What Exactly is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medication composed of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. When combined, these drugs are used to be a central nervous system stimulant. Adderall is a prescribed stimulant typically used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as narcolepsy. Considered to be a cognitive-enhancing drug, Adderall can help with motivation, concentration, and attention for those who use it properly.

Adderall Addiction Explained

Although chemically similar to methamphetamines, Adderall is legal when prescribed by doctors. However, Adderall is commonly used illegally without a prescription. Because Adderall works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system, users may experience euphoria, which creates a rewarding effect in the brain.

Known as a “study drug”, Adderall is often used by many college-aged students to study for exams and stay awake for long periods of time. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 6.4 percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 have used Adderall recreationally.

Those with a prescription to the medication will oftentimes misuse the drug by taking more than prescribed. Additionally, those without prescriptions may look to buy the drug from friends or family members who have a prescription or even on the streets. Street names for Adderall include addies, beans, black beauties, speed, and uppers.

Adderall is highly addictive when not taken as prescribed. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified Adderall as a Schedule II drug due to its high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependency.

The Risks of Abusing Adderall

Those who misuse Adderall may build a quick tolerance for the drug, requiring a higher dosage than before. Therefore, recreational Adderall users are more susceptible to addiction to the drug.

Mixing Adderall with alcohol presents a serious risk and has potentially fatal consequences. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant while Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant. When taken in conjunction, these two substances may cause alcohol poisoning, coma, heart attack, or even a life-threatening overdose.

Adderall addiction is especially dangerous in individuals who have pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, heart defect, or high blood pressure, as Adderall is known to increase blood pressure and heart rate. Adderall users who experience chest pain, dizziness, or other heart problems should seek medical care immediately.

Overdose on Adderall is unlikely but still possible, especially combined with other substances. The drug can have a negative interaction with blood pressure medications, antidepressants, cold or allergy medication, antacids, and a multitude of other medications. Signs of an Adderall overdose may include vomiting, rapid breathing, stomach pains, tremors, and hallucinations.

Signs of Adderall Addiction

Extended misuse of Adderall can have severe short and long-term effects on the brain, body, and personality. There are specific signs to look for when someone may be misusing Adderall.

Signs and symptoms of Adderall addiction include:


  • Headaches
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood changes including irritability
  • Weight loss


  • Seizures
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pains
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Weakness in arms and legs

Additional signs of Adderall addiction may include the inability to do work without Adderall, needing a larger dose to feel the drug’s effects, or neglecting responsibilities to get high.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who misuse Adderall for prolonged periods may become physically dependent on the drug. If someone were to abruptly stop taking the drug, they can potentially suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from stimulants causes the body’s dopamine levels to drop, and the body and brain must relearn to function normally without the drug.

Symptoms of withdrawal from Adderall can include violent mood swings, depression or irritability, paranoia, anxiety, and severe drowsiness. The first steps of withdrawal include the inability to focus or function normally. Withdrawal from Adderall is rarely dangerous on its own but may prompt suicidal thoughts.

The duration of withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person. Some may experience symptoms for a few days while others may experience symptoms for several weeks. Factors that influence the amount of time it takes to withdrawal from Adderall include dosage, frequency, and duration of use. Those who took larger doses more frequently can expect withdrawal symptoms to last longer.