Adderall is a prescription stimulant medication formulated with a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Approved medical uses for Adderall include the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy in both pediatric and adult populations.1
The United States Drug Enforcement Agency categorizes Adderall as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that, despite their utility in the treatment of certain medical or psychological conditions, they also have a high potential for abuse which can lead to severe physical or psychological dependence.2
Adderall Abuse, Dependence, and Withdrawal
Studies have indicated that individuals who use stimulant medications as prescribed for ADHD while under the care of a physician or other medical professional are at no increased risk of developing a substance use disorder at a later time.3 That being said, stimulant drugs like Adderall are not only widely prescribed, they are common targets for diversion and nonmedical misuse. And it is this type of misuse, often in doses that exceed prescription dosing parameters, that can greatly increase the risk of serious detrimental health effects including addiction development.4,5
Prescription stimulant drugs like Adderall are sometimes misused by high school and college students looking to achieve greater energy and focus for long periods of study or to otherwise boost performance.5 Other forms of nonmedical abuse, in some instances, involves attempts at snorting or injecting the contents of the tablets intended for oral use.6
No matter the route of administration (e.g., oral, nasal, injected), stimulants like Adderall have the potential to lead to significant tolerance and physiological dependence, especially when used consistently at higher-than-recommended doses. Some tolerance to therapeutic doses of stimulant drugs is expected; however, patterns of misuse might result in even more rapidly developing tolerance, which often leads to escalating use. As individuals need to use more and more of the drug to get the same type of effects they got at lower doses, they also increase the likelihood of significant dependence and, therefore, the risk of withdrawal should the drug be abruptly stopped.5
Acute Stimulant Withdrawal
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