The major signs of an Adderall addiction you should know about

blurred image of doctor holding close up image of medicine bottles

Recent studies show that Adderall is one of the most prevalent drugs abused in the United States.

Moreover, Adderall abuse is widespread among certain people, such as college or university students, since many believe that the drug helps them concentrate and study better.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant medication that usually gets prescribed to people with symptoms of narcolepsy or ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder).

Such a drug is profoundly valuable for treating the symptoms of conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy. It works by expanding neurotransmitter activity in the brain, such as norepinephrine and dopamine.

The activation of “feel good” brain chemicals

Many people recognize dopamine as the “happy” or “feel-good” chemical.

Broadly, dopamine is a brain chemical that gets released whenever you do something you enjoy or get pleasure out of – examples may include writing, painting, hanging out with friends, or simply eating your favorite food.


Prescription drug addiction

Adderall is a prescription drug. 

Therefore, it should only get prescribed by a medical professional or a doctor.

Because Adderall has a significantly high potential to be abused, it has gotten classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a schedule II controlled substance. 

Illegal possession

Research shows that people who obtain Adderall illegally are at higher risk of getting addicted to the drug than those prescribed Adderall by a doctor.

Essentially, Adderall addiction takes a while to develop, and if uncontrolled, a person may become addicted without proper guidance from a medical professional.

Signs and risk factors

There are various risk factors associated with Adderall addiction. 

However, an addiction to Adderall starts with taking small prescriptions to manage specific activities or tasks.

Adderall abuse is higher among certain people, such as university or college students.

However, Adderall abuse also affects those with eating disorders, young people in stressful or demanding jobs, and athletes.

People who take Adderall without a prescription or use their prescribed medication incorrectly are at significant risk of addiction.

Adderall addiction symptoms

The common symptoms of Adderall addiction include:

  • Being unable to cope or function without the drug
  • Increasing the drug dosage or taking larger quantities to get high – many people who abuse Adderall build a tolerance to the drug over time where they no longer feel the effects when taking small doses.
  • Grogginess, brain fog or feeling sluggish when not taking the drug
  • Continuing to consume Adderall despite the adverse effects on your body and mind.
  • Spending an increased amount of time thinking about the drug or how to obtain it, often through illegal means.

Adverse effects of Adderall abuse

The risk of a lethal overdose is one of the most prevalent effects of Adderall abuse.

When individuals abuse Adderall in the long-term, they put themselves at risk of developing severe physical and mental health problems, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Angry or aggressive behavior
  • Migraines
  • Trouble sleeping, such as insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Hallucinations
  • Profound weight loss
  • Exhaustion or fatigue
  • Body tremors
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation or diarrhea

Additional side – effects

There are more severe side – effects associated with Adderall abuse. They include:

  • Feeling dizzy, faint, or experiencing vision changes.
  • Fast heart rate or pounding heart
  • Slowed speech
  • Fever, rash, or itching
  • Numbness in arms or legs
  • Difficulty breathing, swallowing, or hoarseness 
  • Seizures and chest pain
adderrall addiction depressed

The difference between an Adderall addiction and Adderall dependency

Similar to most drugs, people often confuse Adderall addiction with Adderall dependency.
However, there are apparent differences between addiction and dependency that apply to almost all substances.

Adderall addiction versus dependence

Adderall dependency is prevalent in those prescribed the drug by their doctor or healthcare provider.

Someone with an Adderall dependency doesn’t usually go against their doctor’s recommendation, for example, taking more significant quantities of the drug to get high.

Typically, people with an Adderall dependency do not abuse the substance – however, developing a dependence on Adderall is common, especially when the prescribed medication gets taken in the long term.

The key differences

An individual with an addiction requires addiction treatment, either inpatient or outpatient, in a drug rehabilitation facility. 

In contrast, someone with a dependency will need to get weaned off a particular medication or drug.

Furthermore, a person suffering from substance addiction will often go to great lengths to obtain their substance of choice.

Long-term side-effects of Adderall abuse

Like any substance, trying to stop or quit on your own could induce withdrawal symptoms that can mimic the effects of abusing Adderall or any other drug you might be taking.

In severe cases of Adderall abuse, you may cause damage to your heart or experience severe delusions.

Adderrall Addiction

Speaking to a professional

If you suspect that you or someone close to you may have an addiction to Adderall, you must speak to your doctor or a mental health professional who can advise you on the best course of action.

You must not delay seeking help or treatment as this will only worsen the addiction problem.

Treatment options

The statistics on Adderall abuse are shocking, with over 16 million US citizens over the age of eighteen taking prescription drugs like Adderall.

While getting prescribed medication drugs to help with a specific medical condition is often harmless, addictions or dependencies on such drugs can occur relatively quickly.

Prescribed medications like Adderall can be just as dangerous as illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin if such drugs are abused or taken in the wrong way.

Treatment programs

Fortunately, there are various treatment options for people suffering from Adderall addiction or other forms of substance abuse.

Like other treatment programs, treating someone with an Adderall addiction involves re-learning how to function and live without the drug.

Common treatments for Adderall addiction

Most treatment interventions for Adderall addiction include:

  • Enrolling in a supervised rehab or detoxification program
  • Managing withdrawal symptoms
  • Undergoing a thorough medical assessment and evaluation
  • Taking part in psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy or behavioral therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Developing an aftercare plan after treatment; may involve psychotherapy, counseling or ongoing individual and group therapy.


Research analyst Jacquelyn Cafasso says that the longer someone misuses Adderall, the stronger the addiction can become.

Cafasso explains that “withdrawal symptoms can make it extremely challenging for a person to quit on their own, but quitting is possible with help and support” (Healthline, Adderall Addiction: What you should know, Jacquelyn Cafasso, February 2019).

Preventing Adderall addiction

According to Cafasso, the best way to avoid Adderall addiction is to follow your doctor’s instructions.

“Don’t take a larger dose, increase the frequency, or take the drug for a longer period” (Healthline, Adderall Addiction: What you should know, Jacquelyn Cafasso, February 2019).

When taking prescription medicines like Adderall, you must be very careful to follow the advice and instructions on the label. 

If you are unsure about how to take your medication, what it does, and its effects, you must speak to your doctor for further advice.

Having a clear understanding of any prescription medications and following the instructions carefully can prevent addiction and dependency.

Getting in touch

At Tikvah Lake Recovery, we specialize in treating various addictions and mental health disorders.

Our team are always on hand to help and are specialists in treating Adderall addiction and other substance use disorders.

To find out more about our treatment programs, please contact a team member today who will advise you further. 

David Hurst - Tikvah Lake Recovery

About David Hurst

David Hurst has four books published on mental health recovery, including 12 Steps To 1 Hero, The Anxiety Conversation and Words To Change Your Life. He has written for national newspapers and magazines around the world for 30 years including The Guardian, Psychologies, GQ, Esquire, Marie Claire and The Times. He has been in successful continual recovery since January 2002.

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