Substance Use

Adderall Abuse: Recognizing the Symptoms of Addiction

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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Abuse?

Adderall is a prescription medication often used to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. It is a stimulant drug, which means for those without a medical need it can have effects similar to those seen with illicit drugs. Because of this, it has a strong association with drug abuse. Misusing Adderall can be incredibly dangerous and even fatal.

Although you can buy Adderall on the streets, many users with Adderall addiction have prescriptions for legitimate use. Most Adderall misusers are also young people in the 18-25 age bracket.

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Legitimate Adderall Use

The DEA classifies Adderall as a Schedule II substance. However, for those that need it for medical purposes, it can be very helpful. Many young people with an ADHD diagnosis rely on Adderall to help them focus in school and with everyday tasks.

Although it is an amphetamine that can cause a “high” when used recreationally, for those with ADHD it can have an opposite effect and allow them to think more clearly. 

Adderall Abuse 

Many people who take Adderall recreationally often do so with “good” intentions. For example, a substantial percentage of people who abuse Adderall do so because they believe it will help them study. However, for those without ADHD, the effect on concentration and focus is minimal and therefore futile.

This is something that many users don’t realize, with some studies suggesting that more than half of recreational users use Adderall in an attempt to aid with concentration and alertness.

Methods of Use

Although Adderall is a prescription drug in pill form, users ingest it in different ways. Some people crush the pills and snort them, while others inject the drug. Long-term recreational use can lead to the body building a tolerance to Adderall, which is where the risk of addiction increases.

Dependence vs. Addiction

Adderall dependency is a normal physical response to continued use. Even those with a prescription will likely develop a dependency over time. However, developing a psychological dependence is where issues can occur. If a user takes Adderall to get “high,” then developing a psychological dependence leading to addiction is likely. This would not be the case for an individual taking Adderall as ADHD medication.

Although their body will probably become dependent on the drug, this shouldn’t be a psychological dependence. Once a user crosses this line, an addiction that relates to specific behaviors and continued use to experience stimulating effects of “highs” is likely. An addict will be unable to cope without Adderall and will go to extreme measures to get it.

A legitimate user may require medical help to stop using Adderall, but they won’t obsess over it or experience cravings for it as an addict would. It is important to recognize whether you have an addiction or a physical dependence. They are vastly different, and when it comes to stopping the use of Adderall, the approach to this will also be very different.

Adderall Tolerance and Addiction

To understand how addiction occurs, it’s important to understand tolerance. As someone develops a tolerance to a substance, they often need to take more of it to feel the effects. Not everyone who abuses Adderall will develop an addiction. Addiction diagnosis often requires an individual to display several common symptoms over a certain amount of time.

Diagnosis usually means a user displays two or more of the below symptoms over a 12-month period:

  • Experiences cravings for Adderall.
  • Gives up on hobbies or aspirations or cannot fulfill social duties due to Adderall use.
  • Often uses more Adderall than intended.
  • Has tried to cut down or quit using Adderall before with no success.
  • Uses Adderall even after realizing it is having a negative impact on their life.
  • Drives under the influence of Adderall or uses it in other situations that may be hazardous.
  • Struggles at school or work because of their Adderall use.
  • Builds a tolerance to Adderall, meaning they need to use a larger amount to feel the effects.
  • Spends most of their time taking Adderall, sourcing it, or recovering from its use.
  • Experiences withdrawal symptoms relating to Adderall.

If you’re worried you are suffering from an Adderall addiction, call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439.

Overdosing on Adderall

Since Adderall is a prescription drug, the dosage that medical professionals prescribe to users is given careful consideration. Many people undergo a medical assessment before they receive a prescription for Adderall. This is to ensure that their body is in a healthy state, to minimize risks and avoid the chance of overdose.

When someone takes Adderall recreationally, the dosage is not given the same consideration and can lead to them taking more of the drug than their body can handle. This can lead to overdosing or other medical complications. Overdosing on Adderall can be fatal, so it’s important to know overdose signs to look out for.

Someone overdosing on Adderall may display the following symptoms:

Dilated pupils – Pupils that appear much larger than normal.

Fast breathing – Breathing much more rapidly than usual.

Hallucinations – Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. For example, hearing voices or seeing people.

Paranoia – Intense worry that something bad may happen or having concerns about trusting people.

Panic attacks – Often caused by extreme anxiety, the individual may enter a severe state of panic and be unable to control their breathing and thoughts.

Aggression – Someone experiencing an overdose may become aggressive, even if they are not normally. This may take the form of physical or verbal aggression because of agitation.

Inability to keep still – The person may experience restlessness or tremors involuntarily. They may not be able to stop walking around or moving.

Loss of control over reflexes – They may lose control over their arms, struggle to walk properly, or keep their head up straight.

Seizures – In some cases, a person suffering from an Adderall overdose may have seizures, which can lead to lifelong damage.

An Adderall overdose can be fatal, so the person must receive medical attention immediately.

Side Effects of Adderall Abuse

Taking Adderall even under the supervision of a medical professional can lead to side effects, and Adderall abuse can increase your chances of experiencing them. Some common effects are:

Sleep problems – You may struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep at night.

A dry sensation in the mouth – You may feel an intense need to drink frequently.

Stomach problems – It can be difficult to pass stools, even if you feel you need to, and you may get stomachaches because of this. You may also experience the opposite effect and have diarrhea.

Teeth grinding – You may grind your top and bottom teeth involuntarily.

Appetite changes – You have no desire to eat or you feel hungry at strange times.

Anxiety – Adderall can make you feel nervous, anxious, or on edge.

Weight changes – Weight loss is a side effect that you may experience, even if you have not made efforts to lose weight.

The above side effects are fairly mild. However, there are some more serious side effects that Adderall can cause. The risk of having a heart attack or stroke can increase if the individual has any preexisting heart conditions. This is why a medical assessment is usually a requirement before receiving a prescription for Adderall. Other side effects that can be serious are:

Speech issues – You may find it difficult to speak, and your speech may sound sluggish to others.

Twitches – Adderall can cause involuntary twitches in the body or face. Users can also experience verbal tics.

Depression – Adderall can lead to depression, a feeling of worthlessness, a bad mood, or the inability to find pleasure in things.

Difficulty breathing – Your breathing may become faster or slower than usual.

Difficulty swallowing – Some Adderall users can find it difficult to swallow food or drink as a side effect.

Numbness – You may experience numbness or burning sensations in the feet or hands.

Seizures – Some people have seizures.

Psychosis – Some users experience a state of psychosis because of Adderall use.

Facial swelling – Areas of the face, the eyes, the tongue, and the throat can become swollen.

Treatment for Those with Adderall Abuse Disorders

All addictions are viewed as chronic diseases. Addiction means the uncontrollable desire to consume a substance regardless of the harmful impact it has on you. This applies to addictions to any substances, not just Adderall.

It can be really difficult to recover from an addiction to Adderall or any other stimulant drug, and recovery often requires specialist treatment. For those who believe they have an Adderall addiction, there are many treatment options available.

The first step of a recovery program is to detox from the drug. This means removing all traces of Adderall from your body. Medically assisted detox is a good idea for someone suffering from an Adderall addiction, as detoxing at home can lead to many complications. During a detox with the assistance of medical professionals, you’ll stay in a treatment center or hospital where professionals can monitor you.

Once your body completes the detox process, you can move on to the next stage of treatment. This is usually rehabilitation through a care program that combines therapy methods designed to tackle the psychological impact of your addiction.

Addiction isn’t just a physical desire to take a substance — it’s much more complex than that. The learned behavior and habits that relate to your addiction won’t go away with a detox alone. You need to reframe your way of thinking through therapy and put coping mechanisms in place to increase your chance of staying clean.

Rehabilitation is often performed through inpatient or outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment means receiving treatment while staying at a treatment center.

Outpatient care usually refers to treatment that is given to the patient without a residential stay. Outpatient care often involves the same principles but means you are not monitored as closely and will not have as much support as an inpatient. Some programs combine inpatient and outpatient care.


Therapy is very important when it comes to rehabilitation. Trained therapists provide a range of therapies to addicts to support them through recovery from their addiction. These include group and one-on-one therapy sessions, which are both beneficial depending on your needs. The type of therapy that is often most beneficial to addicts is behavioral therapy.

This focuses on learned behaviors and finding ways to diminish them from the addict’s life. Common behavioral therapies that addict treatment therapists often use are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM).

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) CBT is very useful for those engaging in Adderall abuse. It helps them to recognize the behaviors that led to them using Adderall recreationally. Once the behaviors are identified, a therapist can suggest ways to change these behaviors and work closely with you to ensure you’re making progress. CBT can be very eye-opening for addicts and help them pinpoint areas of their life that contribute to their addiction and need to be changed.

Contingency Management (CM) This form of therapy works on a model of reward. This is often useful for addicts, as the brain views substances as a reward when you have an addiction. It essentially replaces this and instead focuses on providing rewards such as vouchers or cash for meeting goals to abstain from Adderall use.


Aftercare is a crucial part of rehabilitation that many people disregard. Once you have detoxed and been through a rehabilitation program, ongoing treatment can prevent relapses. Aftercare can mean attending support groups with other people in the same situation as you. Often, communicating with others in recovery can make you feel as if you’re not alone on your journey.

You may also benefit from individual therapy sessions with addiction professionals. These can be very helpful and allow you to talk to someone that understands the ins and outs of addiction.

Everyone has different needs. Sometimes family therapy is a good idea, depending on your family relationship and the effect your addiction has on them. Learning about addiction can also be hugely beneficial to your recovery and help you understand and prepare for things that you may experience.

Is Adderall Affecting Your Life?

If you think Adderall is influencing your quality of life, then it’s time to take action. Addiction is a horrible disease that makes you feel powerless over a substance. If you are spending more of your money or time on Adderall than anything else, it’s time to get help.

Although you may be reluctant to admit that you have an addiction, there is no shame in it. People from all backgrounds can develop addictions to a range of substances. Unfortunately, addictions don’t go away on their own. Usually, addiction will get worse without intervention.

If you’re concerned for yourself or a loved one, call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439

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(855) 430-9439
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