Table of Contents
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a powerful central nervous system stimulant made by combining stimulants amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. As classified by the Controlled Substance Act, snorting Adderall is a Schedule II drug. Schedule II drugs are marked by their high potential for addiction and abuse, although they are still permitted in medical settings.
What is Adderall Used to Treat?
Physicians often prescribe Adderall for narcolepsy. However, Adderall is known best for providing relief to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
For people with ADHD, Adderall’s effect as a central nervous system stimulant increases their brain’s production of dopamine and norepinephrine. People with ADHD often experience low impulse control, hyperactivity, and difficulty concentrating due to low dopamine production. When prescribed Adderall, dopamine and norepinephrine levels increase to standard levels and reduce symptoms of ADHD.
Adderall comes in two forms: immediate-release pills and extended-release pills. As the names suggest, immediate-release pills – simply called Adderall – act more quickly, lasting 4-6 hours. Extended-release pills – named Adderall RX – require a bit more time to take effect but last the entire day.
The only legal use of Adderall is by prescription from a physician. In recent years, however, Adderall has grown in popularity as a “study drug,” with a reputation for helping those without ADHD – often students – concentrate and pull all-nighters. Some may also misuse Adderall as a weight loss aid.
What Happens When You Snort Adderall?
Adderall is manufactured as a pill and prescribed by physicians for oral ingestion. However, with rising Adderall abuse, many who abuse Adderall have begun snorting the drug instead.
When consumed orally, Adderall passes through the GI tract, where its chemical components (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine) are steadily absorbed and released into the bloodstream.
Can Snorting Adderall Lead to an Overdose?
When snorted, Adderall is immediately absorbed into the sinus’s mucus membranes, quickly releasing a massive rush of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. This immediate absorption leads to a feeling of euphoria within minutes and long-lasting effects of increased concentration, excitement, and feeling energized.
It is the immediacy of delivering the effects of Adderall that make snorting so dangerous. When people crush up long-acting Adderall RX, they deliver the entirety of a drug created to release in small doses for a full day. For this reason, it is easy to overdose on Adderall.
Side Effects of Snorting Adderall
Aside from increasing your risk of overdose, snorting Adderall carries the additional downsides of:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain
- Muscle pain
- Motor or Verbal Tics
- Suicidal Ideation
Additionally, snorting Adderall can lead to long-term damage of the sinuses, sometimes resulting in permanent loss of smell and an ability to produce mucus that protects the sinuses.
Adderall Abuse in Students
Adderall use has risen in popularity, particularly amongst college students. Seeing it as a drug that improves focus, energy, and sociability, many forget the adverse side effects of Adderall abuse. It should be noted that any use of Adderall outside its prescription is considered abuse and is implicitly dangerous.
The dangers of Adderall abuse were cast into the national spotlight in 2018 when an 18-year old student from Texas A&M University died after an Adderall overdose. The student – Joseph Little – had been Adderall snorting to stay alert during long days balancing school with rushing a fraternity.1
Statistics on Adderall Abuse
Unfortunately, Joseph Little is just one of the thousands who die from Adderall overdoses each year. A national study of prescription stimulant use across 10,000 U.S. college students found that 7% had abused “study drugs,” similar to Adderall. However, the abuse rate varied between colleges, with the abuse rate of some student populations as high as 33%.2
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that between 2005 and 2010, the amount of ADHD-stimulant medication emergency department (ED) visits rose dramatically from 13,379 to 31,244. In addition, the number of ED visits involving ADHD stimulant medications and non-medical use also increased from 5,212 to a staggering 15,585.3
Additionally, over 11.7 million Americans in 2014 self-reported using Adderall for recreational or non-medical purposes. Of that 11.7 million, 4.8 million of those respondents were between the ages of 18 and 25.4
With the popularity and misinformation surrounding the dangers of Adderall abuse increasing year after year, it is vital to learn the signs of Adderall addiction and abuse.
Adderall Side Effects and Signs of Abuse
Adderall abuse includes any use not explicitly prescribed by a physician. Many who take Adderall without a prescription are seeking the well-known “positive” effects of the drug.
“Positive” Side Effects of Adderall:
- Improved concentration
- Ability to focus for extended periods
- Improved sociability
- Increased talkativeness
- Feeling energized
- Feeling healthy and strong
- Wanting to work
- Feeling excited
- Thinking more than usual
- Receiving revelations about the meaning of life
- Feeling anxious, worried, or impatient
However, these “positives” are quickly offset by other immediate adverse side effects of Adderall abuse.
Short-term Adderall Side Effects:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Malnutrition and weight loss
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Issues with sleep
- Shaking and tremors
- Shifts in sexual habits or interests
Long-term Adderall Side Effects:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Respiratory issues (shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
- Slowed speech
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain
- Muscular or verbal tics
- Numbness in limbs
- Blistering of skin, swelling of face, eyes, throat, or tongue
- Skin rashes and extreme itching
- Changes in vision, feeling dizzy
Signs that Someone is Snorting Adderall
If you believe someone you know and love is snorting Adderall, knowing what to look out for can help.
Signs of Adderall snorting can include:
- Behavior and mood changes
- Increased feelings of anxiety, depression, and irritability
- Changes in weight
- Changes in appetite
- Issues getting good sleep
- Nasal issues including nose bleeds
How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System?
If ingested orally, Adderall side effects typically present within 30 minutes, instead of immediately with Adderall snorting. The amount of time Adderall’s effects last depends on the type of pill, with Adderall pills lasting 4-6 hours and Adderall XR lasting around 10 hours.
Regardless of how long the effects last, Adderall has a half-life of roughly 13 hours. This factor means it takes about 13 hours on average for our bodies to remove half the amount of Adderall in their systems.5
The half-life varies depending on several factors (frequency of use, dosage, pH in urine, kidney or liver dysfunction, physical makeup). On average, it generally takes a little over a day to remove all Adderall from the body.
The Dangers of Adderall Abuse
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
Going “cold turkey” and stopping Adderall use can lead to numerous withdrawal symptoms that typically set in within the first hours or days. Withdrawal symptoms tend to persist for a further 2-3 weeks. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that even after making it through Adderall withdrawal, many with Adderall addiction relapse within four weeks of quitting.6
Symptoms of Adderall withdrawal include:
- Depression and exhaustion
- Anhedonia (lack of enjoyment)
- Agitation and anxiety
- Increased lethargy
- Vivid dreams
- Increased appetite
- Slowed movements
- Decreased heart rate
With hospitals experiencing increases in Adderall overdoses each year, it’s critical to familiarize yourself with the telltale signs. And as Adderall snorting becomes more popular, the number is likely to continue rising.
Signs of an Adderall overdose include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Excessive sweating
- Extreme confusion
- Heart Attack
Treatment for Adderall Addiction
Treatment for Adderall addiction largely rests on a mix of therapeutic tools. Medical professionals frequently use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help patients rewire thought patterns and instill healthier habits for coping with triggering emotions and events. Another therapy widely used for Adderall addiction is contingency management, which rewards good behavior with motivating incentives to stay clean.7