Thursday April 17th 2014

Is Adderall addictive?

YES. Adderall is addictive.

What makes Adderall addictive? Euphoric effect, or an extreme sense of well-being. But how Adderall works is different for those diagnosed with attention disorders than for addicts.  Here, we review what you need to know if you think you’re an Adderall addict. And we invite your questions about the addictive potential of Adderall at the end.

What is Adderall used for?

Adderall is a prescription stimulant medication used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. Adderall comes in tablet form, and in either immediate release or extended release versions. When taken as prescribed, Adderall can offer relief from symptoms throughout the day. But when you take Adderall to try to get high or are snorting Adderall XR, Adderall can become addictive.

What is Adderall made of?

The active ingredients in Adderall are synthetic substances, created in a lab. Adderall is made of the stimulants amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These powerful stimulant drugs are related to the illicit drug methamphetamine.

So how can Adderall get you high?  Amphetamines disrupt normal communication between brain cells and increase levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the central nervous system.  The excess dopamine can produce a feeling of euphoria.  Although normal, prescribed medical use of Adderall does not trigger this reaction in most people, the effect can be experienced by people without attention or sleep disorders.

How addictive is Adderall?

Adderall is very addictive in people who don’t have ADHD. Adderall’s strong effects on the central nervous system cause it to be frequently abused. And although it’s illegal to use Adderall without a doctor’s prescription, people use Adderall to enhance performance or to feel an intense sensation of well-being.

Adderall dependence vs. addiction

Adderall dependence is not necessarily the same as Adderall addiction. 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. But this isn’t the same as an addition – 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.

How do you get addicted to Adderall?

Are you taking Adderall for a medically-diagnosed disorder? If you’re taking Adderall as directed by your doctor, you probably won’t form an addiction to Adderall. In fact, it’s far less likely that you’ll get addicted to Adderall this way. However, if you increase doses or frequency of use, or enjoy the focused concentration you get while on Adderall, your chances of developing an addiction increase.

In general, you can get addicted to Adderall if you take it in a manner other than normally prescribed. If you make a conscious decision to misuse Adderall, it’s very likely you’ll become addicted. Some ways that people misuse and abuse Adderall are when they:

  • chew Adderall to prevent controlled release
  • crush Adderall into a powder and snorting Adderall
  • crush Adderall to dissolve in water and inject
  • take Adderall in higher doses than prescribed
  • take Adderall more frequently than prescribed

Finally, it’s worth keeping in mind that you’re at a higher risk of Adderall addiction if you’ve been addicted to other drugs or alcohol in the past.

Signs of Adderall addiction

Adderall dependence and addiction can be hard to tell apart. Both may manifest characteristics of tolerance and withdrawal. However, an Adderall addiction involves intense cravings for the drug and the feeling that the user can’t go without it. In other words, you may be addicted to Adderall if you need to take it to deal with normal stresses in daily life. Other signs of Adderall addiction include:

  1. Continued Adderall abuse despite negative consequences to your social, financial or physical livelihood.
  2. Craving Adderall and using it compulsively.
  3. Seeking Adderall in order to stimulate the “reward center” of the brain.

Adderall addiction potential questions

Do you still have questions about the addiction potential of Adderall? Please leave your questions, comments or feedback here. We are happy to help answer your questions personally and promptly. And if we do not know the answer to your particular Adderall question, we will refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: NIAAA pamphlet: Harmful Interactions, Mixing Alcohol with Medicines
DEA: Methamphetamine
Medline Plus: Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine

Leave a Reply

9 Responses to “Is Adderall addictive?
Chris
1:39 am June 18th, 2012

I live (am in a relationship) with someone who is prescribed 60mg of Adderall per day. He receives this prescription and is typically out of the medication by the 12-16 days later.

I have seen him sleep less than 15 hours in 15 days and stay up for as much as 6 days with no sleep. He starts to practice strange isolating behaviors, like locking himself in the bathroom for 3 hours and seems almost bipolar at times.

I can now tell when the Adderall runs out because he sleeps for 24-36 hours continuously and then can only seem to stay awake for 4-6 hours/day until the prescription is refilled or unless he is using marijuana.

So, I understand he is at least dependent on the drug and, when taken regularly, it does help him. Still, he can’t seem to control its use. Recently, he asked me to dispense it for him, a decision that lasted 12 days, I then gave him back half the month’s dose of 30 pills which he used in 4 days.

I’m fairly certain these are signs of addiction, especially since he is a recovering alcoholic. I am considering contacting his psychiatrist because repeated conversations with him yield the same results and I’m pretty certain he is not honest with his doctor.

I’d appreciate any clarification about my observations or advice.

7:34 pm June 20th, 2012

Hi Chris. It sounds like your instincts are on mark. These are all signs of possible drug addiction, and given past alcohol abuse, your friend is in a high risk demographic for Adderall addiction. My first piece of advice would be to seek help for yourself at Al-Anon or with a psychologist to be sure that you are setting boundaries, not in denial, and not enabling the behavior. Secondly, are you ready to risk the relationship in order to help him? You can certainly call the prescribing doctor and air out your concerns…but this information will probably not be “anonymous”. So, just know that addicts who are not ready to get better will risk ANYTHING in order to keep using their drug of choice. And that by telling on him, you may be ending your relationship…(for his own good!)

Does this make sense?

Chris
11:10 pm June 20th, 2012

Thanks for your response! It is good to know I’m not misperceiving the situation. Thank you, also, for the post on June 19 clarifying Adderall addiction even further. It was helpful as well.

Everything you said makes perfect sense. I realize the conversation with the prescribing doctor will probably mean the end of the relationship. Consequently, I’ve chosen to address it directly one more time and point out that our living situation is at risk of ending. To date, I have offered no ultimatums or threats, so this will be the first time (and the only time, I trust) I draw a line in the sand. I plan to point out that his desire to use Adderall in this way leads to behaviors that I can’t live with or provide tacit approval. I plan to point out that the behaviors are what I don’t care for and that I alone am arbiter of what is acceptable treatment of my home and my person.

It’s an uncomfortably harsh stand for me to take, but I feel being very direct and clear, without accusation, is the best way to deal with it. Frankly, I feel that it probably will not work, but it will give me a clear conscience take further steps to remove the issue from my life, including ending our relationship or approaching his doctor.

I’ve read the lethal dose for adderall for a person his size is about 1300mg/day, but I think I’m right in saying that taking 5-9 per day may lead to cardiac events that either cause damage or risk a similarly lethal result. Is that correct?

5:31 pm June 21st, 2012

Hi Chris. You are right on point. I wish you the best of luck and courage in facing this issue. You sound resolved and it seems that your attitude is healthy and compassionate simultaneously.

As to your last question, 70 mg of Adderall in one day is considered the maximum safe daily dose by the FDA. And cardiac events have occurred within this threshold, as well. This article may also be helpful to you:

http://prescription-drug.addictionblog.org/adderall-overdose-how-much-amount-of-adderall-to-od/

Meaghan
7:28 pm November 21st, 2012

Is adderall more of a mental addiction?

10:48 am November 22nd, 2012

Hi Meaghan,

Thanks for your question. Yes. Elements of psychological dependence must be present when you are addicted to Adderall. Mental dependence is basically a need for Adderall to cope with life and its stresses. It’s difficult sometimes to tell this apart from therapeutic need, but there are surveys and assessment tools that a doctor can use to diagnose Adderall addiction. Hope this helps!

Zeke
2:52 am January 19th, 2013

I think you should make it clear in this article that Methlyphenidate is NOT Adderall. Adderall is a racemic mixture of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. Methlyphenidate is other stimulant medications like Ritalin and Concerta.

I think you should also make it clear that when taken as prescribed and not abused, addiction is pretty much impossible (however it can still happen)

Linda
9:53 pm March 6th, 2014

I have been taking Adderall 10mg 3 times a day since 1998. I was in the parking lot at cvs drug store walking in when a police officer stopped me and ask me about three people, did not know anything about these people so he arrested me. Told them what medication I was taking and I came up positive for meth, which I am not taking, but still have to go to DUI classes, and they are testing me in the DUI classes and I am testing positive for meth, I have brain damage from a motor cycle accident and from my husband beating me in my head without the Adderall my brain spark is (-) 89. I even stopped taking the Adderall for 5 days so I would test clean but it still came up positive, now they said they are going to send me to rehab, I take care of my 83 yr old Mother, I apply for a SBA loan to Start my own business, I just received my Bachelor degree in Business Administration Specializing in Project Management, because of the DUI I had to register as a drug offender now I can not use my education for 5 yrs I keep telling them that I am not on drugs and they keep telling me I am a liar. Please tell me what I can do, without the Adderall I am considered a Mentally retarded person. There is nobody here to be with my mother. Please, Please help me. Thank You Very Much for Your Time, L

3:51 pm March 7th, 2014

Hello Linda. I would suggest that you seek help either with your prescribing doctor, a social worker, or a patient advocate. You’ll need to ask for testing specific to amphetamine salts and a matching prescription which can explain the presence of metabolites in your system. Do you have a current prescription for Adderall?

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