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Is Adderall a narcotic?

YES and NO. Adderall is a legal narcotic and Schedule II drug. But Adderall is not a medical narcotic. More on narcotic definitions and Adderall as a narcotic here.

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Medically, NO. Adderall is not classified as a narcotic.

Legally, YES. Adderall is a Schedule II drug, classified as such by the Controlled Substances Act.

More here on the narcotic status of Adderall, plus a section at the bottom for your questions about Adderall.

Medical uses for Adderall

Adderall, as an amphetamine (stimulant) is most often prescribed to treat people diagnosed with attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder (ADHD).  Adderall is also prescribed for narcolepsy, the inability to stay awake.  However, it must be noted here that cases of Adderall sudden death, while uncommon, can occur.  Futhermore, Adderall is an amphetamines in system how long?  Drug screens for Adderall can detect amphetamines in urine for 1-2 days after use.

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Adderall as a medical narcotic

Adderall is not a narcotic by medical definition. A narcotic is a medication prescribed for pain relief. Narcotics usually have a high level of abuse because in addition to producing analgesic effect, they can also provoke euphoria. Euphoric effect, a deep sense of well-being, may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. Instead, Adderall is a stimulant compound containing a mixture of salts which acts as an amphetamine. While Adderall may be classified in the same high abuse potential group as medical narcotics, Adderall is not a narcotic among medical professionals.

Adderall as a legal narcotic

Legally, Adderall is classified as Schedule II drug. The Controlled Substances Act controls the legal status of Adderall and is enforced by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). While Adderall can be legally obtained by prescription, illegal possession of Adderall carries high penalties.

Why is Adderall a Schedule II narcotic drug?

Adderall, like other stimulants such as Ritalin and Concerta is classified under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule II drug. This indicates that Adderall does have a high abuse and dependence potential, and yet has valid medical uses. It should also be noted here that all legal narcotics like Adderall must be taken with a prescription. Schedule II drugs should be taken with close medical supervision to prevent drug addiction or possible misuse.   Is speed Adderall? No. Although chemically related, speed is stronger than Adderall.

Is Adderall addictive?

Research indicates that people with ADHD do not become addicted to stimulant medications when taken in the form and dosage prescribed. However, when abused, stimulants can be addictive.

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Adderall addiction is a very real consideration for anyone taking Adderall without medical supervision. This most likely occurs because stimulants, when taken in doses and routes other than prescribed by a doctor, can induce a rapid rise in dopamine in the brain. Furthermore, if stimulants are used chronically, withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep patterns can emerge when the drugs are discontinued.

Should Adderall narcotic classification change?

Since Adderall has no medical use as a pain reliever the criteria for narcotic classification cannot change. However, as a Schedule II drug, Adderall is restricted by the same legal requirements other addictive medications. So, it is in our opinion that reclassification of Adderall is not necessary, nor will it increase its safety. But what do you think?

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Adderall narcotic questions

Do you have additional questions about Adderall that we did not answer here? Please leave your questions, comments and opinions about Adderall as a narcotic here. We try to respond to all questions with a prompt and personal reply.

Reference Sources: NDIC fast facts on prescription drugs
DEA Schedule of narcotic drugs
NIDA Info facts on amphetamines
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.

12 Comments

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  1. Hi Cheyenne. Adderall is a stimulant like cocaine. When it’s used as prescribed, outcomes are therapeutic. However, long-term use of Adderall has not yet been studied clinically. So, sometimes the consequences can be negative.

    When people take Adderall for performance enhancement or to get high…the consequences are very much like cocaine: dependence, tolerance, and addiction can occur. Risk of cardiovascular events is also possible.

  2. Hello Ivana. Technically that’s not correct. According to DEA the Controlled Substances Act (21 USC §802) defines narcotic drug as (and I’ll simplify) opioids and cocaine, alone or combined with other substances, and the source material, be it plant sources or synthetic. see: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/21cfr/21usc/802.htm .

    Benzphetamine is certainly an amphetamine yet a page at DEA says: “Examples of Schedule IIIN non-narcotics include: benzphetamine…” see: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/ .
    States may use the term differently.

    The term narcotic tends to have pejorative connotations and some discourage its use.

    Hopefully our current administration won’t revert to imprisonment as the treatment for addiction. But they seem driven by tax cuts and hatred of Obamacare.

  3. I think this post adds to the confusion. Both medically and legally, Adderall is NOT a narcotic. Legally, however, Adderall is a schedule II controlled substance in the same category as narcotics but that’s where the similarities stop.

    Reason why workplaces do not allow narcotics have to do with their euphoric potential that is easily abused. Adderall does NOT cause euphoria because it does not bind to opioid receptors in the brain (because it is not an opioid or a narcotic). It simply increases amount of seratonin/dopamine available to your neurons.

    Best way I can explain it in layman’s term is that narcotics are consider “downers” they dull your senses to pain and everything around you, giving you that “euphoric” feeling that everything in the world is ok. Amphetamines on the other hand are stimulants and considered an “upper”– it heightens your senses so you take in more of the world around you.

    Adderall does show up as amphetamines but generally in low doses, you can get away with negative results after stopping adderall for 1-2 days. Meth shows up as methamphetamine. Labs can see the isomer isolated in the urine to identify if you’re on meth (illegal) vs amphetamines (legal).

    1. Hi Ellie. I believe you are half way right as the first definition of a narcotic is a drug (as opium or morphine) that in moderate doses dulls the senses, relieves pain, and induces profound sleep but in excessive doses causes stupor, coma, or convulsions.

      The second definition of the word “narcotic” is a drug (as marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine, or LSD ) subjected to restriction or Controlled Substance Act scheduling; a drug that affects the brain and that is usually dangerous and illegal.

  4. Would Adderall show up on a drug test as narcotic??
    I’m regularly drug tested at my job cannot take anything that would show up as narcotic or otherwise.

  5. I am trying to pas a NFPA physical, and i will fail if i “require chronic or frequent
    treatment
    with any of the following medications or classes of medications:
    (1) Narcotics, including methadone etc

    but i wont fail if its considered a stimulent.

    So my question is, in a physical examination, would adderall be considered as a stimulant or a narcotic and will i fail this physical because i take adderall.

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