Adderall is a psychostimulant medication commonly used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Like other stimulant drugs, Adderall has a high potential for abuse and is commonly used as a recreational drug.

Pharmacologically, Adderall is considered to be a central nervous system stimulant. Other drugs in this class include cocaine, methamphetamines, and ephedrine. These drugs speed up the central nervous system and can make your heart beat faster, increase your blood pressure, and provide a sensation of energy and focus.

Adderall use is not without consequences. The most common side effects of using Adderall include:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
These side effects can happen whether you take Adderall as prescribed or as a recreational drug.

Medical Use of Adderall

There are two approved medical uses for Adderall: the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy.

For people with ADHD, Adderall can create profound cognitive benefits and vastly improve both their quality of life and their academic performance. Part of the reason that Adderall works for people with ADHD is that it releases large amounts of dopamine in the brain.

People with ADHD tend to produce lower levels of dopamine than their neurotypical counterparts and may struggle to focus on tasks or to feel a sense of reward for their actions. When taking Adderall, they find it easier to focus, and they report a sense of motivation and calm that is not within their typical experience.

Importantly, people who have ADHD do not experience the euphoria or erratic behavior that often occurs when people take Adderall recreationally.

For people with narcolepsy, Adderall can help them to stay awake. All stimulants can promote wakefulness, and people with narcolepsy can benefit greatly from this effect.

Adderall comes in many dosages, but it typically comes in one of two forms:

Adderall Capsules

An Adderall capsule is a clear or colored tube that contains several small pellets inside. These pellets contain a mixture of amphetamine salts that produce Adderall’s medicinal effects. Oftentimes, these pellets are formulated to be time-released, which means that the drug enters the bloodstream over a prolonged period of time.

Adderall Tablets

Adderall tablets more closely resemble typical medications. They are small and often contain score marks that make them easy to split into half-doses. Adderall tablets vary in strength, usually between 5 and 10 milligrams.

Non-Medical Use of Adderall

People use Adderall for two primary non-prescribed reasons: abuse and misuse. Someone can abuse Adderall to produce a feeling of euphoria and socialization, or they can misuse it as a “study drug” to promote academic achievement and performance. For misuse and recreational use, Adderall can be taken orally, snorted, or dissolved in water and injected.

Adderall can promote wakefulness and increase motivation to complete tasks. It may even create short-term benefits in working memory. Because of this, Adderall is used by a small but significant portion of students in higher education.

However, at higher doses, Adderall can have the opposite effect, reducing the ability to focus and interfering with memory.

Some people may also use Adderall for other purposes, including boosting athletic performance or as a weight loss drug. As a result, most major sports organizations have classified Adderall as a performance-enhancing drug and banned its use.

Adderall Risks

Adderall use is not without its risks, whether it is taken as prescribed or used illegally. It has a high risk for abuse and using it regularly can rapidly spiral into an addiction. This is because Adderall produces large levels of dopamine in the brain, which causes people to associate the drug with reward and makes them more likely to use it again.

Chemically, Adderall is very similar to the illicit drug methamphetamine. In fact, the medications included in an Adderall tablet are a blend of amphetamine salts, and the only difference between amphetamine and methamphetamine is a single methyl group.

While using Adderall may feel euphoric, energizing, and motivating, it often comes at a cost. After an Adderall binge, people will often “crash” and experience prolonged periods of depression, sleepiness, and a lack of motivation. Further, people who use a high dose of Adderall may experience psychosis, delusions, and paranoia.

Overdose is another real concern with Adderall use. Taking too much Adderall can increase your blood pressure to dangerously high levels, putting you at risk for a heart attack or seizure.

Pressed Pills

Since Adderall is a frequently sought-after medication, illicit drug manufacturers will often create lookalike pills marketed as Adderall. Even though they may have the same shape, color, and imprints as real Adderall medications, they often include different active ingredients.

Most commonly, pills pressed to resemble Adderall actually contain the drug methamphetamine. This is because methamphetamine is easier to manufacture illegally and selling methamphetamine as Adderall fetches a higher return for illicit drug manufacturers.

The true danger of pressed pills is that you don’t know exactly the drug or dose you are receiving. A single pressed pill may contain a very high dose of methamphetamine and can quickly lead to accidental overdose.

Street Value of Adderall

The street price of Adderall varies significantly between states. Using the RADARS surveillance system, StreetRx compiles anonymously submitted information to assess Adderall prices throughout the world and to give a general perception of the average street value of Adderall.

According to our data, Adderall prices are typically between $0.30 and $1.00 per milligram. For a 30mg pill, that puts the typical street price of Adderall at $9 to $30.

Resources for Getting Help with Adderall Addiction

If you think your Adderall use has developed into a substance use problem, you may need professional help to stop. The very nature of substance use disorders makes it hard for people to stop on their own, but there are targeted therapies and medications that can help.

Addiction can affect anyone and brings serious physical and mental health consequences.

You can find professional mental health and addiction treatment services on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s website. Addiction treatment is highly effective at helping people break free from their addiction and get back to living healthy and productive lives.