abuse will likely mean the person needs more and more of it to manage symptoms and achieve the desired effects. This can lead a person to take the drug in risky ways, like dissolving it in liquid and injecting it into their veins (intravenous administration). While the high can be more intense and quicker to onset, it’s almost certain to do some damage.

The Dangers Of Injecting Adderall

If a person has injected Adderall, they’re likely suffering from a substance use disorder (SUD), which requires treatment to help manage addiction. Injecting substances can also have negative health consequences and cause permanent damage. The dangers of using Adderall intravenously include infections, heart problems, risk of HIV, and overdose and death.


Adderall tablets and capsules are made with fillers and binders that can contaminate and harm a person’s veins. There are likely tons of contaminants in a homemade solution of Adderall and water, and injecting this solution into the veins can be harmful and cause damage.

Non-sterile equipment can also increase the risk of infection, especially to the skin. Abscesses, or a collection of pus within the tissue of the body, are common among people who inject drugs. Using clean needles can help avoid infection, but this does not prevent the risk of injecting contaminants within Adderall tablets or capsules.

Heart Problems

Repeated use of Adderall intravenously can cause a condition called endocarditis, which is inflammation of the interior lining of the heart. Injecting stimulants like Adderall into the veins tend to drain into the right-side of the heart, which can cause heart valves on that side to swell and inflame. Without treatment, this condition may cause serious health complications and can be life-threatening.

Injecting Adderall can also disrupt the circulatory process of blood flow throughout the body. This can cause irregular heartbeat, heart attack, unusually high or low blood pressure, and overall circulation failure.

Risk Of HIV And Other Diseases

Sharing needles to inject Adderall can increase the risk of contracting HIV or AIDS. Any speck of blood can carry HIV, which can last on a needle for up to 42 days. While HIV transmission is rare, the risk of spreading or catching diseases, like hepatitis, increases in environments where people routinely use IVs to abuse drugs.

Adderall abuse can also lead to risky behaviors, like having unprotected sex. Mania, or a frenzied or abnormally excited mood, may occur when people use Adderall intravenously. When high on Adderall, a person may be more likely to have sex without a condom or other protection and risk the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Overdose And Death

Due to the high intensity and quick onset of effects, it can be easy to lose track of how much was taken. People who inject Adderall are more likely to overdose than those who take it orally or as directed. Symptoms of Adderall overdose can include:

  • aggressive behavior
  • coma
  • fainting
  • fever
  • feelings of panic
  • hallucination (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
  • muscle weakness and pain
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness
  • seizures
  • uncontrollable shaking
  • vomiting

Any signs of an overdose should be treated as a medical emergency, and 9-1-1 should be contacted immediately. If left untreated, Adderall overdose can result in death. Young people and those with heart conditions are at greater risk of suffering a fatal overdose.

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Adderall Addiction And Withdrawal

Stimulants are powerful substances that can lead to tolerance and dependence. A substance use disorder (SUD) occurs when a person continues to use Adderall, despite harmful consequences to their health and life. Using Adderall intravenously is a major sign the person suffers from addiction and may need help. But, abruptly stopping use of Adderall can result in uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms of Adderall withdrawal can include:

  • extreme tiredness, but trouble sleeping
  • fatigue
  • severe depression

When symptoms of stimulant withdrawal are severe, a person can enter a medically supervised detox program. These programs allow staff to administer medications to alleviate symptoms, provide safety and support during the worst of withdrawal, and help prepare a person for addiction treatment.

Treatment For Adderall Abuse And Addiction

Treatment for prescription stimulant addiction is best served by behavioral therapy, the most common form of addiction treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational incentives are two types of therapies that can be effective for addressing Adderall addiction. These therapies work to change behavior related to drug use, teach how to manage stress, and provide positive rewards for staying drug-free.

While there is no best treatment for everyone, inpatient rehab programs can be effective for addressing all issues related to addiction. Injecting Adderall can indicate a person struggles with substance abuse, and inpatient rehab provides around-the-clock care, support, and supervision to ensure the person is motivated and engaged in treatment.

Contact us today for more information on how to treat Adderall abuse and addiction.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Drug Facts: Prescription Stimulants

UCLA: Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior - Potential Complications of IV Drug Use

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Injection Drug Use and HIV Risk

U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine

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