All too commonly, Adderall is utilized by college students, young professionals, or athletes to increase alertness and productivity. This medication even has a reputation among many youths as a helpful study aid by boosting energy, increasing focus, and improving stamina. To many young professionals and college students, this drug seems like the best option for late-night cramming for exams or boosting energy to be more productive after work hours. Consequently, Adderall is increasingly being abused on college campuses, possibly even reaching an epidemic-size drug crisis if the numbers continue to rise.

While many people think Adderall is relatively harmless, especially because it is prescribed by doctors to children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), the unfortunate reality is that Adderall is extremely dangerous to the user, especially when taken more than prescribed or used recreationally. This medication’s addictive nature has a similar stimulant effect to methamphetamine. Adderall’s extremely potent stimulant effect can even lead to potentially deadly side effects for the user. 

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With such risks at hand, it is vital that before one indulges in Adderall for reasons other than prescribed by a doctor, who understand the implications and long-term side effects that Adderall addiction can cause and the withdrawal symptoms experienced when detoxing off Adderall. Furthermore, if Adderall addiction is already at play, finding the right treatment facility to help you safely detox off Adderall is essential in securing successful long-term sobriety. 

Long-Term Effects of Adderall Addiction

Adderall increases the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. Dopamine, the “feel good” neurotransmitter in the brain, creates a pleasure/rewarding sensation for the user. On the other hand, norepinephrine affects how the brain responds to external stimuli, particularly how well it pays attention and how fast it responds to the environment. With the increase in both neurotransmitters, the user is at increased risk of developing an addiction.

As previously mentioned, many people assume Adderall is safe because children often take it with ADHD. However, this could not be further from the truth, especially when Adderall is abused recreationally. Adderall is an amphetamine, and amphetamines are highly addictive substances. The side effects of abusing such drugs can be extremely dangerous to the user. Overdose can lead to heart attack, stroke, and liver failure. Furthermore, if taken with other substances, like alcohol, the user’s chance of fatality increases significantly.

Initially, Adderall has short-term side effects such as: 

  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Digestive issues
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Loss of motivation
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns
  • Racing heart
  • Lethargy 
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If abused long-term, Adderall can cause the brain’s chemical equilibrium to be severely disrupted.

The long-term side effects of abusing Adderall include:

  • Paranoia
  • Manic episodes
  • Severe weight loss
  • Chronic respiratory distress
  • Vision problems
  • Skin problems (hives, rashes, blisters)
  • Dizziness
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Unprovoked and uncharacteristic aggressiveness
  • Hallucinations
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Death from overdose or combining it with other substances, like alcohol or opioids

Because an untreated addiction to Adderall is life-threatening, it must be approached as a serious matter. As such, if you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to Adderall, seeking professional medical help immediately is necessary to prevent these life-threatening conditions.

Withdrawal Symptoms and Side Effects of Long-Term Adderall Addiction

Using Adderall for prolonged periods can cause a dependence on the medication, as the brain stops functioning normally and loses its ability to manufacture neurotransmitters independently. This forces the user to take more Adderall to feel “functional.” Unfortunately, as the user increases the dosage on Adderall, withdrawal symptoms from detoxing from Adderall become more intense and possibly severe.

Some common Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression, irritability, or mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping/insomnia
  • Lethargy/fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling intoxicated or hungover 
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Withdrawal symptoms typically show up a day or two after the last dosage of Adderall was taken and may last a few days to several weeks depending on the severity of the addiction (how much was abused and for how long). Other factors such as your genetic composition, health history, and family history of addiction can determine how intense withdrawal symptoms are experienced.

Because withdrawal symptoms can be intense or even severe to the user, it’s important not to try to detox off Adderall “cold turkey” or independently from the help of a trained medical professional. Furthermore, psychological withdrawal symptoms, including depression and mood swings, may last significantly longer. As such, one must seek the help of a therapist specializing in addiction while detoxing, especially if there are thoughts of suicide at hand.

Getting Help with the Withdrawal Symptoms from Long-Term Adderall Addiction

Because Adderall abuse is extremely dangerous, the user must seek the help of a medical professional or inpatient/intensive outpatient drug rehab when deciding to detox off the medication. Going to an inpatient/intensive outpatient drug facility will ensure the user safely detoxes off Adderall to avoid any potentially severe withdrawal symptoms. In addition, attending an inpatient drug rehab facility is typically the best route for someone with a history of abusing drugs or a severe addiction to Adderall because it provides a safe, temptation-free environment without the distractions and influences of the outside world.

Furthermore, attending a drug rehab facility with addiction-specialist therapists on staff and 12-step meeting programs will provide the user the greatest chance of successful long-term sobriety by getting to the root of why Adderall was being abused in the first place. This is especially helpful to ensure that unhealthy coping mechanisms are not utilized once treatment leaves and healthier, new coping mechanisms are instilled. 

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The time to get help is now. Please do not delay seeking treatment if you or a loved one suffers from an addiction to Adderall. The sooner treatment is sought, the sooner the path to recovery can begin. So if you or your loved one are seeking detox, inpatient rehab, or reach out today, and a friendly enrollment advisor can guide you to the drug-free life you’ve always dreamed about.

Sources:

Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. Web MD. Adderall Oral: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing – WebMD. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-63163/adderall-oral/details
  2. Durbin K. Adderall: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Safety Info. Drugs.com. Published May 23, 2022. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://www.drugs.com/adderall.html
  3. Osborn CO. How Long Does Withdrawal From Adderall Last? Verywell Mind. Published July 30, 2021. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/adderall-withdrawal-symptoms-timeline-and-treatment-4177486
Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed June 24, 2022

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