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Signs of Adderall Abuse

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Adderall is a prescription stimulant that can be legally prescribed to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy. But some people who have ADHD and narcolepsy—or don’t—misuse it to get an “Adderall high.” Others abuse it to stay awake or keep up their energy to do things like cram for exams. According to a report on prescription drug misuse by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over a million people abused stimulants like Adderall in 2017. Prescription drug abuse is most common in adults ages 18 to 25. The majority of people who abuse prescription stimulants say they get them from a friend or family member.

Adderall has gained a reputation as “the study drug” because of its use to stay alert while studying by high school and college students. It’s also known by users as:

  • Red pep
  • Red dexies
  • Copilots
  • Beans
  • Addys

The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) classifies Adderall as a Schedule II drug, which means it has high potential for abuse and is considered dangerous. The FDA also recognizes Adderall’s addictive qualities and advises it be prescribed sparingly.

If you suspect someone you love is abusing Adderall, there is good reason for concern. Just because it’s a prescription medication doesn’t mean Adderall can’t be harmful when misused. Adderall can be addictive and have many detrimental effects on physical and mental health when abused.

Signs of Adderall Abuse

Physical Adderall Side Effects

Most observable Adderall side effects are behavioral, but there are some physical side effects.

Adderall’s Short-Term Effects

  • Drinking a lot of liquids due to dry mouth
  • Stomach issues like nausea or abdominal pain
  • Skipping meals or eating less because of how Adderall suppresses the appetite

Adderall’s Long-Term Effects

  • Weight loss
  • Stomach pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Impotence
  • Cold and numb fingers and toes
  • High blood pressure
  • High heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack

Behavioral Adderall Side Effects

Behavioral changes are common side effects of Adderall. Adderall’s effects on personality and behaviors include the following.

Adderall’s Short-Term Effects

  • Appearing nervous or agitated
  • Staying awake for long periods of time
  • Talking a lot or being overly chatty

Adderall’s Long-Term Effects

Adderall side effects can become especially dangerous if Adderall is mixed with other substances, like alcohol. Stimulants can mask alcohol’s effects, making it easy to drink dangerous amounts.

Environmental Signs of Adderall Abuse

If you’re worried a loved one is abusing Adderall, you might notice changes in the places they spend most of their time. Look out for the following:

  • If already prescribed Adderall, your loved one visits multiple doctors, also known as “doctor shopping.”
  • Several empty bottles of Adderall
  • You find pills in something other than a prescription bottle, like plastic baggies.
  • You see razor blades, straws, pill crushers, powdery residue, and other evidence that Adderall might be smashed for snorting.
  • Extreme mood shifts
  • Neglecting work, school, or other responsibilities
  • Changes in sleep and eating habits

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Adderall tolerance and withdrawal is possible with long-term use. If your loved one stops using this drug abruptly, it can cause several undesirable Adderall withdrawal symptoms.

These may include:

  • Adderall cravings
  • Panic
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleep
  • Depressed mood
  • Poor focus
  • Anxiety
  • Increased hunger
  • Thoughts of suicide

Self-Assessment: Am I Addicted?

Get Help for Adderall Addiction

It’s important to get help from addiction treatment professionals if you’ve been abusing Adderall. Quitting Adderall on your own can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and relapse.

Footprints to Recovery offers the following substance abuse treatment options:

Medical Detox

Our treatment team will monitor you around the clock to make sure you’re safe and as comfortable as possible. We’ll determine the safest Adderall taper schedule for your situation and help ease withdrawal symptoms with research-backed medications.

Addiction Treatment

Footprints to Recovery offers both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs. Following detox, we’ll work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that addresses the underlying issues that have led you to abuse Adderall so you’re less likely to use drugs and alcohol to cope in the future. Drug and alcohol abuse often stems from mental health disorders, trauma, relationship issues, and attachment styles. We’ll help you manage triggers and underlying issues while gaining healthy coping skills.


Recovery from drugs and alcohol is a lifelong journey. It’s important to continue recovery practices following addiction treatment. These may include therapy, support groups, and medication management. Footprints to Recovery provides thorough aftercare planning so you’re set up with all the resources you need to live a healthy, fulfilling life without Adderall.

If you or a loved one is struggling with Adderall abuse, call us today. We’ll provide a free phone consultation and answer all of your questions.

Questions about treatment options?

Our admissions team is available 24/7 to listen to your story and help you get started with the next steps.

Jenna Richer
Medically Reviewed by Jenna Richer, MSW, LCSW
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