Label on Adderall prescription bottle that lists out warnings and side effects

Understanding Adderall Side Effects

Adderall is a prescription stimulant medication that combines dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It is typically prescribed to people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to help mitigate short attention span, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity. Adderall may also be prescribed to treat narcolepsy.

Adderall is a brand-name medication that’s classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant and a schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Schedule II substances have a high potential for misuse and dependence.

When taken as prescribed, Adderall can be effective at reducing the symptoms related to ADHD. However, are potential Adderall side effects that you should be aware of if you’re considering it as a treatment option.

The Most Common Adderall Side Effects

Woman holding a glass of water touches stomach with pained expression on her face

Prescription stimulants like Adderall generally help to increase attention span, energy, and alertness but can have side effects, even when taken as prescribed.

People taking Adderall as prescribed can feel a “rush” of euphoria in addition to the following common short-term side effects of Adderall and other prescription stimulants:

  • Stomach ache
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Decreased sex drive

If any of these side effects persist or worsen, you should contact your doctor.

Remember: It’s important that Adderall be taken under the care of a physician and at the prescribed dose because there is potential for dependence and misuse.

Potentially Serious Side Effects of Adderall

Amphetamines like Adderall can produce more serious effects that impact blood pressure and heart rate; however, when taken as prescribed, these effects are typically mild. If a person misuses Adderall in higher doses or has a bad reaction to the drug, it can put them at greater risk of experiencing adverse health effects like:

  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Dangerously high heart rate and blood pressure
  • Seizures (typically in people who have a history of seizures)
  • Heart failure
  • Changes in eyesight or blurred vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Mental health effects like paranoia, agitation, hallucinations, and psychosis
  • Depression
  • Serotonin syndrome

If you or a loved one are experiencing these more serious side effects of Adderall, contact your doctor immediately.

If you feel that you are misusing Adderall, you may want to consider addiction treatment options.

Can You Overdose on Adderall?

Yes, a person can overdose on prescription stimulants like Adderall. An Adderall overdose happens when a person takes enough of the prescription stimulant to result in potentially life-threatening effects or even death. The signs of a prescription stimulant overdose are:

  • Restlessness.
  • Tremors.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Overactive reflexes.
  • Aggression.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Confusion.
  • Muscle pain and weakness.

If you believe someone is experiencing an Adderall overdose, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Is Adderall Addictive?

Yes, Adderall does have the potential for dependence, which can lead to a stimulant use disorder, the diagnostic term for Adderall addiction. This is not a side effect, but a potential health effect resulting from long-term Adderall misuse.

A person who uses Adderall for long periods can develop tolerance to it, which means they feel they need more of the drug, and more frequently to attain the same desired effects. This can lead to misuse. The following criteria from the Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition are used by doctors to help determine if someone has a stimulant use disorder:

  • Taking stimulants in larger amounts or over longer periods of time than intended
  • Desire to cut down or quit stimulants, but unsuccessful at doing so
  • Spending significant time engaging in activities to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of stimulants like Adderall
  • Having prescription stimulant cravings or a strong desire to use stimulants like Adderall
  • Inability to meet obligations because of recurrent stimulant use
  • Continued use of stimulants even when experiencing negative effects related to social or interpersonal relationships
  • Choosing to give up important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of stimulant use
  • Using stimulants even in physically dangerous situations like driving a car or operating machinery
  • Continued use of stimulants when having recurrent physical or psychological challenges
  • Developing a tolerance to stimulants
  • Developing a physiological dependence, which is when a person develops withdrawal symptoms after quitting or significantly reducing stimulant use

Managing Adderall Side Effects

Young woman talks to her doctor about managing Adderall side effects

If you are experiencing short- or long-term side effects of Adderall that are negatively impacting your life, you should talk to your doctor about your options. If you are misusing Adderall (taking it in a way other than prescribed) and experiencing side effects or other health effects, you may consider seeking support to help you quit Adderall.

The following list includes several ways your doctor may assist you in lessening the side effects of Adderall. It’s important to consult your doctor before adjusting medications, dosages, or stopping Adderall:

  • Choose a dose that’s age appropriate: Adderall is often prescribed to children and adolescents so it’s important you or the person taking Adderall are receiving proper dosage.
  • Gradually increase dose: With the supervision of your doctor, consider gradually increasing the dose of Adderall to reach desired benefits with fewer side effects.
  • Eat before taking your medication: If you’re experiencing side effects like stomach aches or nausea, it may help to take Adderall with food.
  • Consider changing medications: There are other generic and brand-name medications prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. If you experience Adderall side effects, ask your doctor about other medications.
  • Consult with your doctor regularly: If you are taking Adderall or any other prescription medications, you should see your doctor regularly to monitor your physical health and psychological wellbeing. If there are significant changes in your health or side effects, your doctor can help you make decisions about your medication.

Responsible Adderall Use

Since Adderall does carry the potential for dependence and addiction, it’s important to engage in responsible Adderall use under the care of a doctor. The following tips can help you safely and responsibly take Adderall:

  • Only take as prescribed by your doctor. Don’t take a larger dose, more often, or longer than planned—this type of misuse can lead to dependence and stimulant use disorder.
  • Be transparent with your doctor about previous substance use. This includes substance use by you and those you live with. People with a history of substance misuse may not be good candidates for taking Adderall or having it around others who could potentially misuse or divert the drug.
  • Do not stop taking Adderall without consulting your doctor. If you try to stop taking Adderall or other prescription stimulants due to side effects, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, sleep issues, or depression. It’s important to always consult your doctor before stopping any medication to prevent withdrawal symptoms or other adverse effects.
  • Keep Adderall in a safe place and keep track of how much has been used. Adderall is a commonly diverted drug for misuse or sale and should only be used as prescribed.

Get Help for Adderall Side Effects and Addiction

If you or a loved one are struggling with Adderall misuse or side effects related to misuse, it may be time to get help. You don’t have to quit alone. Help is available.

Here at Legacy Healing Center, we take a holistic approach to treatment, focusing on the mind, body, and spirit. With the right mix of clinical therapy, medication management, and aftercare, you can start on your path to living a healthy, balanced life.

Call 888-534-2295 today to speak with a staff member about Adderall addiction treatment today.

Adderall Side Effects FAQs

What are the most common side effects of taking Adderall?

The most common Adderall side effects include stomach aches, decreased appetite, nervousness, and rapid breathing.

Are there any long-term side effects of Adderall use?

The most common long-term effects of Adderall include heart problems, mental health issues, and the potential for dependence and misuse.

What are Adderall withdrawal symptoms?

Common prescription stimulant withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, depression, and sleep issues.

How can I manage Adderall side effects?

If you experience side effects related to Adderall use, talk to your doctor about your options for changing dosage or medications to better treat ADHD.

Sources

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019). Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine.
  2. Sharbaf Shoar N, Marwaha R, Molla M. Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine. (2022, May 29).
  3. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Prescription Stimulants Drug Facts.
  5. Food and Drug Administration. (2017, January). Adderall CII (Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, Amphetamine Aspartate, Dextroamphetamine Sulfate and Amphetamine Sulfate Tablets).
  6. Stimulant Related Disorders. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
  7. Wolraich ML, Hagan JF, Allan C, et al. Clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescentsPediatrics. 2019;144(4). doi:10.1542/peds.2019-25
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About the Author

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Dr. Edwin Gomez, M.D.

Edwin Gomez, M.D. joined the Legacy Healing Centers Medical Team in 2021. In addition to working at Legacy Healing Centers, Dr. Gomez operates a private practice and research here in the South Florida Area and the Florida Keys. Prior to joining Legacy Healing Center, he served as Medical Dire...