Is Adderall Addictive? Signs & Symptoms of Adderall Addiction

Millions of people use Adderall every day. For many of these individuals, the drug’s effects are life-changing. But anyone who uses this or any other prescription medication should know the answers to some important questions. For example, is Adderall addictive? And how can you tell if you or someone that you care about has become dependent on it?

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is the brand name of a prescription medication that contains two stimulants: racemic amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is most commonly prescribed to people who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used to treat narcolepsy.

When a person takes Adderall, the drug triggers increase levels of three neurotransmitters:

  • Dopamine, which is involved in motivation, learning, memory, and pleasure
  • Epinephrine, which plays an essential role in the body’s “fight or flight” response
  • Norepinephrine, which is associated with focus, concentration, and alertness

According to data collected by the health research firm IQVIA, pharmacies in the United States filled more than 41 million prescriptions for Adderall or its generic version in 2021.

Is Adderall Addictive?

Knowing that Adderall contains both amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, it is understandable to wonder, is Adderall addictive? 

Yes, Adderall can be addictive.

The risk of addiction may be greatest among people who intentionally abuse Adderall, but anyone who uses this medication (even those who adhere to their doctor’s instructions) could develop an addiction.

Addiction can look and feel different from one person to the next, but in general it is characterized by repeated, compulsive use of a substance even after incurring physical, psychological, and/or social harm as a result of prior use. 

The good news about Adderall addiction is that it is a treatable condition. But in order for someone to get help, they first have to realize that they have a problem. In the next two sections, we explain how to recognize possible signs of Adderall addiction.

Signs You Might Be Addicted to Adderall

Now that you know the answer to the question, Is Adderall addictive?, it’s time to move on to an equally important question: How can you tell if you or someone you care about has become addicted to this medication?

It can sometimes be difficult to acknowledge or even realize that you have developed a substance use disorder (which is the clinical term for addiction). 

If someone has suggested to you that you might have a problem with Adderall, or if you have become concerned about your use of this medication, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have intense cravings for Adderall?
  • When you can’t acquire or use Adderall, do you become upset, anxious, or agitated?
  • Have you continued to use Adderall even though you know this behavior is harmful?
  • Have you ever bought, borrowed, or stolen Adderall that was prescribed to someone else, or even thought about doing so?
  • Have you ever exaggerated your symptoms (or flat-out lied) to a doctor in an attempt to get a prescription for Adderall?
  • Do you ever use Adderall in ways that you know can be particularly dangerous, such as by taking an excessive amount or combining it with other drugs?
  • Do you need to take larger amounts of Adderall to achieve the effects that you used to attain via smaller doses?
  • When you try to stop taking Adderall, do you develop physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms?
  • Do you want to stop using Adderall, but have been unable to do so?
  • Do you think you’re addicted to Adderall?

If you have answered yes to any of the questions above, you should consider scheduling an assessment with your doctor or an addiction treatment expert in your area. Completing an assessment and receiving a diagnosis can be two important steps on the path toward treatment and recovery.

How to Tell if a Loved One is Addicted to Adderall

Since you can’t tell what another person is thinking or feeling, if you suspect that someone in your life has become addicted to Adderall, you should watch for behavioral warning signs such as these:

  • They undergo dramatic shifts in mood, attitude, and energy level.
  • They have become more talkative, excitable, and/or restless than usual.
  • They have been exhibiting uncharacteristic anger and aggressiveness.
  • Their performance at work or in school has changed considerably.
  • They have had unexplained financial problems.
  • They have become more closed-off and secretive, which may include withdrawing from family and friends and refusing to disclose how they’ve been spending their time.
  • They no longer seem to be interested in sports, hobbies, or other activities that used to be very important to them.
  • They have unintentionally lost a noticeable amount of weight.

Please note that, on their own, none of these signs are definitive proof that a person has developed an addiction to Adderall. But anyone who exhibits several or all of the signs above could be dealing with Adderall addiction or another mental or behavioral health crisis.

You can’t cure a loved one’s addiction, but you can help them find the care they need. If you believe that a friend or family member has become addicted to Adderall, encourage them to talk to their doctor or another qualified healthcare provider. 

Potential Effects of Untreated Adderall Addiction

The continued compulsive abuse of Adderall can expose a person to considerable physical and psychological harm. It can also undermine the quality of their relationships as well as their academic progress and their career development.

Here are a few examples of the physical damage that can result from long-term Adderall abuse:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Tremors or shakiness
  • Malnutrition
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures
  • Stroke

People who misuse Adderall for an extended period may also be at risk for the following negative outcomes:

  • Conflicts with friends, family members, and colleagues
  • Poor memory and other cognitive impairments
  • Financial problems
  • Being arrested, fined, and jailed
  • Academic failure
  • Job loss

It is no exaggeration to note that Adderall addiction can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. But when you get the help you need, you can stop abusing this medication, minimize your risk of further harm, and begin to build a foundation for a much healthier future.

Learn More About Adderall Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts

Lake Avenue Recovery is a respected provider of personalized outpatient care for adults who have become addicted to Adderall and other substances.

Our outpatient addiction treatment center in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a safe and welcoming place where you can work in close collaboration with a team of compassionate experts. We will take the time to get to know you as a unique and valuable individual, so that we can be sure we’re providing the focused services that best meet the full scope of your unique needs.

To learn more about how we can help, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.