Adderall Addiction and Abuse

When it’s abused, Adderall can lead to addiction and dependence that leaves little distinction from the difference between Adderall and meth. Taken as prescribed, it can allow those with attention deficit problems like ADHD to lead a normal, functional life. 

More About Adderall

What is Adderall?

Adderall is the brand name of a clinical solution of dextroamphetamine and d-amphetamine, which are classified as schedule II central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. The medication is similar to Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) and prescribed in dosages of 5 – 30 milligrams per pill to treat a range of conditions; it’s available in a regular and extended release formula. It is the most widely prescribed amphetamine and the most widely abused legal stimulant. The abuse potential is the reason it’s classified on the same level as other CNS drugs that offer no clinical benefits.

Clinical Uses of Adderall

It’s used to manage attention deficit disorders (ADD and ADHD) in conjunction with behavior modification therapy. The drug is more powerful than Ritalin (methylphenidate), so it’s often used as a transitional medication as children with ADHD enter their teens years; the drug is also given to adults with late diagnoses of attention deficit problems and to treat narcolepsy.

The success of Adderall uses for weight loss, improving focus and concentration, and boosting energy are what makes this medication so prone to abuse and diversion. Among the most common abusers are parents taking their children’s prescriptions and students sharing pills with their friends.

It works by affecting the way neurotransmitters in the brain function, leaving them open longer in the regions that control mental alertness and attention span. Adderall pills also increase the number and concentration of the neurotransmitters. Neuroscientists don’t completely understand why, but this has the effect of calming down individuals who are prone to clinical hyperactivity and attention problems.

Adderall does not produce the same effect on people who don’t have a true diagnosis of clinical ADHD.

Are you ready to get help?

If you’re ready to take the first step toward finding recovery, contact Stepping Stone Center for Recovery today. Our addiction specialist can answer any questions regarding our program and the treatment options that are available to you.


Who Abuses Adderall?

The definition of drug abuse is to take more of a drug than prescribed, to take someone else’s prescription medication, or to take a drug solely for the purpose of getting high. According to Adderall abuse statistics, it is the most abused and diverted prescription stimulant. Adderall pills are commonly stolen or given to other people who have no legal right to use them, and snorting Adderall is a common past time in high school and college campuses. Students who abuse their own or their friends’ prescriptions are also more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs.

Who is the face of Adderall addiction?

The short answer is that it’s rarely the person it’s prescribed for, which statistically would be a child between the ages of 8 and 17. According to the study conducted by Johns Hopkins University, the face of stimulant abuse is likely to be college-age and male. However, it’s also widely abused by:

  • Professionals in high-stress occupations with typically long working hours
  • College students
  • High school and college athletes
  • Homemakers
  • People with eating disorders

In 2005, Canada prohibited the sale of Adderall-XR after 20 people died due to overdose, and it has been banned by the International Olympic Committee for more than 50 years due to its use as a performance-enhancing drug.

Adderall Abuse Statistics

Looking at the statistics may make any parent think twice about giving this medication to their child, and some child advocates believe it’s over-prescribed. According to statistics, prescriptions have tripled to more than 17.2 million per year since 2009; of that number, nearly two million are children aged 12 – 17. The largest demographic for abuse of this drug is males ages 18 – 25.

During the 5 year period of the study (2006 – 2011), adult prescriptions increased by 67 percent and ER visits related to overdose increased by 156 percent. Rates for children declined during that time. Two-thirds of those in treatment for addiction to this stimulant obtained their supply from a friend or family member with a prescription.

Adderall vs Meth

There’s a new school of thought that claims Adderall is nothing short of legalized meth. A few facts about the distinctions should put the Adderall vs meth question to rest for good. Both are a form of amphetamine, and the difference between Adderall and meth are a matter of degree. Chemically, the two drugs are nearly identical, and both are used to manage attention deficit disorders. Methamphetamine is also legally prescribed to treat obesity, while the formulation of d-amphetamine is indicated to treat narcolepsy.

The potential for abuse is present with both substances, and any drug is dangerous when abused. Pharmaceutical d-amphetamine is considered safer due to its purity over the street drug and slower absorption into the brain. Meth is generally smoked or injected when abused. Adderall is taken by pill, although abusers sometimes crush the pills and snort them to increase the effect and rate of delivery.

Natural Alternatives to Adderall

The potential for addiction and abuse, overdose rates, and a generally negative public opinion have led parents and doctors to search for natural Adderall sources or substitutes. Some researchers believe that attention problems are caused by food additives or allergies and can be solved by altering diet. Others advocate using supplements such as Mucuna Pruriens, which is a natural dopamine booster. There are several other natural ingredients like caffeine, resveratrol, curcumin, and Siberian ginseng that show promise.

Is Treatment Available?

The treatment protocol, withdrawal symptoms, and signs of abuse are the same as for other stimulant drugs, both legal and illegal. Due to the nature of addiction, the risk of death, and high potential for abuse and relapse, treatment in an inpatient program that includes detox, therapy, and aftercare support offers the highest chance of a successful recovery. It’s also important for parents to look into alternative treatments for attention deficit disorders for their children.

Contact Stepping Stone and Get Help Today

Do you have questions about Adderall addiction? Call us at  1-866-957-4960 or fill out the form below and our admissions coordinators will answer any question that you may have about treatment options available to you.

  • This form is not for medical emergencies. If you need immediate emergency help, please call 911 or get to your nearest hospital.