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  • According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the prescription drug Adderall is a controlled substance. The Controlled Substances Act classifies Adderall as a schedule II controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse.

    Adderall, Adderall XR, and Mydayis are the brand names for mixed amphetamine salts. These drugs include both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.

    Adderall is a prescription stimulant used to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy. This central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medication can be abused due to its euphoric effects.

    Adderall Abuse Potential

    Similar in efficacy to another stimulant drug methylphenidate (brand names Ritalin and Concerta), Adderall works by increasing the activity of the specific neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. 

    Because of the euphoric feelings, people are attracted to the drug and may abuse it.

    When taken as prescribed, this ADHD medication helps with impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). When abused, however, Adderall can cause a number of health issues.

    Effects Of Adderall Abuse

    The side effects of Adderall cover a wide range, from common to more severe. When the medication is abused, more serious side effects can take place.

    For instance, if Adderall is snorted, it can lead to a chronic runny nose, bacterial infections of the mucous membranes within the nasal cavity, and recurring nosebleeds. 

    Those who crush the pill and mix it with water to inject it into a vein may experience collapsed veins or abscesses on the skin.

    Each of these forms of stimulant abuse causes a person to experience the effects of the drug much more quickly. Because of this, those who abuse Adderall and other prescription stimulants may not realize how much of the drug is in their system.

    Common Side Effects

    Some of the common side effects of Adderall use include:

    • feelings of euphoria
    • wakefulness
    • constipation
    • anxiety
    • increased heart rate
    • dry mouth
    • changes in sex drive
    • nausea
    • weight loss
    • headache
    • nervousness

    Serious Side Effects

    Those who abuse the drug can experience a number of serious side effects as well. If you experience any of the following, contact your doctor immediately:

    • dizziness
    • teeth grinding
    • blurred vision
    • depression
    • verbal or motor tics
    • seizures
    • mania
    • numbness in hands or feet
    • hallucinations
    • agitation
    • slow speech
    • withdrawal symptoms

    Dangers Of Adderall Abuse

    In addition to the serious side effects that can take place, Adderall can lead to a number of concerning dangers when abused.

    Cardiovascular Problems

    One of the primary warnings of taking Adderall, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is the potential for cardiovascular events. 

    When adolescents take a CNS stimulant and they unknowingly have a cardiac abnormality or heart problem, sudden death can occur.

    In adults, including college students who may turn to Adderall abuse as a way to study for tests, a number of cardiovascular issues can take place that may include:

    • chest pain
    • cardiomyopathy
    • high blood pressure
    • coronary artery disease
    • heart rhythm problems
    • heart attacks

    Older adults are more at risk of developing a life-threatening cardiovascular event.

    Polysubstance Use

    Those who abuse Adderall may add more drugs to the mix, combining a number of stimulants, depressants, or other medications. Whether it’s a combination of prescription medications or illicit drugs, combining multiple drugs that impact the CNS can have disastrous results.

    The following should not be combined with Adderall:

    • fentanyl
    • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
    • methamphetamine
    • serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
    • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
    • supplement or vitamins
    • benzodiazepines

    Serious drug interactions may occur if these drugs are taken with Adderall.

    Stimulant Overdose

    According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a stimulant drug overdose can lead to life-threatening side effects that may include:

    • seizures
    • hypertension
    • fainting
    • dizziness
    • hallucinations
    • coma
    • death

    If you suspect an Adderall overdose has occurred, contact 911 immediately.

    Special Precautions

    There are a number of special precautions you should follow before taking Adderall. For instance, if you or family members have a history of mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, this medication is not recommended as the potential for mania to occur is high.

    In addition to this, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should notify their doctor as soon as possible if they take Adderall. The drug should not be taken while pregnant or nursing.

    If you or a loved one struggle with substance use, drug abuse treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy, inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, and group therapy.

    To learn how we treat prescription stimulant addiction, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Food and Drug Administration - Adderall
    Drug Enforcement Administration - Controlled Substance List
    National Alliance on Mental Illness - Amphetamine (Adderall)
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine
    Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - Treatment of Stimulant Disorders

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on May 26, 2022
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