Adderall: The Rise of the Study Drug

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When you think of addiction, your thoughts may be drawn to illegal drugs such as marijuana, heroin or cocaine. Unfortunately, prescription medications, such as Adderall, may be another source of addiction. Thousands of people take prescription pills for a variety of reasons, and some of those people may be struggling with addiction.


Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine that is often prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). One of the primary symptoms of ADHD is difficulty focusing, and amphetamines are stimulants that can produce better focus and clarity of mind—but they can also be highly addictive. Illegal versions of amphetamines include methamphetamine or speed.

As a stimulant, Adderall can have a settling effect on the hyperactive mind, allowing you to focus more easily. Because of these effects, many children take Adderall as a daily prescription.


In 2014, Adderall and other prescription amphetamines were second only to marijuana and alcohol in prevalence as an abused substance for teens. There are three main ways in which prescription pills are abused: a person without a prescription may take pills provided by a friend or family member, a person who has a prescription may take a higher dosage than prescribed or a person may take Adderall for a reason other than its intended purpose, such as achieving a high.

Because Adderall is a stimulant, it can have powerful effects on those who do not struggle with ADHD. Much like cocaine, another stimulant, Adderall can create a high by flooding the reward center of the brain with dopamine. This influx of pleasure response may encourage a person to continue using Adderall, forming an addiction.

Those with ADHD can use Adderall as prescribed to safely manage their condition, but it has become a popular drug among students who do not suffer from ADHD. Because of its stimulant properties, some students believe taking it will help their academic performance. They take a pill to help focus on a project or to study for a test, not realizing they may be creating a habit that could follow them beyond school.

Many adults in high-stress jobs take Adderall because it can suppress appetite, increase focus and maintain alertness. Before long, they may feel as though they cannot function without the drug, and it becomes an addiction.

Though Adderall may provide feelings of increased energy and focus, it can also have a detrimental effect on the body. Stimulants impact the cardiovascular system by raising body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, which may lead to seizures or heart failure (3). Adderall abuse may also lead to paranoia or psychosis because the mind is kept in a constant state of activity.


Escaping the specter of Adderall addiction can be daunting. Withdrawal symptoms may include fatigue, depression and sleep disruption, but they may be mitigated by a steady decrease in dosage to slowly reduce dependence and ease symptoms.

Currently, there are no medications that have proven useful in the treatment of Adderall addiction, but there are a variety of therapies that may be effective.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can effectively help you to understand and recognize situations that may lead to relapse and learn to cope with the feelings which initially instigated the addiction.

Recovery support groups may also be an important tool for overcoming Adderall addiction. Many people struggle with addiction, and finding a support group can help you learn from the experiences of other people and help you feel like you are not alone.


Adderall can be just as addictive as illegal stimulants. You may feel as though you need it in order to perform in school or at work, but ultimately, abusing Adderall will only lead you to more self-destructive activities. You can break the habit, get treatment and discover you don’t need a stimulant in order to achieve success.

Mallie TuckerComment