Adderall Side Effects: Side Effects of Long-Term Use

Adderall Abuse Signs

Is Adderall Addictive?

Adderal is a mixture of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. The mixture has effects distinct from either form alone. It is a stimulant in the Central Nervous system and a chemical of the class phenylethylamine. As a drug of abuse, it can cause a sense of euphoria, concentration, and confidence. As a medication, it is used to treat ADHD and to maintain alertness in conditions like narcolepsy. I can fight fatigue, improve concentration, and increase alertness.

adderall side effects

Adderall can cause changes in sexual interest and ability, and an increase in confidence, euphoria, and alertness. It can increase strength, speed, and reaction time and is therefore sometimes used as a doping agent in sports. Larger doses can cause panic attacks, psychosis, muscle breakdown, paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. Dextroamphetamine is the stronger of the two amphetamine salts, but levoamphetamine has more physical effects on the heart and muscles and lasts longer in effects on the body. In 2017, Americans logged 24 million Adderall prescriptions.

Low doses of Adderall and other amphetamines used for ADHD have not been shown to cause addiction. Abuse of larger doses can be addictive.


What is the drug Adderall used for?

Adderall is used as a treatment for childhood ADHD, adult ADHD, and narcolepsy. It works as a stimulant by raising levels of noradrenaline and dopamine.

It can enhance mental performance, reaction time, physical performance in sports, and it is used recreationally. It may increase sexual interest, but often decreases sexual ability in males.

In persons with ADHD who use Adderall as prescribed, Adderall reduces impulsivity, improves concentration, and improves the quality of life without nasty side effects.

How long do Adderall effects last?

The effects of immediate-release Adderall last 4 to 6 hours. The effects of the ER version will last the full amount of waking hours.

Can Adderall cause anxiety?

Like any stimulant, Adderall can cause anxiety in susceptible persons.

Do doctors use Adderall for opiate withdrawal symptoms?

No. Adderall can itself be abused and is not commonly used for opioid withdrawal symptoms as it may exacerbate the problem.

Short-term & Long-term Side Effects of ADHD medications for adults and children

These are the short-term side effects of Adderall in children:

  • Abnormal feeling
  • Aggression
  • Increased body temperature
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss

Short-term Side effects in Adults

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Increased body temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • Disordered sleep
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • irritability
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Tachycardia

Note: Taken at prescribed medical doses, Adderall is well tolerated with few side effects.

Symptoms of taking too much Adderall (overdose)

  1. Any of the symptoms listed above
  2. Aggression
  3. Fever
  4. Amphetamine Psychosis (hallucinations lasting till the drug is out of the system and extending into 1 or 2 days after discontinuation)
  5. Breathing fast, out of breath
  6. Confusion
  7. Diarrhea
  8. Fast speech
  9. Fever
  10. Grandiosity
  11. Heart pounding
  12. High or low blood pressure
  13. Hyperactivity
  14. Irritability
  15. Nausea
  16. OCD like behaviors
  17. Spasms
  18. Stomach pains
  19. Tremors
  20. Twitching
  21. Vomiting

Effects of Adderall on the brain, heart, mood and libido: with long-term abuse

adderall effects

Weight loss

Long-term abuse can lead to weight loss. Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant and therefore burns fat. Persons with Adderall Addiction may also forgo meals or stop taking care of their health and therefore lose weight. They may become skinny and skeletal in appearance, similar to persons with methamphetamine addiction.

Tolerance, dependence, abuse, addiction, diversion

Daily use of higher than prescribed doses of Adderall can cause tolerance to develop in under a month. Higher dosages will be needed to get the same effect. The user may then become dependent on the drug or addicted to it.

Studies indicate 10 percent of children in grades 7 to 12 have used stimulants prescribed to someone else suggesting ADHD medications are diverted at high rates. 11% of adolescent and grown-up persons with ADHD admitted to having sold medication. 22 % have admitted to having taken larger doses than their doctor has prescribed.

Growth suppression in children

3 Studies presented in the article “ADHD update: New data on the risks of medication” from the Harvard Mental Health Letter reveals children who took Adderall continuously were around up to half an inch shorter and up to 8 lbs lighter than their peers.

adderall withdrawal

Permanent alterations in brain metabolism

Scientists are still studying if Adderall causes permanent alterations in the brain. It may increase levels of the dopamine transporter in the brain. The significance of this is unknown.

Cardiovascular complications

Studies do not show a cardiovascular risk in children, however, adults over 55 with previous cardiovascular conditions are increasingly prescribed ADHD medications and are at greater risk of cardiac events when using amphetamines.

adderall abuse

Methods of Adderall Abuse

By Mouth

A pill of Adderall is usually taken by mouth in pill form in a higher than prescribed dosage by a person with Adderall addiction.


Some users get bored with taking the pills by mouth and snort them to get a better rush. This can give a rush similar to snorting methamphetamine. The drug itself and fillers in the drug can greatly burn nasal passages and in the long term cause nasal collapse.


Some users put the pill in a light bulb, light it, and smoke the fumes out with a drinking straw. This gives a high similar to smoking methamphetamine and may last 24 hours or more and be more potent than eating or snorting the drug. Inhalation of the fillers in the pill can cause allergic reactions in the chest or the sudden hit of the drug can cause strain on the heart.


Some users break down the pills and inject them. Doing this provides less of an initial rush according to some users, but causes a far greater euphoria. The potency of injection can lead to symptoms such as heart attack, severe mental and physical dependence and addiction, and amphetamine hallucinations which last until the drug leaves the system, and 24 to 48 hours more. This is what leads to strange behavior in methamphetamine users. Snorting, smoking, and injecting Adderall has been shown in some studies to be indistinguishable from using methamphetamine by the same routes of administration in seasoned users.

Withdrawal Symptoms From Long Term Adderall Addiction

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleeping all the time
  • Intense hunger
  • Jerking and twitches
  • Moving slow
  • Lethargy
  • Pain and aches
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Depression

Psychiatric Side Effects

The psychiatric side effects of heroin withdrawal are what keep many persons with addiction tethered to the drug. The withdrawal is sometimes terrifying to users. The fear and terror that come with the withdrawal are not due to the physical flu-like symptoms being experienced but are a direct result of the withdrawal itself. It can cause repetitive behaviors, emotional mood swings, strange phantom sensations, paranoia, panic attacks, intense sadness, and feeling as if one is starving to death. Many people will do very desperate things to avoid these frightening and depressing sensations.  Women may turn to prostitution. Mothers may neglect their children. Men may resort to robbing and stealing. Users may harm their family members and steal from employers. Doctors and nurses with heroin addictions may steal opioid medication. Employment and relationships suffer. The person with addiction may end up homeless and having burned all their bridges. They may threaten, attempt, or complete suicide.

Adderall Withdrawal And Detox Treatment Programs

Addiction to Adderall is amphetamine addiction. There are many treatment programs available.

Residential treatment:

In residential treatment programs, the patient gets treatment from counselors while living in the treatment complex. They may be set up in an apartment complex or in an isolated ranch, depending on the resources available to the program and how much the person with addiction can afford to pay. These programs may include Narcotics Anonymous meetings as day treatment, individual sessions with a counselor, and psychiatric consultations with a therapist or psychiatrist to determine if drug treatments are needed.

Outpatient treatment:

Some persons may go to a private doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist for the management of amphetamine dependence. Therapists may use techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy and delve into any traumas that may be affecting the client’s mental health. These may be weekly sessions where the patient can come and go of their own free will. It will not have the structure and restrictions of in-patient treatment.

Medications for Adderall withdrawal

There are currently no medications approved for Adderall withdrawal. Some which are being investigated include the following:


Modafinil is a stimulant that increases levels of a chemical called histamine in the brain. This in turn increases blood flow, and endogenous stimulating neurotransmitters like dopamine and noradrenaline, improving alertness and wakefulness. Modafinil is used as a treatment for narcolepsy. Some researchers hope it can be used as a way of replacing amphetamines in the brain and halting amphetamine withdrawal.


Bupropion is a stimulant-like antidepressant commonly known as Welbutrin. It can help address the depression and low energy of stimulant withdrawal.


Propranolol is a beta-blocker that may reduce anxiety and decrease sensitivity to the effects of stimulants.

How to avoid withdrawal from Adderall

Amphetamine withdrawal can be avoided by not taking larger than prescribed doses of Adderall. Also, other ADHD medications may be substituted, such as atomoxetine, and guanfacine. If you need help with amphetamine addiction, tell your doctor and get treatment.

Disclaimer: We are not dispensing medical advice. The information on this site is not encouraging you to take any medication without your doctor’s prescription.


1.  “ADHD update: New data on the risks of medication – Harvard Health.” Accessed 5 Feb. 2021.

2. “The Search for Medications to Treat Stimulant Dependence.” Accessed 5 Feb. 2021.