What Is Adderall?
Pronounced as /ad-uh-rawl/
Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is a brand name of a drug that is a combination of four forms of amphetamine salts, namely: dextroamphetamine saccharate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, amphetamine sulfate, and amphetamine aspartate.
While Adderall is FDA approved as a legitimate treatment for ADHD, it has become a notorious drug for students on college campuses who use it to stay awake for long hours of studying and cramming. Adderall has been dubbed as a "Study Drug" because of its popularity among students wanting to exploit its side effects.
Adderall comes in two forms: immediate release (Adderall IR) and extended release (Adderall XR). The immediate release form lasts for about four to six hours, while the Adderall XR extended release form can last up to 12 hours.
Adderall XR (extended release) is a modified form of the medication. People taking Adderall XR only need to take it once a day. As the name extended release suggests, Adderall XR works by gradually releasing the drug throughout your body over a period of 12 hours.
The effects of Adderall XR extended release capsule can last up to 10 to 12 hours. This means that people taking Adderall XR will not need to take the immediate release type of Adderall multiple times during the day in order to sustain its effects.
Names of Prescription Medication Similar to Adderall:
If you're interested in Adderall or Adderall XR, you might encounter other medications that provide a similar effect. Since Adderall is a brand name for treating ADHD, there are other stimulant medications from other manufacturers also used to treat ADHD.
Some of the brand names of these stimulant drugs include:
What Does Adderall Look Like?
Adderall is usually sold in capsules or tablet form. Adderall tablets can be in 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, or 30 milligrams.
Below is a summary of the physical specifications for Adderall tablets.
|White to Off-white
Below is a summary of the physical specifications for each Adderall XR extended release capsule form.
|Blue & White
|SHIRE 381 20mg
|SHIRE 381 30mg
What Are the Street Names of Adderall?
Since people taking Adderall and Adderall XR use these stimulant medications recreationally and for illicit purposes aside from treating ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), it's not surprising that these stimulant medications have street names or slang terms. These street names are often used to avoid being detected when Adderall is used or sold illicitly.
- Black Beauties
- Pep pills
- Christmas Trees
- Smart Pills
- Study Buddies
What Is Adderall Used For?
Aside from treating ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), people taking Adderall use it for different purposes. While some of these reasons are legitimate uses, the unfortunate thing is that many Adderall users take the drug for purposes not intended or approved by the Food and Drug Administration as they want to attain the various side effects the drug delivers.
Below are some of the common uses of Adderall.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Adderall is primarily used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). The Food and Drug Administration approved Adderall to help people with ADHD manage their symptoms, such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and difficulty focusing on tasks.
Adderall and Adderall XR have been used to treat ADHD in adults and children. If you think that you might be struggling with symptoms of ADHD, you need to consult with a medical professional before taking Adderall to treat ADHD symptoms.
Another common use of Adderall is to treat narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness and sudden attacks of sleep. Adderall helps people with narcolepsy to stay awake during the day as one of the side effects of Adderall is that it decreases your need for sleep.
If you are struggling with any sleep disorder, do not self-medicate as taking Adderall without a prescription is dangerous. You need proper advice from a doctor to determine whether Adderall is the best drug to treat narcolepsy symptoms you may be experiencing.
As a Study Drug
As mentioned, Adderall is used in schools as a "study drug" to improve focus and alertness, especially during exams. Some of the side effects of Adderall like increased concentration, loss of appetite, and increased energy can make studying easier for some people.
However, this practice is dangerous as Adderall has serious side effects if used without a prescription and the appropriate medical supervision. Aside from that, taking Adderall without having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is illegal in most countries.
Additionally, many students who become addicted also continue the habit of taking Adderall or Adderall XR even after graduation. This is the reason why many become addicted, which is one of the side effects of Adderall use.
As a Weight Loss Drug
Because it's a stimulant, one of the side effects of Adderall is that it can lower your appetite. That's why many users notice that they start losing weight after starting Adderall use. The weight loss Adderall may provide as one of its side effects may be attractive for people looking to shed pounds. This pushes some people to use Adderall as a weight loss drug.
However, it's important to understand that the weight loss Adderall or Adderall XR may give you is not necessarily healthy or sustainable. In fact, taking Adderall without a prescription could even lead to serious side effects like blood pressure issues and heart attack.
While many users take the drug to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, many Adderall users are taking Adderall for recreational purposes.
Some people mix Adderall to heighten the effect of other drugs or substances like alcohol, opioids, benzos, non stimulant medications, and other medications. The danger with this is that the effects of Adderall or Adderall XR combined with other drugs can heighten the risk of an overdose and other serious side effects.
Some people also use Adderall to self-medicate. They use Adderall thinking that it will help them treat depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder, treat tiredness, and treat symptoms related to low energy. However, it's crucial to understand that Adderall or Adderall XR has not been approved to treat depression and these other conditions.
If you are struggling with these conditions, you should consult with a medical professional who can provide you with a total treatment program approved for treating symptoms you might be suffering from.
Self-medicating with high doses Adderall or Adderall XR over a long period can lead to serious side effects like addiction, blood pressure/ circulation problems like increased blood pressure or high blood pressure, heart disease, trouble sleeping, low birth weight when taken by pregnant women, mood swings and other mental health issues.
How Does Adderall Work?
Adderall is a psycho-stimulant substance made up of dextroamphetamine saccharate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, amphetamine sulfate, and amphetamine aspartate. As Adderall is a combination of central nervous system stimulants, the drug works by affecting certain natural substances in the brain that help control impulses and hyperactivity.
Adderall targets the brain wherein it acts like neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine) enhancing the message pathways between the brain and the body.
To understand Adderall further, let's have a look at the two main drug components: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
Amphetamine is a stimulant drug that is mainly used to treat problems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and obesity. This drug can be taken in many ways such as oral ingestion, dabbing inside gums, sniffing, injecting, and inhaling as smoke.
These stimulant drugs improve the message pathways between the brain and the body. They trigger the brain to secrete dopamine which affects one's movement, emotion and focus.
Dextroamphetamine is the dextro-form of amphetamine. It functions both as a sympathomimetic and stimulant agent in the brain.
This drug is used for narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Its main action is to inhibit dopamine and adrenergic uptake. It also promotes the secretion of monoamines while blocking monoamine oxidase production.
How Strong Is Adderall?
The strength of Adderall is almost comparable to methamphetamine and poses a high probability of being abused. This means that in terms of drug effects, Adderall is a powerfully addictive substance considering it’s composed of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine.
On a molecular level, there’s very little difference between Adderall and meth. Amphetamines are chemically known as methylated phenylethylamine while methamphetamine is a double methylated phenylethylamine.
In terms of chemical structure, the main difference between Adderall and methamphetamine is the extra methyl group found in the latter. The extra methyl gives meth more potency and an addicting impact because it passes through the blood-brain barrier quickly. Furthermore, meth contains more neurotoxins which makes it more dangerous than Adderall.
The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies Adderall as a Schedule II substance which means it has a high potential for drug abuse. While Adderall has a slightly lower strength than meth, both have very similar effects when abused. For younger adults, Adderall is becoming more popular because it’s more accessible in the market, unlike meth which is strictly monitored by the Drug Enforcement Agency.
How Long Does Adderall Stay in Your System, Blood, Urine, Saliva, Hair?
Just like other drugs, the duration Adderall stays inside your system depends on the individual’s physiological status. Remember, the longer you take Adderall, the more it accumulates inside your body, the harder it is to remove.
Dextroamphetamine is the main psychoactive ingredient in this substance. The half-life of this compound is 10 hours. Consequently, after 10 hours, half of the total amount will be excreted from the body while the rest will be eliminated within three days.
If you are to undergo an Adderall drug test, you may be wondering how long Adderall stays in your system.
Blood test: Detectable within 24 hours
Urine test: Detectable within 3 days but 3 hours after ingestion
Saliva test: Detectable within 48 hours but not an hour after ingestion
Hair test: Detectable for up to one month but gone after 1-2 weeks after ingestion
What Are the Side Effects of Adderall?
Using Adderall and Adderall XR can give the user short-term and long-term side effects. While the side effects of Adderall may vary from person to person, below are some of the common side effects when taking Adderall or Adderall XR.
Short-term Side Effects of Adderall:
- Increased heartbeat
- Blood flow problems or circulation problems
- Trouble sleeping
- Appetite loss
- Sudden and extreme weight loss
- Mood swings
- Higher risk for heart attack
Long-term Side Effects of Adderall:
- Substance use disorders
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Myocardial infarction
- Hyperreflexia – heightened reflexes
- Rapid respiration
- Abdominal cramps
- Coma and convulsions
- Mental Conditions like depression, anxiety, mood swings, etc.
Warnings About Adderall Usage
While Adderall is FDA approved for ADHD and can be effective when used under medical supervision, it should not be used to self-medicate. There are possible drug interactions and side effects that could take place if Adderall is used improperly.
These drug interactions and side effects can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. Taking Adderall or Adderall XR if you have extremely high blood pressure can cause cardiac arrest and sudden death.
Multiple medical studies have indicated that one of the side effects of giving amphetamines to patients suffering from mental illness is that it has further exacerbated their condition.
As one of the more serious side effects of Adderall use, you should take caution before using the drug if you have a mental illness. Adderall or Adderall XR is not advised for patients with severe agitation, severe anxiety, bipolar disorder or any other mental illness unless supervised by a medical specialist.
Extensive usage of stimulants among young ones, that includes amphetamines, may have shown tendencies for long-term growth inhibition.
Sudden Death for Patients Diagnosed with Cardiac Disease
Several medical reports have stated that the administration of amphetamines to patients with existing heart problems has caused sudden death.
For pregnant women, Adderall should be taken with caution as animal studies suggest a potential risk to infants. According to these animal studies, Adderall may cause low birth weight and other issues. The drug can also pass into breast milk.
Other Contraindications of Adderall
Before taking Adderall or Adderall XR, make sure you don’t have the following conditions listed below:
- Clogged artery walls
- Family history of heart disease
- Family history of high blood pressure
- Thyroid disorder
- Hypersensitivity to adrenergic drugs such as epinephrine and dopamine
- Past record of drug abuse
- Family history of mental conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc.
- Ingesting monoamine oxidase inhibitors within 14 days as the combination of monoamine oxidase inhibitors with Adderall can cause side effects
What’s the Required Dosage and Administration for Adderall?
For people struggling with ADHD, there is a recommended dosage of Adderall or Adderall XR. You should not take more than what was prescribed so you won't experience dangerous side effects.
For instance, if the first dose is only 10 mg per day as per your prescription, do not exceed this. Even if you are not feeling the effects, you should first consult with your doctor. If you have a missed dose, do not take more to compensate. A missed dose should not be doubled.
Children with ADHD
A first dose of 10 mg per day for age 6 years and above or when starting treatment for the first time or switching from another medical treatment.
Daily dose increment of 5 or 10 mg at weekly intervals. The maximum recommended dosage for children is 30 mg per day
Adults with ADHD
An initial or first dose of 20 mg per day for patients who are either first time starting a treatment or switching from another medical treatment.
Increase from the first dose should be advised by the doctor
How Does One Get Addicted to Adderall?
Addiction to Adderall is a serious and growing problem in the medical community that can cause severe health consequences and potentially even death if left untreated. Adderall falls under the category of Schedule II controlled substances, meaning it has a high potential for abuse.
The most common route for developing addiction towards Adderall or Adderall XR begins with someone who has access to it through a prescription from their doctor or from friends/family members who have legitimate prescriptions.
Typically they will take larger doses of Adderall or Adderall XR than initially intended or increase their dosage over time leading to tolerance, which means they need more and more Adderall in order for it to work effectively. Over time, users develop a psychological and physical dependence on Adderall due to the effect on dopamine production in their brain, which creates feelings of pleasure and increased focus when taken regularly.
In short, Adderall addiction occurs when someone takes high doses than what was prescribed by their doctor or intentionally takes another person's medication without correctly diagnosing and treating an underlying condition or disorder.
A person may also become addicted to Adderall or Adderall XR if they combine it with other substances such as alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs of abuse. Taking any drug like this for prolonged periods can change the way your body naturally produces chemicals known as neurotransmitters which are essential for optimal functioning.
Someone who has become addicted to Adderall or Adderall XR may show some common signs such as:
- Craving Adderall or Adderall XR
- Being unable to control their Adderall use despite knowing that it is having negative outcomes on their life (including personal relationships)
- Paying more money/time devoted towards acquiring Adderall or Adderall XR rather than engaging in productive activities
- Neglecting responsibilities at home/work/school due to frequent intoxication from taking too much Adderall at once.
Why Is Adderall Dangerous?
Adderall is considered dangerous because it is highly addictive and can cause severe side effects including death. As its popularity increases, so does the risk of taking too much or combining it with other substances like alcohol and drugs.
When taken in high doses, Adderall can lead to dangerous physical side effects like irregular heartbeats, blood pressure or circulation problems like high blood pressure/ increased blood pressure, seizures, kidney & heart disease, and even coma.
Due to these side effects, those who are predisposed to heart, blood pressure or circulation problems should use caution when using Adderall and Adderall XR.
What Causes Adderall Overdose?
Perhaps you're wondering if Adderall can cause an overdose. The answer is yes, it's possible to overdose on Adderall or Adderall XR. There are several ways this could happen.
#1 Taking High Doses of Adderall or Adderall XR
The most common cause of an Adderall overdose is taking more than the recommended dose. Taking large doses of Adderall or Adderall XR can lead to life-threatening conditions such as irregular heartbeats, seizures and even coma.
#2 Taking Adderall or Adderall XR tainted with Fentanyl
In recent years, there has been an increase in the use of counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl or other dangerous drugs. Street dealers often market these as a generic form of Adderall, when in truth, this supposedly generic version of Adderall does not contain any dextroamphetamine saccharate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, amphetamine sulfate, or amphetamine aspartate.
Taking these tainted pills can cause a severe reaction and is possibly fatal. It is important to only take Adderall or Adderall XR when it comes from a legitimate source. When offered a generic version to treat ADHD, do not accept it unless it's from a legitimate pharmacy.
#3 Mixing Adderall or Adderall XR with Other Substances
Another cause of an Adderall overdose is mixing it with other substances like alcohol, marijuana or other drugs. This can increase the likelihood of life-threatening reactions like chest pain, heart attack, coma, seizures, and death.
What Are the Signs of an Overdose?
When you or someone you know is experiencing an overdose of Adderall, the following overdose symptoms may be seen:
- Chest pain
- Excessive reflexes
- Rapid breathing
- High aggressiveness level
- Fatigue and depression
- Hypertension and hypotension
- Nausea and vomiting
How Do You Treat Adderall Overdose?
If you notice any overdose symptoms listed above, it's important to contact emergency medical services immediately. Treatment for an Adderall overdose is best administered by a medical professional.
Stay with the patient until emergency help arrives to make sure the patient is safe. You can also help inform the medical personnel of the situation, including any other drugs that have been taken and the approximate time they were ingested.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms from Adderall Addiction?
A person who struggles with drug abuse may suddenly decide to quit using Adderall abruptly. Doing so, however, can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Adderall withdrawal symptoms can vary from mild headaches or nausea all the way up to chest pain and seizures. The symptoms will depend on several factors including how long a person has been using Adderall or Adderall XR.
Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Intense fatigue
- Inability or irregular sleep patterns
- Extreme dermatitis or skin disease
- Intense irritability
How Can You Treat Adderall Addiction?
If you are struggling with psychological and physical dependence on Adderall, there are effective ways to treat your problem. The first step is to reach out and speak with a medical professional or mental health specialist. They will be able to assess your condition and
recommend a total treatment program for recovery.
Adderall addiction recovery is possible with the right rehab program to address not only your drug abuse but also your underlying mental and physical health issues. The treatment may include long-term rehabilitation, cognitive therapy, medication, and lifestyle advice. There are also support groups available that can help provide a safe and supportive environment to help you better manage your addiction and stay sober.