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How is Adderall prescribed?

Adderall contains dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, two types of amphetamine salts which are highly addictive. How Adderall works in the body as a central nervous system stimulant is by making dopamine and norepinephrine more accessible in the brain.  However, Adderall abuse potential and addiction liability are two reasons why Adderall is only prescribed by medical doctors. Here, we review Adderall prescription basics and invite your questions about Adderall at the end.

What do doctors prescribe Adderall for?

Adderall is a prescription drug that’s used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy, a sleeping disorder. Adderall works in people with excessive sleepiness (narcolepsy) by stimulating the central nervous system. In people with ADHD, it has a paradoxical effect, helping them focus and remain calm.

Adderall prescription dosage

How much Adderall you need to take will be determined by your doctor. But, in general, you take immediate release Adderall formulas in 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg doses throughout the day. For the 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg and 30 mg extended release capsules, you would only take Adderall XR once a day.  How much Adderall can you take at once?  Never more than 30 mg, and even this dosage can trigger serious adverse effects, especially in children.

Adderall prescription cost

The cost of filling an Adderall prescription will depend on your personal health insurance coverage. Some people report costs as high as $250 a month to fill an Adderall prescription. If your insurance covers part of the costs or if you qualify for low income assistance, you may be able to pay closer to $50 a month. You may also be able to save money by asking for the generic version of Adderall, which is usually an off-brand version of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.

Can you get Adderall over the counter?

No. Adderall is available by prescription only. Adderall is highly addictive, so it’s only prescribed to people who have been diagnosed with ADHD or narcolepsy.

Signs of Adderall prescription drug abuse

Adderall is often abused for its stimulant effects, and used for studying, weight loss, or to get high. But someone who abuses Adderall regularly runs the risk of becoming addicted. Adderall shows up on a drug tests and on standard DOT 5 panel tests as an amphetamine. That is why employees use drug testing to screen for drug problems.  But what are the main signs of Adderall prescription drug abuse?

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To be clear, Adderall addiction is not the same as a dependence on Adderall in someone using it according to their doctor’s directions. Someone using Adderall to treat an attention disorder may not be able to function without the medication, or may experience withdrawal effects if they stop taking it. This isn’t the same as an addiction – an addiction involves a psychological compulsion to seek out the drug, even when it has negative effects on the addict’s personal or professional life. The main signs of Adderall prescription drug abuse include:

1. Taking Adderall in ways other than prescribed (snorting Adderall).

2. Taking Adderall more often or in higher doses than prescribed.

3. Taking Adderall without a prescription.

Adderall prescription questions

Do you still have questions about Adderall prescriptions? Please leave them here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. If we do not know the answer to your particular question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: ToxNet: Amphetamine
DEA: Methamphetamine
Medline Plus: Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine

Photo credit: robotson

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18 Responses to “How is Adderall prescribed?
Scott Crall
1:45 pm June 9th, 2012

I was happy to find such extensive information on ADHD medication such as adderal’s and ridalin (I myself have a prescription, but haven’t found much helpful information to the questions I keep asking myself) as I have had multiple questions come up that I was hoping you could assist me with.

1. I guess first and foremost I would like to start off with asking where you guys get your information from and how do I know it is accurate? (Please do not take this in a personal way as I have found your answers to be very helpful thus far) But I would like to know and reassure myself (as I am seeking important advice from you guys) that im not just getting more random information that may or may not be true, as half of the stuff I read online is false. Are you guys doctors, or law enforcement, or perhaps have degrees in the medical or legal field? Or do you just have vast knowledge of drugs? I just want to confirm that I am getting correct information from a reliable source.

Scott Crall
1:46 pm June 9th, 2012

2. If you recall from my other posts on the Spice page, I am currently on probation. I am curious if you are aware what the standard drug test is most probation officers use. I am from Missouri, and I am on probation for the possesion of a controlled substance. (that being a single unprescribed pill, that being an amphetimine charge ,and a bag of Mr. happy….if that helps.) My probation officer said me and a buddy of mine (who was with me at the time and facing the same charges as me) are being drug tested which I assumed was going to happen. As we have not been tested yet, I am unaware of what type of test we will have to take other than the fact that I am pretty sure it is a urine analysis. However, other than the standard drug test that I am assuming she is going to have us take, we were also told we would have to be taking a specific test to test for synthetic marijuana (spice). I am wondering If you knew what type of tests these were, or could possibly be? (such as a GC/MS?) Knowing this could really help set my mind at ease, and also possibly save me or my friend from screwing up and dropping dirty for something I wasn’t even aware could show up. Also what do the standard drug tests, as well as the spice specific drug tests, test for?

3. To elaborate a little more on that topic I am mainly concerned about the spice specific test. As I mentioned we are being told we are being tested for synthetic’s (spice) and as you have already informed me this will require a lab specific analysis other than the standard probation dip test. Would this lab specific test only be used to detect spices and therefore only confirm results of those in my system, or will this test be a far more precise one, breaking down and confirming specifically all the drugs (if any) in my system, (mainly concerned about it showing levels of Ridalin or Adderal systems) under the lab analysis, even though they are only intending to test for the spice? Will a lab specific test such as one issued for synthetics be so exact that it will show everything that could or has been in my system, and possibly how often or how much I have been abusing/using said drug? And if not does such a test exist that I would have to be worried about while on probation that would be that exact? Or does it just show only synthetic levels as that is the intended reason for me having to take the lab test. Would the lab analaysis be considered a gc/ms test or something different? And if it isnt… it possible that I would have to take a gc/ms test while on probation? I am in no way trying to cheat the system while being issued these tests under probation only wishing to be informed of the possibilities of the probation testing and just how precise they are able to detect anything, and everything I may have in my system at one point or another, and what I should make sure is never in my system to be on the safe side always. Thanks

Scott Crall
1:46 pm June 9th, 2012

4. Now that I have addressed all of that, and am patiently looking forward to your responses, I can move on to more specific questions First I will inform you I am indeed prescribed Adderall’s 20mg (the orange ones) and my friend (who has had many similiar questions as me) is prescribed Ridalin’s 10mg (little white ones.) We both received prescriptions on separate occasions for our ADHD and over the course of using this drug have each had many different questions arise that we just can’t seem to find a straight answer to online. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on the matter of these medications, and I am hoping you are able to give some straight exact responses, instead of me having to go from website to website finding numerous varying different answers and trying to figure out what is right, and what is false. Anyhow, first I was curious as to what Adderrall would show up as on a drug test, I believe it is amphetamine but would just like to have you confirm that to make 100 percent sure that it indeed would test only positive for amphetamines or would anything else show up along with it? Also will the drug tests I am to be taking while on probation (or the spice lab analysis drug test I am to take) show how often or how long I have been taking it or the level of it within my system or will it just show a positive result for it and that will be that since I can legally have it, even while on probation. How specific can test results be when it comes to that? In addition to that I was wondering what Ridalin then would show up as on a drug test. I know Adderals are classified as amphetimines while Ridalin is classified as Methylphenidate. Does the Methylphenidate come up on a drug test result as amphetamines as well or does it produce amphetamines results at all? And similiar to my question with the adderall would the Ridalin show positive results for anything else or would it just be amphetamine alone? And again as these 2 pills are very similiar just like my confusion with the Adderall I too was wondering if the test will indicate the level of Ridalin in your system, or how often/how long you have been taking them?

Scott Crall
1:48 pm June 9th, 2012

5. Once we are fully aware of the medication we are taking, and what it could possibly show up as on a drug test, I will feel much better about taking it, and taking these tests for probation. However information on them is very grey. To get right to it, the main concern I have with these 2 identical, but different pills is wether or not you know if these 2 pills would show up the same on drug test? I am aware that it isn’t recommended, as it is not my doctor prescribed medication, (yet I would argue that it couldnt hurt as the 2 pills serve the same purpose) Lets say I were to have taken some Ridalin instead of my prescribed Adderall medication, and it was close enough to when I had to go see my probation officer and take a drug test that the said Ridalin would still be in my system, would the test indicate positive for Ridalin, or is there any test (such as GC/MS that could specifically show the exact pill I had taken instead of showing up as a general term of amphetamines) Can any tests show I had taken an ADHD med other than my Adderall? And if their are tests that could specifically reveal if I had taken one ADHD med over another would their be a good chance of them testing me with that one, or do you assume I will most likely get the standard 5-panel drug test (aside from the spice specific lab test) in which case is going to test positive for amphetamines in my system no matter which ADHD medication I had taken recently.

Scott Crall
1:48 pm June 9th, 2012

Along with this, if I had taken them both recently enough, would any drug test indicate or distinguish that 2 different pills (being 1 Ridalin and 1 Adderall for example) were in my system or would their be no way of distinguishing between the 2 and it would just reveal positive for amphetamines in general no matter which medication I had taken, which is normal, as my p.o is counting on me dropping dirty for that since it is my prescription. Also while on this topic of questions if I had taken a Ridalin I can’t help but be curious as to how long would it stay in your system to show up on the test in the first place. Thanks again for your answers.

6. Last question I have for you, is the shortest one, however maybe the most important. While trying to find answers to these questions (before eventually deciding to seek your advice) I stumbled upon many posts claiming it is common for adhd meds, such as our Ridalin and Adderall, to show up positive on drug tests for meth. And I even read stuff about people getting violated from their probation, for false-positives from taking these medications. Is it possible for me or my friend to produce a false-positive test result from taking these Adderalls or Ridalins? And if it is possible is there anyway I could get in trouble for that, or even sent back to jail? I would expect that it would be assumed for the probation officer to know it was due to our prescribed meds, and therefore I would be in the clear of any trouble due to false-positives caused by taking Adderall, or Ridalin but I wanted to ask you to atleast know ahead of time if i should even be concerned with that. Do you know of this ever occuring? and if so what are the possible false-positives that could show up (if any)? And if it is possible, If it ever happened would confirming my Adderall prescription be enough to prove it was a false-positive of it, or what action would I have to take to prove I was clean of said substance?

5:21 pm June 13th, 2012

Hi Scott.

1. I am a medical researcher and writer. All information on Addiction Blog has been researched and referenced from .gov websites.

2. I covered this topic in another article. Let me see if I can find it for you.

3. Adderall and Ritalin test as amphetamines. They will not be detected on a Spice specific test, although if you have a prescription and test within expected limits, you will show NEGATIVE for misuse. Some tests detect levels, some only POS/NEG. But these test for what is in your system right now. Only a hair analysis sample can detect levels over time.

4. More here

11:36 pm December 14th, 2012

I was tested for meth on a 1 panel drug test I am prescribed Adderall but very seldom take it it actually makes me tired. Because I do have ADHD. It was given to me at an outpatient rehab. it tested positive for meth and I did not do Meth. I got a probation violation only 2nd on but I have to go to court now. I read that Adderall Generic salts have 3 parts Methanphetamines in it. L, D and another. It said that if the anphetamine level goes above the level of testing for anphetamines that it will show up as methanphetamines. Could this be why it showed up meth? I took my ususl dose 2 a day 20mg all weekend because my home was burglarized and i had to concentrate. Plus I have a vicks vapor inhaler?

9:07 am January 14th, 2013

Hi Barbie. Yes, your Adderall prescription may be testing positive for methamphetamines. Both amphetamines and methamphetamines are usually detected as “amphetamines”. I’d suggest that you request a re-test or present your prescription to the probation officer. Either way, an initial positive test requires a more specific immunoassay to detects methamphetamine on its own.

9:13 pm June 21st, 2013

My daughter has been on Adderall for 5 years. She takes the 20 mg immediate release. It is prescribed 2 x daily but she takes it once a day. She recently moved and I mailed her medication to her but it was delayed for a few days. Her new doctor ordered a few pills until she can get hers. However the new doctor ordered time release instead of immediate release. How will this affect my daughter?

1:03 pm July 3rd, 2013

Hello Marsha. From what I understand, an immediate release version of Adderall peaks faster that a controlled release. As long as she takes the time release for her next expected dose, she should not experience symptoms of withdrawal, which tend to be related to energy and mood. For verification, you can call your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to help clarify with a qualified medical opinion.

4:06 am July 6th, 2014

I think I have ADHD, I am afraid to ask my dr. about it as it is what it is. I’m not an addict or a seeker. I guess the question is how do I go about getting a script for it? Or find out if I need it?

7:23 pm October 7th, 2014

I don’t know what to do …. My child is addicted to Adderall ….

2:59 pm December 17th, 2014

Is there a safe amount of anphetamine you can take, without any long term damage to the brain, or body. If there is what is the smallest dose, you can use if prescribed to increase mood.

9:00 pm November 7th, 2015

Here we go. Diagnosed with adult ADHD, started taking Adderalls 20mg x2. About 4 months ago. Changed life. Here is weird part, Chronic pain issues back and legs – take massive amounts pain meds. MASSIVE! Roughly 24 surgeries: spine, neck, both knees and elbow replaced. – Cars are fun. Pain meds are almost non-existent, however, I am taking 30mg X 3 Adderalls a day but it is beginning not to work. Pain is getting back to terrible again and whatever Adderall did seems to have faded. Anyone ever have similar event with Adderall? Pain meds suck!

7:37 pm November 17th, 2015

Hello John. Maybe, you’ve built a level of tolerance, and you need change in dosage or you need to be switched to another medication. I suggest you talk with your doctor about your situation.

2:22 am January 25th, 2016

As of late after using Adderall for about 15 years, I been having trouble sleeping. I take 30mg 4 times a day (QID) and I take Norco 10mg (of-course) 4 times a day, then I may have an upset stomach so I take a Bi-carb (Co2). Klonipin, Ambien, Goes without saying, I don’t mean to boast a little ‘since life has it’s ups & downs’ but maybe, I have a better line of shit then most of you. Stop Whining Children and behave.

Lee Anne
6:34 pm January 27th, 2016

please can someone help me. My daughter is prescribed Adderall 30 mg deylaid release for ADHD. My problem is I be been sneaking a few pills here and there and I know she’ll find out. She knows I have a substance abuse problem. I want to tell her what I did but she’s the type that would hate me forever. And I mean move out of the house. How can I be honest with her without her being so disgusted with me. I don’t want to lose her trust because she means the world to me. How do I tell her the truth? It scares me how her anger gets. Do I get a mediator to sit with us and explain what I did. I know I need help. I took it because how bad my depression is getting. Please don’t bash me because I know I did wrong. I just need to know how to approach her with the truth.

8:22 am February 1st, 2017

I have fought depression for40 plus years.Did not know ritalin could be used to help depression. Story after story on the blog say it is a miracle drug.Story just like mine. Do you think a reasonable Doctor would have any problems giving me the drug..I am 64,depressed constantly, whats to loss but depression. I take care of my 87 year old mom by my self. This doesn’t help.what you think,ritalin or no ritalin. I don’t how long i can hold out with this depression.

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