What Is Adderall?

Adderall is referred to as the “study drug” by those that abuse it, but its true medical purpose is to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also sometimes used to treat narcolepsy.1

This stimulant drug is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It works by changing the amounts of naturally produced dopamine in the brain, providing a calming effect that helps a person focus.

Although some people believe that prescription stimulants like Adderall can improve cognitive abilities, or make you smarter, research shows otherwise. In fact, researchers have found that while Adderall and other prescription stimulants promote wakefulness, students who abuse them actually have lower GPAs in high school and college than those that don’t.2

The Truth About Adderall Abuse

Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse. Just because a doctor prescribes it, does not mean it is safe for recreational use. When misused, Adderall can be highly addictive and dangerous. Despite the danger, many college students and young adults abuse Adderall for its ability to promote wakefulness and its euphoric effects.

According to the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 14 percent of college students reported using Adderall non-medically.3 Additionally, full-time college students ages 18-22 were twice as likely as non-college students of the same age to abuse Adderall. Students who abused Adderall were also more likely than those that didn’t to abuse marijuana, alcohol, and other illicit drugs.4

It is common for students and young adults to abuse Adderall as a study aid, but the justification behind it is not always as clear. In one study published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse, researchers interviewed 175 undergraduate students to find out how they justified their Adderall abuse.5,6 From this study, we learned that many students justify the abuse of Adderall with some of the following beliefs and attitudes:

  • “It’s just like using coffee, soda, or caffeine pills to stay awake and study.”
  • “I only use it during midterms and finals.”
  • “I’m only doing it to improve my grades, not to get high. That makes it okay.”
  • “Doctors prescribe this drug all the time so it must be safe.”

Regardless of the many ways young adults and students choose to justify their Adderall abuse, it is still illegal, dangerous, and can lead to some very serious physical and emotional consequences.

Dangerous Side Effects of Adderall Abuse

When prescription stimulants like Adderall are taken without a prescription, in larger doses, or in a different manner than they were prescribed, the user may experience some uncomfortable and dangerous physical side effects.2 These typically include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased body temperature
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Decreased appetite
  • Malnutrition
  • Hostility
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Cardiovascular problems (such as stroke)

Researchers know very little about the long-term effects of Adderall abuse. Therefore, anyone who abuses this powerful drug over a long period of time may suffer serious consequences or even death.8

If a person becomes addicted to Adderall and suddenly stops taking it, he or she may also experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like depression, trouble sleeping, and extreme fatigue.

Overcoming Adderall Addiction

Adderall is a very addictive drug and any use of it should only be as prescribed by a doctor. If you or a loved one is addicted to Adderall, a medically supervised prescription drug detox program can help you overcome it.

Since you may experience withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing all use of Adderall, it is best to withdrawal in a supervised and safe environment where your vitals and progress can be monitored on a daily basis. Medical detox programs, such as those offered at Hill Country Detox, provide experienced teams of doctors, nurses, and counselors that will treat the uncomfortable physical symptoms of Adderall withdrawal while also addressing any emotional and psychological symptoms such as anxiety or depression.

Medical drug detox will also help prepare you for entry into a drug rehab program by helping you achieve a sober state of being and a clear mind. That way, you’ll get much more out of a long-term rehab program and be better able to put the life skills and relapse prevention techniques you learn into use.

Prescription drug detox is the first step to achieving a lifestyle that is free from Adderall addiction. Call our detox center today to learn more about our medically assisted detox programs near Austin, Texas.



  1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601234.html
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/stimulant-adhd-medications-methylphenidate-amphetamines
  3. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/college-students-arent-the-only-ones-abusing-adderall/
  4. https://archive.samhsa.gov/data/2k9/adderall/adderall.htm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20025437
  6. http://dailynexus.com/2010-05-13/student-health-debunks-adderall-excuses/
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