Adderall (dextroamphetamine sulfate) is a central nervous system stimulant used primarily to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It works by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. A common side effect of Adderall use is fatigue or drowsiness. Some users report feeling “stoned” while taking it, which may cause them to act impulsively and behave erratically.
What Is Adderall Used For?
Adderall is most commonly prescribed for ADHD, but it’s been found useful in other conditions such as:
Alzheimer’s disease (Aldacere et al., 2008; Biederman et al., 2011)
Depression (Biederman et al. 2012)
Glaucoma (Hoffman et al., 2007; Kishore and D’Souza, 2010)
Hyperkinetic disorder (Kishore et al., 2009; Srinivasan et al., 2013)
Parkinson’s disease (Diaz-Lopez et al., 2014)
How Do People Use Adderall?
Adderall comes in several different forms. It can be obtained in immediate-release tablet form, extended-release tablet form, or as a liquid solution. Tablets usually come in 5 or 10 mg dosages, and liquid Adderall is commonly available in 2.5 mg per milliliter doses. Users can adjust the dosage to find the smallest amount that will produce the desired effect. For example, if a 5 mg tablet is too strong, some users may split it in half to produce a 2.5 mg dose. Some people crush and snort the tablets to minimize the number of tablets needed to achieve the desired effect.
How Does Adderall Work?
Adderall is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. It works by stimulating dopamine and norepinephrine production in the brain, which leads to increased attention span and wakefulness.
How Long Does Adderall Stay In Your System?
The length of time that Adderall stays in your system depends on a variety of factors, including your weight, age, health, and how you take it. It’s mostly metabolized in the liver, and urine pH, urinary flow, catabolism, and renal function all affect its clearance. Adderall has a short half-life of approximately 3 to 5 hours.
What Are The Adverse Effects Of Adderall?
Adverse effects of Adderall use may include:
Nausea (Faraone et al. 2013)
Vomiting (Faraone et al. 2013)
Diarrhea (Faraone et al. 2013)
Dry Mouth (Faraone et al. 2013)
Stomach Pain (Faraone et al. 2013)
Decreased Appetite (Faraone et al. 2013)
Insomnia (Faraone et al. 2013)
Dizziness (Faraone et al. 2013)
Anxiety (Faraone et al. 2013)
Tremors (Faraone et al. 2013)
Headache (Faraone et al. 2013)
Restlessness (Faraone et al. 2013)
Irritability (Faraone et al. 2013)
Depression (Faraone et al. 2013)
Aggression (Faraone et al. 2013)
Psychosis, in susceptible individuals (Faraone et al. 2013)
Severe allergic reactions (Faraone et al. 2013)
Blurred vision (Faraone et al. 2013)
Seizures (Faraone et al. 2013)
Heart failure (Faraone et al. 2013)
Breathing difficulties (Faraone et al. 2013)
Paranoia (Faraone et al. 2013)
Numbness (Faraone et al. 2013)
Tingling (Faraone et al. 2013)
Stiffness (Faraone et al. 2013)
Vertigo (Faraone et al. 2013)
How Do You Get Addicted To Adderall?
Addiction occurs when a person has debilitating cravings for Adderall, and when the person is unable to meet their needs in any meaningful way other than through Adderall use.
The signs of Adderall addiction include:
Continued use despite negative effects on your life
Spending a large amount of time obtaining Adderall or taking it
Spending a large amount of time processing it (such as melting it down) or preparing it for injection
Lying to your doctor to obtain more
Spending a large amount of time thinking about taking it
Needing to take more to achieve the desired effect
Taking it to avoid withdrawal symptoms
Going to increasing dark areas of the web in order to obtain it
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
Some of the common symptoms of Adderall withdrawal include:
Agitation or inability to sit still
Fatigue, excessive sleeping
Lack of energy, lack of motivation
Anxiety or panic attacks
Appetite changes, weight loss or weight gain
Dizziness, headaches, or other physical symptoms
Did You Know?
The “Crank” High: Smoking Adderall
Some people have found another use for Adderall that’s less common than either taking it orally or crushing it and snorting it. A small number of people have found that they can smoke the drug to achieve a different kind of high. Adderall is an inhalant, and the experience of smoking it is very different from the experience of taking it in any other way.
When you smoke it, the effects hit you very quickly and last much less time than they do when you take or snort the drug.
The smoking of Adderall is uncommon due to how easy it is to get more from taking or snorting it, but it’s out there. If you’re going to try this, be careful!
What Does Adderall Do To You?
Adderall is a psychostimulant with effects similar to cocaine or amphetamines. For this reason, it’s primarily used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It enhances the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which in turn leads to increases in cerebral blood flow and an increase in activity in the central nervous system.
Adderall is composed of a mixture of four different amphetamines: dextroamphetamine, levoamphetamine, dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. The proportions are approximately equal in their neutral state (equaling out to be around 75% dextroamphetamine and 25% levoamphetamine), but the mixture that’s released into your body varies from pill to pill. Some are more or less pure than others, so some will have stronger effects than others and some will produce faster results than others.
Adderall is broken down by the enzymes located in the liver. It’s excreted by the kidneys and, to a lesser extent, the lungs.
Adderall’s Effects On Your Body And Mind
The effects of Adderall are wide-ranging and last from three to six hours depending on what you take. It can help you to stay awake for longer periods of time, but many people use it to help them to focus better on certain tasks while blocking out distractions. It’s useful for studying and for people who work in high-pressure jobs that require long periods of concentration or attention to detail.
Adderall is a powerful stimulant. It increases your ability to concentrate and promotes wakefulness. It’s also a mood-booster and can increase your energy levels, and it reduces your desire to sleep.
It can suppress your appetite as well. It increases the levels of dopamine in your body and decreases the levels of a chemical called gama aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Adderall’s Side Effects
Like any powerful drug, Adderall does have its share of side effects. Most of these are minor and will either pass once your body adjusts to the drug or can be combated with other, safer drugs. Some of them are dangerous and can have lasting effects on your health if you don’t take steps to counteract their effects.
Common minor side effects include:
Nausea or vomiting
Irritability or hostility
Anxiety or depression
There are more serious potential side effects as well. Adderall is a strong stimulant, and it can increase your heart rate and blood pressure to dangerous levels. It can also make you feel anxious or paranoid, and it has a high potential for abuse and dependence.
It can cause damage to your liver and kidneys as well.
An overdose of Adderall generally stems from improper use of the drug. It’s very important to wait an appropriate amount of time before taking another pill. Taking more than one pill at a time, or taking a pill and then taking another later, will significantly increase the risk that you’ll overdose.
Snorting the pills rather than taking them orally can also lead to a serious overdose that can cause sudden heart failure.
Overdosing on Adderall can cause a number of serious symptoms, including:
Nausea and vomiting
Abnormal heart rhythms
Aggression and hostility
Loss of consciousness
What To Do If You Overdose
If you suspect that you’ve overdosed, you need to get to the emergency room right away. Take someone with you or call 911 so that help can be on the way. If you’re alone, you can try taking a dose of activated carbon, which can be taken orally or rectally.
This should help block the toxins from Adderall that are causing your overdose.
Withdrawal from Adderall isn’t life-threatening, but it can be dangerous. It also doesn’t happen instantly, you can’t just stop taking the drug and walk away. Withdrawal symptoms start within a few hours of your last dose and can last for several days.
These symptoms can include depression, extreme fatigue and a general lack of energy, negative moods, and trouble thinking clearly.
Adderall is a powerful drug that can be dangerous when not taken as prescribed. It’s important to know these risks and the potential side effects so that you can minimize those risks and make an informed decision about whether or not this is the right drug for you. Always talk to your doctor about the potential side effects of any medication before you start taking it, and make sure you know how to handle a potential overdose.
Sources & references used in this article:
Brain gain by M Talbot – The New Yorker, 2009 – ewahess.ch
“Adderall is definitely not a drug”: justifications for the illegal use of ADHD stimulants by AD DeSantis, AC Hane – Substance use & misuse, 2010 – Taylor & Francis
A comparison of Ritalin and Adderall: efficacy and time-course in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder by WE Pelham, HR Aronoff, JK Midlam, CJ Shapiro… – Pediatrics, 1999 – Am Acad Pediatrics
Illicit use of prescribed stimulant medication among college students by KM Hall, MM Irwin, KA Bowman… – Journal of American …, 2005 – Taylor & Francis