Dependence on Adderall

Dependence on Adderall occurs after 2-3 weeks of regular use. How can you end Adderall dependence? And how to tell the difference between dependence and addiction? We explore here.

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Are you worried about becoming dependent on Adderall?

Dependence on Adderall (amphetamine salts) can occur in the first few weeks after taking the ADHD medication. But does dependence mean that you could develop an Adderall addiction? How does Adderall affect the brain?  And is Adderall addictive physically or mentally?  In this article, we’ll explore the difference between dependence on Adderall and addiction, and we’ll also look at the strategies used to treat each. We invite your questions about Adderall at the end.

What is physical dependence on Adderall?

Dependence on Adderall is the physical need to take Adderall in order to feel normal. You can know if you’re dependent on Adderall or not by the presence or absence of withdrawal symptoms when you drastically lower Adderall doses or stop taking Adderall completely. If you have withdrawal symptoms, this means that you’ve become physically dependent on Adderall.

Adderall dependence time: How long to be dependent on Adderall?

Adderall, a combination of d-amphetamine and l-amphetamine salts, is extremely addictive. Some people may become addicted to Adderall within a matter of 2-3 weeks. But just because your body has become dependent on Adderall does not mean that you are an addict. However, you’re more likely to develop an addiction to Adderall if you’re taking Adderall in high doses or if you continue taking the ADHD medication for long periods of time.

Dependence on Adderall symptoms

Adderall dependence has a few main symptoms:

  1. unpleasant physical side effects when you haven’t taken Adderall
  2. feeling the need to take Adderall to feel “normal”
  3. taking higher doses of Adderall to experience the same effects

However, these symptoms don’t necessarily indicate an addiction to Adderall. Your body may simply be used to functioning with Adderall in your system.

Treating physical dependence on Adderall

Physical dependence on Adderall can be dangerous, as this drug can cause cardiovascular problems – but it can be difficult to stop taking Adderall abruptly, as well. If you want to stop taking Adderall, a doctor will need to work with you to create a tapered dosing schedule. This allows your body to slowly adjust to the lower levels of the drug, until you no longer need it in your system.

Adderall dependence withdrawal

Abrupt cessation of Adderall following prolonged high doses results in extreme fatigue and mental depression as well as sleep problems. Adderall withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • disturbed sleep patterns
  • fatigue
  • depression

Keep in mind that the best way to treat Adderall withdrawal is to gradually decrease the dose under the supervision of a medical professional until you can safely go off the medication. Withdrawal symptoms may last for days or weeks if you try to quit cold turkey.

Adderall dependence vs. addiction

When you’ve taken Adderall for a long period of time or at high doses, you may develop an addiction. While Adderall dependence keeps you from quitting the drug without withdrawal symptoms, Adderall addiction compels you to use the drug for effect. In fact, if you are an Adderall addict, you cannot think of life without Adderall.

So how do you know if you’re an Adderall addict or just drug dependent?

Psychological symptoms of craving and compulsive drug are present during addiction. Adderall addiction is more likely if you’re not taking Adderall as directed, or taking it without a prescription. Snorting or smoking Adderall also increases your addiction risk, as does taking large amounts of Adderall.

Treating psychological dependence on Adderall

Are there drug tests for Adderall?  Yes.  But Adderall addiction is more than a physical dependence. If you’re psychologically dependent on Adderall, you will:

  • feel the need to take Adderall to cope with normal situations
  • feel a compulsive need to use Adderall
  • experience strong Adderall cravings
  • continue to use Adderall even if it has negative consequences

If you have a psychological dependence on Adderall, simply reducing your dosage is unlikely to help you quit the medication.Your doctor may recommend a therapist specializing in addiction to help you reduce your use of Adderall. Some people also find support groups helpful in resisting the urge to take Adderall.

Adderall dependence questions

Do you still have questions about Adderall dependence and addiction? We invite you to leave us your questions about dependence on Adderall below. We welcome all questions and try to answer each one personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: DrugFacts: Stimulant ADHD Medications – Methylphenidate and Amphetamines
Nonmedical Use of Adderall Among Full-Time College Students
PubMed Health: Adderall
DailyMed: Adderall drug label
NIDA Drug Facts: Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. My husband was prescribed Adderall about 2.5 years ago by an internal medicine Dr. He has never had any testing to show that he was ADD/ADHD and he doesn’t have narcolepsy. He simply told the Dr. he was having a hard time focusing on tasks at work and at home. The Dr. gave him 20mg to take in am, my husband said that didn’t seem to last all day, so Dr. prescribed 10mg more for afternoon. This medicine has completely changed his personality. **Side note-I was dx. with ADD/anxiety in my early teen years and Adderall has helped me focus tremendously.** I have noticed that my husband is now abusing the amount of medicine he is taking. Taking it all in about 2 weeks or less and then taking mine. Initially, he was asking me for one and would “pay me back” when he got his, but when I began to say no, he started stealing mine. He will literally go into every drawer in house/my car to find it. When I confront him, he becomes very angry. When he is without the medicine for even a day, he is frantically trying to find more. When he can’t find more, he lays in bed-sleeping and c/o of pain. He also has increased his drinking at night to whiskey on ice every single night. It all came with taking the medicine. After writing all of this out, its almost too obvious to me, but I wanted to ask you, does this seem like an addiction that he needs help for? I grew up with an alcoholic father and went to Al-anon meetings many times (Im not going now-definitely need to). It seems crazy that this can be the same disease, as its “just” a prescribed low dose. I would love any help you can offer. Thank you!

  2. I was just started on adderall, day 2. I do feel a big difference.A positive change, but I’m getting really scared the more I read about it. I do not want to become addicted. Are there things I can do to prevent that happening? Please and Thanks.

  3. How can I sadly get back to the point where I can miss a dose w/of felling yucky ( headache, tachycardia, twitching and a weird sensation of my upp spine not next shaiking) I actually have ADHD and I like the focus I have while on adderall.I don’t ever “abuse” or take more then I need sometimes I take a lower dose depending on the how I have a healthy balance while using adderall? What is a better dosage. How do I get back to the point where I can skip doses and not feel gross? Thank you for reading this, I hope to hear from you soon.♡Jessica

    1. Hi Jess. I suggest that you speak with your doctor to help you create an individualized tapering schedule.

  4. Jody,
    If stimulants help you, one option is talking with your doctor about switching you to methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta, etc.). It works different than Adderall so you’ll might well be less tolerant to it. Some doctors rotate people between amphetamines and methylphenidate periodically when tolerance becomes an issue.

    Interesting, physical dependence to Adderall (or Dexedrine). I’m always eager to learn so I’d like to ask a favor: Could you provide me, say 3 or 4 articles at PubMed about this. You know, published articles that actually use the term “physical dependence” regarding amphetamines like Adderall.
    Thank you so much.

    1. Hi Robert. Here’s a list of suggested reading:
      For future reference, you may search on Google using these keywords: physical dependence to [drug]
      Also, we are using trusted sources for every article, which are listed below each article published on Addiction Blog.
      Hope this helps!

  5. I was prescribed 3 30 mg tabs a day for last eight years I am only 38 but feel 88 have to take more because of the tolerance but don’t want to b 90 and on adderal any suggestions

  6. My sister currently takes 300-400mg’s of Adderall a day. She buys them off the streets and is extremely dependant on them. What is this doing to her health, and her brain?

    1. Hello Andrea. It sounds as if your sister has a serious problem with Adderall, and that dependence may lead to addiction. Here are our infographics on long term effects of Adderall that you might find useful: and

  7. I have been tested so many times growing up and told I was ADD. Doctors tired me on various drugs. In college I started on Adderall and it changed my life. In a good way. I finally stopped having careless mistakes, stopped being impulsive, didn’t need extra time on tests, less procrastination, less forgetfulness, etc. I mean, I was really on top of things. I have been on Adderall for about 13 years. I college…maybe about 3 years into taking the drug, I noticed how sleepy I was-like I could sleep the day away- if I didn’t take my medicine. I also was never told how I should take breaks…like on weekends. Anyway, I still took the drug because aside from feeling sleepy when not taking it (which was by chance because I forgot to get my meds filled on time and so had to wait a day to do so). I also didn’t really think much about it either with the one time I didn’t take my meds. As I’ve gotten older I learned about addiction and dependency. I don’t think I’m addicted, but I definitely think my body is dependent because I still get super sleepy and crazy hungry if I miss a day taking my adderall. I also still do not take breaks. I didn’t really care to do so, but I also forgot to even try. I think it’s because I’m so use to keeping a routine and structure to get through my day. I leave my meds out in sight just so that I don’t forget to take them on time in the morning. Anyway…is it wrong to still take adderall knowing that my body goes through fatigue and extreme hunger cravings if I miss a day of it? Also, I’m afraid to tell my doctor because I’m afraid he won’t continue to give me my adderall…or work with me on making it work properly as far as fixing the dependency part… which now having said that, maybe I am addicted because I do feel that I can’t function normal without it…but then again, I really can’t because that’s why I was taking it in the first place…because of my ADD. What is the best way to handle this and is anyone else in the same boat? Torn with what to do?

  8. I began taking Adderal about 10 days ago. If I stop taking it for 3 days every 2 weeks or every 10 days, will that keep me from becoming dependent on it?

  9. Please urgent!! I only take adderall twice a week for weight loss. I take it the day after I pig out, I think I am becoming dependent on it. I do not want to get addicted. I’m really scared about the fact that I workout on it Is it possible to die from only taking a 20mg pill twice a week? I workout on the pill both days usually. Please get back to me

    1. Hi Zach. Are you prescribed to take this medicine? If you are, please call your doctor and ask about taking Addreall and physical activity preferences. Or, you can consult a pharmacist at the nearest pharmacy.

  10. Hi David. I’m sorry you are in such a situation, its always hard to see our loved ones in trouble. Now, considering your daughter’s medical condition and all the prescription medications she’s already taking, I cannot give you any certain advise. Please go to the doctor’s, they will be able to provide a more solid guidance. I wish her to get well soon.

  11. I just found out my daughter has been taking adderall for 2 months. The first month was 10mgs twice a day the next month 10mgs 3 tines a day and for the last weeks its been 15 mgs 3 times a day. She has lost 25lbs in the the last 10 weeks and looks emaciated. She has a history if abusing adderall that lasted about 3 months 5 years ago. How quickly can we taper her off or should i take her to rehab asap. She is a junior in college , finals are two weeks away. She has plenty of 15mg tabs and 10 10 mg tabs. Can we safely do this at home and how quickly can we DC adderall.. I cant believe her shrink would combine meds for bipolar “lythium and neurontin” klonopin for anxiety, tamazapam for sleep and I just found out the doctor prescribed amphatamine salts to the mix with a bipolar depression diagnosis. the combination of mood stabalizers , Benzos and now speed is just appauling. How big of a decrease is too much?

  12. Hi, I’ve been taking Generic Adderall for about six months. That’s six months in a row. I’ve been on AADD amphetamines for about two and a half years. More precisely I started out with Vyvanse, switched to Adderall (I wanted a bigger buzz) then I got serious again and switched back to Vyvanse, then scratched the whole notion of virtually anything resembling self control and went back on the much “funner” Adderall. I started on this medication with the best of intentions. I shot speed when I was younger and something clicked. I kept a mental note of this sort of realizing that with my behavior the way it was, (in my early 20’s) therapy couldn’t be far off, (if I lived, which I had no intentions of doing passed say 32). Well I lived. I quit everything. No drinking, no sleeping pill masturbation binges, (I’m really not trying to be offensive, honestly, diphenhydramine-hydrochloride,( the active ingredient in Sominex and…well put it this way Unisome missed the freakin boat), and onanistic pleasure are a unbelievable combination if one has the time and energy…I was a mess. In my panic I turned to God. I was a little disappointed to say the least. After a few years of really dismal sobriety, (I know…I know, sobriety and not getting intoxicated are apparently two different things), things perked up a bit when I realized I wasn’t going to try be a rock-star anymore and I got a cat. My Dad died and I started seeing a psychiatrist. I was so suicidal that I could never begin to explain it. So the psycho therapy helped, a little. I did manage to go back to school for about three years and then I decided to celebrate by starting to drink again. I was always a rotten drunk, very unclean put it that way. So delirium panic and my inability to comprehend college algebra saved the day and I no longer called Vodka darling anymore. I haven’t drank for years. I should also point out that I’m on disability, diabetes and psychological disorders further setting aflame the tattered remnants of whatever self esteem I could possibly have left. Being on disability doesn’t exactely make one proud of themselves, not to mention that years of substance abuse, severe depression, and solitude probably made me crazy, or I was bound to be crazy and my behavior was a result of my growing psychological problems, its a bit of a quandary you see. My whole life I’ve been trying to fix it myself. Noone would listen to me after awhile and when I was younger I was too scared to talk to anyone about, well being crazy. So when I was young I made the very conscious decision to destroy myself. As quickly as I could with some semblance of style. Long story short I’ve made it to 42. So as I was seeing different psychyatrists over the years I would always bring up AADD and amphetamine treatment. I really wasn’t sure If I was trying to score drugs or maybe there was something to my experiences with speed that were actually beneficial. So I finally got on the Vyvanse/Adderall regimen. I abused it. Now my elderly mother parcels out my daily dosage. I really think it helps, (but than again what would a dope fiend living in denial say right?) When I stick with it and use it like it should be used It helps me deal with things that I haven’t been able to handle in a long time. My suicidal ideation and behaviours are A LOT less intense and I find myself coming to terms with my past and go to bed with a smile on my face. Anyway, I’m either an addict or a person suffering with AADD who uses medication, I get a little mixed up on that. Now my blood pressure is higher than it has been and I’m concerned about being taken off my medication. Is it even worth it to continue on Adderall and try to lower my blood pressure with medication or should I stop, or probably more appropriately be taken off it once my BP is taken by a professional. I’m going in to my general practitioner next week and I’m wondering what your opinion is about asking him about blood pressure medication in combination with the Adderall. BPs runnin about 140/95.

  13. I have been off adderall for 8months now and I still have a lot of anxiety and depression deep depression daily. How long does it take before these symptoms reside. Is this a forever problem for me now. Thank you for any help

  14. Hello Arch. It’s difficult to predict how withdrawal will affect you, as effects are individual. I’d suggest that you work with your prescribing doctor on a tapering and lifestyle plan, so that you minimize risk of relapse (especially if craving is present). Also, consider working with a psychologist. After many years on a psychoactive drug, withdrawal can be difficult and you’ll need all the support you can get. Protracted withdrawal symptoms can persist for 2-3 months after amphetamines are no longer in your system, so preparation and adjusted expectations are key. Best of luck to you!

  15. I realize this article was posted quite some time ago, but I truly hope this message is received and responded to. I’ve been taking Adderall XR 20 mg for the past eight or so years now (6’1, 185 pounds, 27 yr.) and it has been quite affective in my life. It’s given me the energy and focus required for me to finish earning my bachelor’s degree and lose 120 pounds (with exercise, i.e. I’ve NEVER abused the drug). After it’s effects wear off I experience apathy and other negative side-effects, and these feelings are beginning to really impact my self-confidence –as though it has been the medication that has accomplished so much and not myself. Thus, I’m considering stopping the dosing.

    It’s safe to say that I’m an addict, most likely, and read in another article on this site that says the withdrawal effects can last through a series of months. If the dosages are tapered, should these effects last this long? The feelings of fatigue, weakness, and loss of general interest in things–how long should they last?

    Other info:
    I’m physically active (run 4-6 miles a day, lift weights 3 times a week)
    I eat well (80% vege, 5% carbs, 15% protein [Supplement/White Meat/Fish])

  16. Hi Ben. After acute withdrawal from physical dependence, you should be able to function as you did before taking the medication. Check in with your doctor about your concern about longer term effects. Little study has been done, but s/he may be able to point you in the right direction.

  17. As an adult taking low dose of Vyvanse or Concerta, if I get addicted and then go off of the medication, will I be dependent physically or will I be unable to perform mentally at the level that I could before medicating (kind of like taking steroids can permanently damage your hormones)

    will the mental damage per permanent or just short term?


  18. Joseph, I think you’re ok. This post is far too late to actually help you but you’re probably fine.(unless you’re an amphetamine addict now, I doubt it)

  19. Joseph, I too, have gone through exactly what you describe in your post. I suffered severe clinical depression since the age of thirteen to the age of 18 and am now the best person I have ever been. Unlike you, though, I had substance abuse problems in the past which I have now eradicated completely by sheer will power -something I never had in the past- and by the grace of God. I overcame my obstacles by myself and then I found my faith. It might seem irrelevant, but it all goes hand in hand. I was recently prescribed adderall because I have mild ADD and it has worked wonders for me. Like you, I discovered it through a friend and decided to tell my doc about it and he decided to give me a low dose and I have kept it there because of the risk of addiction. I have been doing great on it and off of it. What I do is that I keep track of my state of mind while on it and try to assimilate that state while off of it and I have been pretty succesful at it. I overcame the depression thanks to a man who I literally owe my life to. He made me step outside of myself and realize that everything around me was good and the only thing keeping me in that hole was my mind. I never bothered to look up and realize that there was a way out of it. Everything around you is happening all at once. People are being born, dying, laughing, crying, there’s tornadoes, storms, fire, poverty, hunger, people falling in love, breaking up and many many other things. In the grand scheme of things the goings-on in our lives are petty in comparison to the grandeur of this school I call life. Whenever I see someone down I tell them this, “There’s air in your lungs, you have people to love and people that love you, smile.” God bless you and your endeavors Joseph, and I recommend you talk to your doc about what’s going on in your mind and tell him/her about your experience on the meds and he/she will know what’s best for you.

  20. First off I would like to say that I have never replied to a post even though I do read a lot of them on various topics and do have an input on the topic but I feel the need to reply to this one because I feel my situation is fairly serious. I have taken 10 mg of adderall once a day for the past 3 days and, I am not proud of this but, I am not taken it because it is prescribed to me by a doctor. I am not nor have I ever been addicted or taken any drugs and only drink socially and not much or often. I was introduced to the drug at work by a coworker because we had a long night ahead of us and didn’t think we could finish everything we had to get done with just the two of us. He has taken adderall before and thought this was a good opportunity to make good use of it because he said we would be more focused and get everything done that we needed to. I was very reluctant but after a little thought (and probably some peer pressure) I said ok and he had some within 30 minutes. We each took 10 mg and an hour later started feeling the effects. It worked as he described and how I’ve heard it described in the past. We were focused and got everything done which I thought to be impossible before taking the drug.

    With that being said I’ve been suffering from what I believe to be mild depression even though I have not gone to a doctor for it and have not been treated. I have had ugly thoughts that are hard to me to talk about but they are thoughts nobody should have and I would wish upon no one. I also sleep a lot just so that I don’t have to be awake and think the things I do during the day. My outlook on life has just been down I guess is the best way to describe it. I am not happy with my life and I can’t get myself to change it, this is probably partly due to laziness although I don’t see myself as a lazy person.

    Now onto my question or questions. Can adderall be prescribed for depression? I ask this because the past 3 days while on it have made me feel the best I’ve felt since my mid high school years. I don’t have those ugly thoughts anymore and I see life differently in a very good way. I’m happy and am now, even though it has only been 3 days, have been making changes to better my life. I’ve gotten the motivation I guess to look at colleges finally get out and spend time with friends and family (which before I would sit in my room for hours and hours on my laptop or just sleeping) and I’m finding small things that before I wanted to do because I felt it may help the depressed feeling. Since the drug, I feel, is helping me so immensely could I have add or adhd? Or is there something that works in the way it is working for me that another drug can more accurately pinpoint and help me with?

    Just to clarify I am not proud of myself for taking this unprescribed and have mixed feelings about doing so. I am disappointed in myself for doing so because I know it is wrong and I am not the type of person to do something like this but on the other hand don’t I have the right to not be so disappointed because I am happy again like I was in my youth? The disappointment in myself, which I somewhat regret because of the mixed emotions, is, however, taking over and I cannot get myself to continue taking it to make myself happy because I know I shouldn’t without talking to a doctor first. Because of this I would love some input so I can have an outsiders opinion on everything I have discussed here. I apologize for the length of this but this is something very important to me and being happy and having the energy and focus to finally live life to the fullest and the best way I can is all I want. Thank you for reading this and again any input would be greatly appreciated.

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