Table of Contents
What does Adderall Treat?
Adderall is a medication widely used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Chemically, Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, two powerful central nervous system stimulators.
While attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) used to be classified separately, the fifth and most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) reclassified them under the umbrella term of ADHD.1
Regardless, Adderall can provide relief for those with ADHD and ADD.
Symptoms of ADHD
The DSM-V groups the symptoms of ADHD in two categories:2
- Hyperactivity and Impulsivity
- Often has difficulty maintaining focus on tasks or activities
- Organizing activities and tasks is often a challenge
- Often does not listen when someone speaks to them directly
- Often makes careless mistakes and misses small details
- Often loses focus or gets sidetracked from finishing activities or following instructions
- Often demonstrates forgetfulness in daily life
- Finds themselves easily distracted
- Often misplaces necessary items for tasks
- May avoid or dislike tasks that require sustained mental effort and focus
- Often talks excessively
- Often fidgets, squirms in their seats, or taps hands and feet
- Experiences difficulty waiting their turn
- Finds it difficult to take part in playful or relaxing activities quietly
- May blurt out answers before the question is fully asked
- Often interrupts others mid-speech
- Feels like they’re always “on the go”
- May run or feel restless in inappropriate situations
- Gets up from seat when they should remain seated
When looking at all these symptoms, it can be understandably confusing to imagine how a stimulant would lead to more focus and calm for people with ADHD.
How Does Adderall Affect People with ADHD?
For people with ADHD, Adderall creates a paradoxical reaction in the nervous system. Rather than increasing hyperactivity, Adderall boosts the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, reducing impulsivity and improving concentration.3
How Does Adderall Affect People without ADHD
When people take Adderall without a prescription or a physician’s supervision, they often experience effects similar to ADHD.
The immediate side effects for someone taking Adderall without ADHD include:
- Feeling more sociable
- Being more talkative
- A desire to work
- Feeling excitement or hyperactive
- Overthinking or thinking about things more than usual
- Receiving insights about the meaning of life
- Feeling healthy
- Feeling anxious, nervous, impatient, or worried
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Weight loss and/or malnutrition
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Dry Mouth
- Uncontrollable shaking/tremors
- Changes in sexual interest
Additionally, long-term use of Adderall can lead to more severe consequences, including:
- Chest pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Feeling dizzy, faint, or experiencing changes in vision
- Exhaustion, rash, itching, fever
- Feeling numbness in legs or arms
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing, shortness of breath
- Slowed speech
- Blistering of skin, swelling of throat, tongue, face, or eyes
- Verbal or muscular tics
Why Do People Abuse Adderall?
Adderall’s claim to fame rests in improving concentration and focus. For this reason, Adderall has gained a reputation as a powerful “study drug” among students in high school, college, and beyond. The National Center for Health Research attributes 75% of stimulant abuse to high school and college campuses.4
Adderall helps students improve their focus to beat tight deadlines and pull all-nighters, making studying feel more manageable and efficient. However, while the spike in dopamine makes students feel more alert, research suggests that Adderall often undermines academic work.
The DEA and FDA have classified Adderall as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for addiction and is highly regulated. This factor means Adderall is available only through a prescription as given by a physician.
People with Adderall addiction may visit different doctors and go “pharmacy hopping” so physicians and pharmacies do not catch on. Additionally, people with Adderall addiction may seek alternative paths to the drug, like buying from street vendors or off “pharmacy hoppers.”
How Long Does Adderall Last?
The effects of Adderall usually set in within thirty minutes to an hour. The question, “how long does Adderall last?” depends on the type of Adderall. Immediate-release Adderall lasts between four to six hours, while Adderall XR’s effects last the whole day. Once consumed, Adderall is absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, where it is then either eliminated unchanged in urine or is deactivated by the liver.
The Adderall half-life (the average time it takes to remove half the initial dose from your system) helps provide clarity in determining Adderall length in the body and exploring the question of, “how long does Adderall last?” The length of the Adderall half-life differs from person to person but comes out to roughly thirteen hours for an adult.5
What Affects How Long Adderall Stays in the Body?
The exact amount of time that Adderall stays in someone’s system depends on several factors, including:
- The dosage
- Timing of the last dose
- Frequency of Adderall abuse
- Your body’s makeup (weight, age, health, height, etc.)
- The pH of the person’s urine (low pH eliminates the drug faster, high pH eliminates slower)
- Kidney or liver dysfunction
- Blood (detects Adderall for up to 46 hours after last use)
- Urine (detects Adderall for 72-96 hours after last use)
- Saliva (detects Adderall for 20-50 hours after last use)
- Hair (detects Adderall for up to 3 months after last use)
Is Adderall Addictive?
The short answer is yes, Adderall is addictive. Adderall misuse changes the biochemistry of our brains, so when we stop taking the substance, our dopamine and norepinephrine levels drop. Adderall addiction develops when one abuses the drug. The more someone without a prescription misuses Adderall, the more dependent their brain and body become on it.
Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Abuse
While many who abuse Adderall consider it a “harmless study drug,” there are a number of symptoms that indicate Adderall use has shifted to Adderall addiction.
These symptoms include:
- Needing higher dosages to feel the same effect as previous experiences
- Being unable to cut back on the use
- Experiencing cravings
- Spending large amounts of time seeking, using, and recovering from Adderall
- Choosing Adderall use over previously enjoyable activities
- Continuing use even when it disrupts social events or relationships
- Not completing work, home, or school responsibilities
- Using even when dangerous
- Withdrawal symptoms
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
Stimulant withdrawal symptoms usually develop within the first few hours to several days after discontinuing Adderall use. With this substance, these symptoms can last up to two to three weeks. Research has also shown that relapse is quite common with Adderall addiction and often happens within four weeks of quitting.6
Adderall withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Insomnia or increased lethargy/sleep
- Vivid dreams
- Lack of enjoyment
- Agitation and anxiety
- Increased appetite
- Slowed heart rate
- Slowed movements
Adderall Addiction Treatment
People experiencing Adderall addiction often benefit from substance abuse treatment programs. These programs often include a mix of behavioral therapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy which helps modify expectations and behaviors, as well as contingency management, which targets motivation and incentives for staying on the path to recovery.7
If you’re struggling to find your way back to yourself, know you’re not alone.
We at Brooks Healing Center are here for you and want to help you fall in love with everything life has to offer you. If you’re looking for some support on your road to recovery, reach out. We’re happy to discuss the pathway to recovery that works best for your lifestyle and goals.
- https://www.hazeldenbetty ford.