One of the fastest-growing problem areas of substance abuse is the misuse of prescription drugs. Adderall is commonly prescribed as a treatment for ADHD and narcolepsy in the US.

It is also commonly misused for its stimulant effects. As it is amphetamine-based it can produce a strong ‘buzz’, which can be more noticeable in those who do not have ADHD or are using the drug in ways other than prescribed.

Students and young professionals often use the drug to improve concentration and cognitive abilities in the short term for studying or work. Adderall and other ADHD medications can also provide an advantage in sports, leading to them being considered banned substances.

Adderall is not generally available in the UK as it is not a licensed medication in this country. It is similar in its effects to Ritalin, however, and can be found on the black market. In the UK, Adderall is a class B substance. Penalties for unlawful possession and supply can potentially be 5 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine, and up to 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine respectively.


Is Adderall Addictive?

Adderall is an amphetamine-based stimulant and can be addictive if misused. It is not fully understood what causes ADHD – or exactly how medications like Adderall help – but it is thought that people with ADHD may have an imbalance of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

You might have heard of dopamine as the ‘feel good’ chemical while low levels of the neurotransmitter hormone norepinephrine have been linked to depression as well as ADHD.

Adderall causes the brain to release more of these chemicals, which is believed to help increase attention, concentration and the ability to focus. It can be beneficial for some people but should only ever be used as directed.

If people who are prescribed the drug use too much, it can overload the system with too many chemicals. The same goes for people using the drug who do not have ADHD, as their brain chemistry is different and (unless there is another factor) should already have higher levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. This can lead to feelings of excess energy and euphoria, which people can become psychologically hooked on.

At the same time, continued use of the drug can lead the system to become used to the chemicals it produces. When they are suddenly removed or reduced, you may experience a range of withdrawal symptoms.

This can make it difficult to stop using the drug – whether it was initially prescribed or recreational – leading the user to seek out more Adderall or alternative amphetamines and related drugs.


Symptoms of Adderall Addiction

There are certain signs and symptoms that might suggest an addiction to Adderall.

These include:

  • Taking more of the drug to get the same effect
  • Feeling anxious when you do not have it
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (see below) when you do not use the drug
  • Intense cravings
  • Taking risks or continuing to use the drug despite negative consequences
  • Feeling agitated, having too much nervous energy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Irregular heartbeat


What are Common Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms?

There are a number of potential side effects from taking Adderall. These can potentially affect anyone who uses the drug but can be more likely or more dangerous when it is used recreationally or in doses other than prescribed.

Potential side effects include:

  • Rise in blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Fast breathing and heart rate
  • Muscle pain and weakness
  • Tremors and restlessness
  • Intense anger
  • Psychosis (believing, seeing, or hearing things that aren’t real)

Withdrawal symptoms can occur when people who are dependent on the drug suddenly stop or drastically reduce their use of it.

These can vary from person to person depending on the duration and heaviness of usage and other factors and circumstances.

Some recognised Adderall withdrawal symptoms, however, could include:

  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Fast heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Panic attacks
  • Blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Paranoia
  • Dry mouth
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Depression


Treatment for Adderall Addiction

If you have an addiction to Adderall or any amphetamine-based stimulant, it is not advised that you suddenly stop taking the drug without first seeking expert advice. The withdrawal symptoms could potentially be dangerous, which is why it is always better to come off the drug in a controlled and supervised manner.

Your GP or other clinicians may advise a stepped reduction in using the drug – although this is more applicable to people using the drug on prescription outside the UK.

There are tried and tested, evidence-based ways to treat any kind of addiction, however, including prescription drugs like Adderall.

The NHS offers community or outpatient-based drug and alcohol services, which can be valuable, especially for less severe substance abuse issues. For more severe addictions, you might want to consider an inpatient rehab programme as this has a number of benefits over the alternatives.

For a start, you will be in a safe and secure environment where you can really focus on your recovery, away from the triggers, temptations and stresses of your everyday life. Crucially, you will be able to undergo a supervised detox with access to medical care where needed and expert support to get through this challenging time.

Detox is the time during and after your body expels the drugs already in your system and is when you may start to experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

You will also undergo a holistic programme of therapies and other treatments aimed at addressing the psychological aspects of addiction and providing you with the knowledge and tools you need to remain free from drugs after you leave.

Contact Ocean Recovery

If you believe you or a loved one may have a problem with Adderall or any other substance, it always pays to get help as soon as you can. Contact Ocean Recovery today for free, confidential advice and to find out how we can help you move forward into a more positive drug-free future.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: March 15, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.