Adderall Misuse is Growing in the US

Among young adults, Adderall addiction and abuse are common.

Known in younger circles as the “study drug,” Adderall boosts your attention and energy levels. These side effects make it appealing to other demographics as well.

But, Adderall is typically only a temporary solution. Over time, Adderall addiction can prove detrimental to your mental and physical health.

For long-term health and peace of mind, choose Pathfinders Recovery Centers. We will meet you where you are and help you get where you need to be.

Adderall addiction and abuse

What is Adderall?

Currently considered a schedule II substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Adderall is a prescription amphetamine with a particularly high potential for abuse. While it is most commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), individuals may also be prescribed Adderall to help treat narcolepsy (a sleep disorder).

For those who do not have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, however, misusing Adderall can quickly lead to addiction. A condition that can have significant negative consequences.

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Is Adderall an Opioid?

Drug classifications can be difficult to understand and keep track of. Many drugs exhibit characteristics and competing side effects that fit into multiple categories. Adderall is one drug that tends to cause a lot of confusion.

Adderall is not an opioid. It is a prescription central nervous system stimulant. Doctors prescribe Adderall to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. This prescription stimulant has been labeled high-risk for the potential it holds for abuse and addiction.

Adderall addiction and abuse, is Adderall an opioid


While it is a prescription drug, it is not uncommon for individuals to take this drug for non-medical use. In fact, prescription stimulant abuse has become increasingly problematic in the U.S. in recent years. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), an estimated 17.2 million people ages 12 and older reported misusing stimulant medication (i.e., ADHD medications). 

This trend has become increasingly popular amongst young adults, with this substance commonly referred to as a “study drug,” a fact already mentioned. 

Among students and the general public, Adderall addiction and abuse are also becoming more common among individuals with challenging jobs, overnight shifts, or stressful home lives. After all, taking Adderall may be their easiest means of keeping up with the demands and responsibilities of their life circumstances. 

Furthermore, because it often causes users to lose their appetites, individuals may abuse Adderall in an attempt to lose weight. However, again, this is typically a transitory fix and does not address lifestyle or other changes that would be more lasting, not to mention healthy. 

Adderall Addiction and Abuse Pathfinders - Adderall addiction and abuse is becoming increasingly common, especially among college students, but Adderall can be a very addictive substance that can lead to extreme negative consequences

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How Addictive are Prescription Stimulants?

One of the biggest challenges with prescription drugs is that people tend to believe that they cannot be bad for them. Because it came from a doctor, it may be difficult to conceive the possibility that it can be dangerous to abuse Adderall.

Unfortunately, this false belief has contributed to rising rates of prescription stimulant misuse in the United States. In particular, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, college students have typically higher rates of Adderall abuse compared to other members of the population.

While taking Adderall can help temporarily increase energy, focus, and productivity, there remains a significant lack of evidence supporting that this drug can actually increase academic performance. Thus, while it may be tempting to misuse Adderall, the risks that come with this behavior are simply not worth the small chance of reward.


There are a few ways in which individuals may abuse Adderall, each of which can produce different highs and side effects. These include:

  • Orally Ingesting Adderall. One of the most common ways individuals will use this drug is orally. This is done through ingesting Adderall pills which, for those who do not have a medical reason for taking Adderall, will produce a mild to moderate high depending on the dosage.
  • Snorting Adderall. In an attempt to achieve a faster and stronger high, some individuals choose to crush these pills up and snort the powder they produce.
  • Injecting Adderall. While not particularly common amongst those with an Adderall dependency, another form of administering amphetamines is by mixing their powdered form with water, and injecting this solution directly into the bloodstream via syringe.


Amphetamines are central nervous system stimulants, meaning they produce a direct effect on the chemical makeup of an individual’s brain. In particular, using this substance can result in an increase in brain activity involving areas associated with energy and cognitive function. 

Thus, taking Adderall will result in feeling more energetic, focused, and confident, and may even elicit euphoric thoughts and feelings.

Illicit vs. Prescription Adderall Addiction and Abuse

The concerningly high rates of Adderall misuse amongst college students suggests that these individuals are not getting this drug from their doctor; thus, it can be assumed that much of this Adderall use is illicit.

Studies analyzing the nonmedical use of Adderall and similar prescription stimulants found that approximately 60% of teens and young adults surveyed reported getting them from friends and family members who already had these prescription drugs, rather than from a doctor.

Unfortunately, prescription stimulants such as Adderall are shared at alarming rates. While Adderall can help individuals with ADHD regulate their attention and brain functions, this drug has become far more commonly used by individuals who may not actually need this substance.

Furthermore, college students or other young adults who engage in this form of drug abuse are more likely to continue abusing Adderall in their adulthood. A habit that can also lead them to begin abusing other drugs, which has lent a degree of credence to the theory of prescription stimulants as a gateway to methamphetamines and other hard drugs.

Recognizing an Adderall addiction


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there are several signs that may show someone is struggling with addiction. Some indicators of Adderall abuse may include:

  • Adderall cravings
  • Wanting to stop using, but being unable to
  • Taking higher doses of this substance than usual
  • Using Adderall more frequently over time
  • Neglecting other responsibilities and aspects of life to continue using
  • Continuing to use, even if this behavior is causing relationship problems
  • Continuing to use despite the potential danger it may cause to oneself or others

If you recognize these behaviors, whether in yourself or a loved one, it may be time to start considering getting help. Here at the Pathfinders Recovery Centers, we can help you get the treatment you need to overcome addiction. So call today, and see how Pathfinders can help you. 

Common Side Effects of Adderall Addiction and Abuse

There are several side effects that are associated with Adderall abuse. These can vary in their severity and nature depending on several factors, including:

  • The extent of the individual’s physical dependence on Adderall.
  • Simultaneous engagement in other forms of substance abuse.
  • The frequency at which an individual uses Adderall.
  • The dosage of Adderall that is being taken.


Short-term side effects of Adderall use may include an increase in focus and energy. However, individuals may also experience other negative effects when using this drug, including: 

  • Feeling nervous or on edge
  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Hoarseness
  • Slower speech
  • Visual disturbances


While most of the short-term effects of Adderall use may not be much of a cause for concern, the long-term side effects of Adderall addiction prove far more troubling. These may require immediate medical attention, and can include: 

  • Increased body temperature and / or fever
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Numbness in the limbs
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Increased heart attack risk
  • Potential heart failure
  • Seizures developing from nerve problems
  • Uncontrollable shaking and/or tics
  • Hallucinations, paranoia, or increased panic
  • Development or worsening of mental disorders (i.e, anxiety and depression)
  • Mood swings

Allergic reactions to Adderall are also possible, and can quickly become life-threatening. Signs of this may include swelling in the tongue, throat, or face, itchiness, or difficulty breathing.

Adderall addiction and abuse: signs of overdose

Signs of Adderall Overdose

When it comes to prescription stimulant abuse, there is always a possibility that this behavior may result in a potentially lethal overdose. Some of the milder symptoms of taking a higher dose of Adderall than necessary may include restlessness or tremors.

However, individuals may also show psychological warning signs of an Adderall overdose, including:

  • Confusion
  • Aggressive Behavior
  • Panic
  • Hallucinations

Adderall overdose may also cause several physical symptoms, including:

  • Overactive reflexes
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Abnormal fevers
  • Muscle pains
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Circulation failure
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Convulsions
  • Coma

Risk Factors for Adderall Overdoses

When mixing Adderall with alcohol or other drugs, the risk of an overdose is increased. This is a common (and very dangerous) practice amongst college students. When combining prescription stimulants with problematic drinking, individuals may also be at greater risk of alcohol poisoning; a problem that can quickly become lethal if not medically treated immediately. 

Furthermore, for those who are abusing Adderall as a weight-loss method, this can lead to malnutrition, which will present a number of issues on its own. There is no reason to wait until Adderall addiction impacts your physical or mental health, relationships, or schooling to get the help you need and deserve.

The sooner you get through a quality drug rehab program, the sooner you can get back to your life with newfound strength, confidence, and freedom from your addiction. Why wait another day to see what Pathfinders can change for you?

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For those who have developed an Adderall dependence, suddenly stopping usage of this drug can result in a number of adverse effects; especially if frequently taken in higher doses. These symptoms of Adderall withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to weeks, and may include:

  • Feeling uneasy or nervous
  • Insomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Feeling anxious or irritable
  • Experiencing panic attacks
  • Feeling fatigued or lacking energy
  • Feeling depressed
  • Developing new phobias
  • Having suicidal ideations

The amount of time these withdrawal symptoms may persist will depend on a number of factors, including your genetics, any previous history of substance abuse or mental health complications, as well as any family history of addiction.

Adderall abuse and addiction treatment center

Treatment Settings for Adderall Addiction and Abuse

Most people do not have the intention of becoming addicted to Adderall when they begin using this drug. Of course, this is often the case with any type of substance use disorder. 

Unfortunately, with its ability to temporarily alleviate high amounts of pressure and help manage increased workloads, it can be hard to avoid developing a physical and psychological dependence on Adderall.

If you are struggling with an Adderall addiction, it is best to face it head-on. Once addiction begins, particularly with Adderall, spending the time you need to recover now, rather than waiting for it to get worse, is imperative. 

Seeking professional treatment options is the fastest and easiest way to get your life back on track. After all, over time, addictions often only get worse and more challenging to handle.

Contact us today to discuss your options, and find rehabilitation centers dedicated to providing the care and support you need.

Depending on your specific addiction, personal needs, and schedule, we may recommend one of the following treatment options:

Whether you choose to recover at a residential treatment center, or through an outpatient rehab center, these programs use research-based and proven therapeutic, clinical, and holistic methods to address your addiction. 

From detox to aftercare, we will help you understand and address your unique addiction needs, mental health concerns, and potential complications.

Our programs are customized and well-rounded for the best care possible, whether it be to those who are addicted to Adderall, or any other substances.


Seeking out help at inpatient, or residential, addiction treatment centers are highly recommended for individuals struggling with substance abuse. Whether dealing with Adderall abuse or any other type of addiction, these facilities offer 24/7 care and resources during your recovery process. 

These resources may include tools for managing withdrawal symptoms, life-skill building programs, therapeutic services, recreational amenities (i.e., a pool, gym, etc.), and several others. 

Furthermore, inpatient programs may often include aftercare programs dedicated to helping recovered individuals re-adjust to living independent and productive lives. These may also provide services that focus on helping newly-sober people find job opportunities and housing as they get back on their feet.


As many people might not be able to meet the time commitment required of an inpatient treatment program, more flexible options may be necessary for their journey to addiction recovery. 

This may include seeking out an outpatient rehab center when treating Adderall abuse. Whether participating in an intensive outpatient program (IOP), or alternative addiction treatment programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), these can be particularly beneficial in managing an Adderall addiction.

Adderall Addiction and Abuse Pathfinders - A group of college students struggling with adderall addiction and abuse gathers in a residential rehab group therapy session to discuss healthy coping strategies and treatment options for Adderall misuse.

Mental Illness and Adderall Abuse

Adderall addiction is linked to several common mental health disorders. After all, this stimulant causes significant changes to occur within your brain. Over time, this can alter your behaviors, thoughts, and overall mental well-being.

One of these psychological symptoms of Adderall abuse is the development of worsening depression or anxiety. Furthermore, with prolonged Adderall addiction, suicidal thoughts and tendencies are possible.

When a mental health disorder co-exists with an addiction, this is called a dual diagnosis. When it comes to dual diagnoses with an Adderall dependency, co-occurring cases of depression and Adderall addiction are typically the most common.

Whether you started using Adderall to cope with the symptoms of your mental health disorder or your mental health disorder developed as a result of your addiction, this is not something that you are stuck living with forever. 

Pathfinders can help address several dual diagnoses, with many of our clients having effectively overcome their dual diagnoses and achieved full, sober, healthy, and happy lives. All you have to do is simply ask for help, and be willing to match our efforts in your recovery journey.

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Pathfinders’ Recovery Center

Adderall addiction can be difficult to overcome alone, but that’s why we’re here. At the Pathfinders’ Recovery Center, no matter the level of addiction or complications you are facing, we are here to face them with you.

You do not have to wonder what your life could be like if you could just overcome your addiction and move past it. Instead, you can join the countless others who have used our addiction treatment programs to change the rest of their lives.

We will provide the tools, knowledge, support, and guidance you need to make the change. You will find the strength and confidence to take it from there. Call us now to get your recovery started at our treatment centers today!


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