Adderall® belongs to a group of medications called psychostimulants or central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. It is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine that is used to treat two major disorders.
Doctors will prescribe this medication to patients with:
Without treatment, those with ADHD have trouble concentrating, controlling actions, and staying still or quiet. However, Adderall in addition to counseling and special education can help those with the disorder manage symptoms effectively.
While other prescription medications exist for ADHD and narcolepsy (e.g., Ritalin® or Concerta®), Adderall is a common brand name used in the United States.
The drug works like other amphetamines. Because it absorbs easily in fatty tissue, it can enter into the brain quickly and interact with neurotransmitters (dopamine and norepinephrine).
This type of interaction can cause positive behavioral changes during ADHD/narcolepsy care, including:
However, like any drug, Adderall can have unwanted side effects, such as:
It is always important to take the dose prescribed by a healthcare provider. Exceeding the dose could result in serious side effects. Some effects can be extremely harmful to the body, like a racing heart rate or panic state.
Although Adderall is a prescription medication, amphetamines fall under the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Schedule II classification group. This means that this drug has a high potential for abuse and can create psychological and physical dependence.
Since adderall is commonly misused or abused, there is a higher risk of overdose.
Different reasons may explain why an individual overdoses on Adderall, including:
Prescription stimulant misuse is the second most common form of illicit (illegal) drug use in college.
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There is no exact data about overdoses caused by Adderall.
However, there is interesting data about drug overdose deaths and stimulant overdose visits in the United States:
Stimulant misuse may be more common among high school and college students. These young people may use Adderall as a study drug to improve academic performance and overall focus.
Amphetamine overdose symptoms may include:
It is important to take an individual suspected of overdose to the emergency department.
People who chronically misuse Adderall have an increased risk of experiencing psychosis, often clinically resembling schizophrenia.
If someone overdoses on Adderall, it is critical to get immediate medical help.
When overdoses (or acute intoxication) occur, you risk experiencing serious complications, such as high blood pressure. When blood pressure gets too elevated, you may have a heart attack or stroke. These two conditions could cause irreversible damage and disability.
Also, while death by Adderall overdose may not be frequent, the risk of death increases when you mix the drug with other substances.
Finally, Adderall overdose may indicate an underlying addiction. Prescription stimulant misuse can eventually result in a substance use disorder and pose higher health and socioeconomic/behavioral risks.
Adderall is an amphetamine to control symptoms caused by ADHD and narcolepsy.
People taking Adderall should speak with their doctor first before mixing medications, as drug interactions can occur. In general, Adderall should not be combined, especially with drugs that are over-the-counter and decongestants or used to treat depression.
If individuals mix drugs, unwanted or worsened side effects could occur because of drug interactions in the body.
The following list shows which drugs to avoid during Adderall use:
Examples of MAO inhibitors include:
In the United States, an annual average of 1.9% of adults (12+) without a substance use disorder (SUD) misused prescription stimulants.
If you suspect someone is overdosing, it is important to call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222 and/or seek information online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help.
Yes, if possible. If the person who has overdosed has collapsed, experienced a seizure, has difficulty breathing, or cannot be awakened, call 911.
Doctors will place physical restraints (like a wristlet, anklet or type of strap) to prevent people from inflicting self-harm or harm to others. Overdosing can change your mental health state, which can lead to aggressiveness due to an amphetamine-caused paranoia.
Physicians will work to treat life-threatening signs and symptoms, if present, such as:
Physicians may also provide supportive therapy, including benzodiazepines for sedation and seizure management. If someone is conscious, they may administer activated charcoal (a type of charcoal that helps bind drugs or toxins to it), so that the digestive tract cannot absorb all of the amphetamine in a person’s system. Lastly, physicians may give individuals fluids through an IV line to help treat dehydration.
There are no home remedies for an Adderall overdose. Individuals suspected of Adderall overdose should call the US poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or emergency services at 911.
If you or a loved one have an Adderall addiction, various therapy options are available, such as:
Chronic Adderall use can contribute to physical and psychological dependence, which means that withdrawal symptoms may arise after quitting. These symptoms could include:
At the moment, there are no drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to neutralize the effects of amphetamines or those caused by extended abstinence.
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ADDERALL® (CII), US Food and Drug Administration , www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/011522s040lbl.pdf.
Comptom, Wilson M, et al. “Prevalence and Correlates of Prescription Stimulant Use, Misuse, Use Disorders, and Motivations for Misuse Among Adults in the United States.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 16 Apr. 2018, ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.17091048.
“Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Apr. 2019, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601234.html.
Klare, Dalton L, et al. “Prescription Drug Misuse, Other Substance Use, and Sexual Identity: The Significance of Educational Status and Psychological Distress in US Young Adults.” Substance Abuse, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 21 July 2020, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32692942/.
Lakhan, Shaheen E, and Annette Kirchgessner. “Prescription Stimulants in Individuals with and without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Misuse, Cognitive Impact, and Adverse Effects.” Brain and Behavior, Blackwell Publishing Inc, Sept. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489818/.
“Vital Signs: Characteristics of Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids and Stimulants - 24 States and the District of Columbia, January–June 2019.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Sept. 2020, www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6935a1.htm.