Adderall Addiction and Treatment

Understanding This Medical Stimulant and Finding Recovery

Table of Contents

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medication commonly used to address symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Its generic name is dextroamphetamine-amphetamine for its two main ingriedients. These qualify as stimulants known to increase activity in the body, induce alertness, wakefulness, and increase speech and motor activity. Adderall is used to treat ADHD in children and adults, as well as sleeping disorders like narcolepsy.1

Drug Schedule

Adderall is a Schedule II drug. Schedule II drugs are substances or chemicals labeled to have a high tendency for overuse or physical dependence. Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine, along with Ritalin, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Demerol, and OxyContin, are other examples of Schedule II drugs.2

Stimulant Epidemic

Prescriptions of ADHD medications has risen dramatically in the past fifteen years, adding to the stimulant epidemic. Adderall abuse has climbed from roughly 350,000 in 2006 to 1.4 million in 2014, and over 87 million prescriptions for ADHD medications were written in 2015. In simpler terms, there is now enough Ritalin in production each year to provide every American a month’s supply.3

Street Names

Drugs like dextroamphetamine-amphetamine go by a slew of other names like:

  • addies
  • bennies
  • black beauties
  • crosses hearts
  • LA turnaround speed
  • truck drivers
  • uppers

Who Abuses Adderall & Rates of Adderall Abuse

Typical users of dextroamphetamine-amphetamine can be anyone. A younger population is more associated with the use of Adderall, including younger children up to college-age students. Numerous others use Adderall, like athletes, executives, and more. The main misuse of stimulants is by college students, with up to 43% of college students reporting misusing stimulants at least once in their lives.4 Although college students have used the drug to boost their academic performance, the drug has also been linked to athletics and has been banned from almost every major sports organization.

Drugs Similar to Adderall

Additional drugs are similar to dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, like Ritalin, Vyvanse, Dexedrine, and even some natural alternatives. Each drug provides a different form of stimulation.

Ritalin vs. Adderall

While Adderall delivers amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, Ritalin delivers methylphenidate. Both drugs are approved for treating ADHD and narcolepsy, work in similar ways, and have similar side effects. The primary difference between the two is that Ritalin moves faster and reaches its peak performance sooner than Adderall. At the same time, Adderall stays in the body longer.5

Vyvanse vs. Adderall

Vyvanse has similar properties to Adderall and is approved to treat patients with ADHD. However, Vyvanse is more commonly used to treat moderate to severe binge eating disorders in adults. Vyvanse has a lower overuse potential because of the way the body breaks down its chemicals. While Vyvanse has a lower overuse potential, it is a Schedule II drug along with Adderall.

Dexedrine vs. Adderall

Other drugs used to treat ADHD is Dexedrine. Dexedrine is very similar to Adderall other than its off-label use in the treatment of refractory obesity and its lower evidence of relief from ADHD symptoms.

Natural Alternatives

Natural alternatives for ADHD exist but take time to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Each individual has different ways of lowering their symptoms. Some natural alternatives to Adderall include meditation, aerobic exercise, supplements like Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, zinc, and magnesium and vitamin b6 supplementation.6

Is Adderall an Opioid?

No, Adderall is not an opioid. Opioids and stimulants are some of the most overused drugs in the United States. Whether a drug is a stimulant, depressant, or opioid, each has a role in treatment and for abuse. The human body uses its central nervous system (CNS) to regulate essential functions like blood pressure, breathing, heart, and temperature. Opiates depress the CNS, while amphetamines like Adderall speed the CNS up. When taken together, the body becomes extremely susceptible to overdose and adverse health impact.

Differences between Adderall and Opiates

Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine is a stimulant meant to energize activity in the body, enhancing concentration and reactions (a reason why Adderall is popular among athletes). Opioids are painkillers and prescribed to relieve intense pain. Opioids are commonly prescribed to patients with a recent surgical procedure. Depressants slow down the brain’s regular activity and are typically prescribed to relieve anxiety and some sleep problems. Depressants, when managed appropriately, can be useful in stress reduction and lower levels of anxiety.

Side Effects of Adderall

A doctor may recommend that an individual take prescription stimulants when the benefits outweigh the risks. Adderall side effects include:

  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • dry mouth
  • stomach upset or pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • nervousness
  • trouble sleeping

Adderall Overdose

Individuals may overuse dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, making overdose is a serious concern that can be heightened by other factors. Overdose on Adderall can become a significant concern depending on age, regular dosage, and if other substances were involved.7

Long-Term Effects and Overdose

Long-term effects of Adderall use may cause individuals to experience:

  • sleep difficulties
  • lack of motivation
  • difficulty concentrating
  • depression
  • irritability
  • lethargy
  • fatigue
  • aggression
  • thoughts of suicide

When dextroamphetamine-amphetamine is used long term, the brain’s chemical makeup can change and create dependence on the drug. If this occurs, the user may experience withdrawal and need to consult a doctor to plan for detox or tapering off the drug’s use.

How Long Does Adderall Stay in your System?

The effects of Adderall can wear off within 12 hours, but the drug stays in your system much longer. Adderall can show up on a urine test 72-96 hours after the last use and can be found in saliva and blood up to 50 hours.8

Treatment for Adderall Addiction

Treatment for dextroamphetamine-amphetamine addiction can include inpatient or outpatient options. Still, any treatment should be managed by a healthcare professional. A doctor should manage the withdrawal process and can make those symptoms better. Treatment steps can include referral or enrollment into a program, medical evaluations, tapering and management of symptoms, and counseling or behavioral therapy.


If you or a loved one needs help, please call us at
623-523-4748 and our team at Blueprints For Recovery in Arizona will help.

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