Is Adderall addictive?

YES. Adderall is highly addictive. And you can become addicted to Adderall even after prescription use. We review what Adderall is made of, and how you get addicted to Adderall here.

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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
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 wife was over weight and she started to work out but was low on energy. My ADHD son had a left over prescription of Adderall. My wife took some of his adderall and found that it made her feel energetic focused and cut down her will to eat she was now able to work 10 miles a day. She was able to go to a VA doctor and use her knowledge as a pharmaceutical tech to get her doctor and friend to write her for a prescription of adderall. My daughter noted her take 40mg then 4 hrs later another 4omg and then 4 hr later another 40mg. My wife has been diagnosed with bi-polar and boarderline personality traits. she was able to go from about 200lbs down to 120lbs using the adderall and keto diet in about 5 months. However since taking this medicine her mood has been very hostile and angry. She has started fights with several members of the family. She has become very paranoid. She does not sleep much stays up till 3 or 4 in the morning and then gets up at 6am. She has become a completely different person. there are times where she seems really out of it and slurs her speech or babbles in-coherently. With her current weight loss she thinks she is the hottest sexist 48 year old women in the world. She moved out of the house and has now become very sexually promiscuous and is on a self destructive coarse. How can I prove or verify that her strange behavior is a result of her use of Adderall? Also my young daughter was in the car with her and said that mom was driving like a drunk person. Can driving while under the heavy influence of adderall be as dangerous as drunk or sleep deprived driving? Is there a way to test for addiction?

  2. I’ve been taking 45mgs a day of IR tablets. I’m 53 years old and to be honest Adderall saved me from complete destruction. I check my Blood pressure at least once a week and have EKG once a year. Cardiovascular wise I’m fine Tip Top. I have been on it 5 years and never abused it once . What about the long term effect on your brain is we’re my concern comes in. I have noticed lately after my last dose about 4pm, (15mgs, I break the 30s from Barr IR on half) around 8 or 9 I feel like I’m staring at the walls and not being productive .Any input would be appreciated

  3. I must admit that I sometimes feel like I do much better on it than not. But I oftentimes forget to take it. I also skip doses because I am resting or I have no craving.

  4. I started using adderall 6 months ago. I have battled ADHD all my life and finally asked my doctor for some help to assist me in focusing for tasks and sports. He prescribed addersll in 10 mg. I now get the script for 20mg because some times I only need 10. I only use it maybe 2-4 days out of a week depending on my task for the day. It does not give me a high just helps me focus. I could stop taking it tomorrow but it really helps my focus so I would not like to stop but definitely not addicted. It has changed my life and am grateful for it. Oh did I mention I am 69 years old. Finally I can complete a task or perform in a sport and enjoy life but never felt high and not addicted.

  5. Is it safe to take Adderall 5 mg once a day if I’m nursing my two month old. My psychiatrist didn’t know if it was safe but prescribed it anyways. I’m looking for a definitely yes or no answer regarding this matter. If it does have the potential to impact my baby how long does it remain in the system before I can begin nursing again? Thank you,

  6. My grandson almost 21, in college, was prescribed aderal at his request. His parents were unaware. The father is very, very upset about it. He does not appear to be taking more than prescribed – in fact less. The purpose for taking it was to be able to concentrate to study. Is there something else he might could take less addictive? I have seen him more able to concentrate while taking it – but I don’t know all the repercussion and long term effects. He is taking 30 mg.

  7. Can adderol addiction and/or dependence cause your mouth to move without you knowing it? Staying open, moving strangely, etc.

  8. I am 24 years old working male. I am a qualified engineer from one of the best institution in my country and have a better IQ than most of my colleagues. I graduated a year before the usual age.

    I experience the following problems.

    1. Trouble sleeping at night – even when i am very sleepy and tired, it is hard to sleep. I usually watch tv or a movie while going to sleep. It helps me.

    2. It is hard for me to concentrate on things. e.g when i read i sometimes have to read the same thing 2 or 3 or 4 times to conclude a meaning out of it especially for long sentences.My concentration span is poor or abnormal.

    3. I cant remember stuff for long even if i try to memorize. Long term memory is very bad.

    4. It is hard for me to follow the tasks handed over to me. I have to take repeated help from the boss most of the time. I miss out obvious details in an assignment. I sometimes fail to see the things in front of me. For example i would be finding a pen on the table and it would be in front but i wouldnt be able to see. I think inattentiveness would summarize it.

    5. Its hard for me to consider all aspects of a particular situation. e.g like the pros and cons of particular thing.

    6. I cant think about one particular thing. When im doing something a thousand thoughts jump in and i end up thinking about them and the original task suffers.

    7. I tend to forget even whole events in life.

    8. I have to force myself to talk slower and clearly. Its like the words in my mind flow faster than my mouth can utter them

    All the things i have mentioned have made me loose my self confidence quite a bit. I feel less confident and dont perform upto my expectation or upto any ones expectations. I have suffered a lot because of my carelessness as well. I hope i have made my situation

    Do i have ADHD? Should i take adderall? if yes then what dose? If not then what should i do?

  9. 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?

  10. 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

  11. 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)

  12. 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!

  13. 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:

  14. 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?

  15. 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?

  16. 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.

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