Table of contents
What is Adderall?
For people with ADHD, Adderall increases norepinephrine and dopamine activity in the brain and stimulates the nervous system. Users are more focused, concentrated, alert, and motivated.
Adderall is an effective and safe drug when it’s used responsibly. However, it can cause physical dependence, and addiction. It is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States.2
While Adderall helps many people with ADHD function well daily, some people also abuse it to get high or to enhance their academic or physical performance. Misusing any prescription stimulant is dangerous and can have serious, life-threatening effects. Examples include:
- Taking someone else’s prescription
- Using it in a way that’s not recommended by a medical professional
Adderall is one of the most commonly abused prescription stimulants in the U.S. Based on data from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 5.1 million people ages 12 or older in 2018 misused prescription stimulants in the past year.3 Adderall contributes to nearly 1,500 emergency room visits annually. What’s more, 1 in 5 college students report misusing prescription stimulants at least once in their lifetime.4,5
Is Adderall Dangerous?
All prescription stimulant use comes with inherent risk. If you have already discussed these risks with your doctor and you take your Adderall prescription exactly as prescribed, sudden death is very unlikely to occur.
Most reported Adderall deaths were not caused by Adderall use alone. Studies have confirmed that the drug is unlikely to cause deadly cardiovascular events without the user having any pre-existing conditions or engaging in risky polydrug use.6
In most cases, the people who have died from using Adderall either had pre-existing conditions that made death more likely to occur. Examples include structural heart problems/heart defects, a family history of abnormal heart rhythms, or fatty liver. Deaths have also occurred under abnormal circumstances, like during vigorous exercise in extreme heat.7
Taking very high doses of Adderall can cause heart attack or overdose, which may be fatal. Using Adderall with alcohol and/or other drugs can dramatically increase the likelihood of serious cardiovascular side effects or death.8
Harmful Side Effects of Adderall Use
Adderall mainly affects your central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Even if you take the appropriate dosage, you may experience some side effects. Harmful side effects of Adderall use include:9
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Damage to heart tissue
- Digestive problems
- Psychosis (more likely to occur with long-term Adderall abuse)
- Sudden death
If you abuse Adderall, the side effects are likely to be more severe. Side effects of chronic Adderall abuse include:
- Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies
- Mental illness
- Problems breathing
- Behavioral disorders
- Mood swings
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Skin disorders
- Loss of coordination
Adderall also interacts with other medications. If you take it with the following drugs, it may cause uncomfortable side effects:
- Cold or allergy medications
- Heart or blood pressure medications
- St. John’s Wort
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil
- Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Cymbalta and Effexor XR
An exhaustive list of Adderall drug interactions can be found via the FDA’s Adderall drug label.10
Can You Die From Taking Adderall?
Generally speaking, Adderall is a safe and effective drug when it is taken as prescribed. However, you can die from taking Adderall if you:
- Use Adderall to get high
- Take Adderall without a prescription
- Use Adderall incorrectly (chewing, snorting, or injecting it)
- Use Adderall with alcohol or other prescription drugs or illegal drugs
How to Prevent Death by Adderall
- Talk to your doctor about alternative treatment options.
If you have trouble concentrating, focusing on tasks, getting organized, or you are restless, these may be symptoms of ADHD. However, medication isn’t always the answer. Speak with your doctor about holistic treatment options. This is especially important if you’ve had a substance use disorder in the past. You may be surprised to find that you can learn to cope and function well without Adderall.
- Educate yourself on the risks, benefits, and side effects of using Adderall.
If you decide to start taking Adderall for ADHD, you will want to make sure you understand the risks, benefits, and side effects of using it. Then, you can make smart decisions about using it.
- Take your Adderall prescription exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
If you don’t have any pre-existing conditions that increase your risk, Adderall is very unlikely to be deadly. Taking your Adderall prescription in the right dosage and at the right frequency will greatly reduce your risk for adverse side effects or death.
- Don’t give your Adderall to anyone else.
You might feel tempted to give Adderall to a friend or family member. But if you give in to peer pressure, they might suffer the consequences.
Get Help for Adderall Addiction Now
If you are addicted to Adderall, you can recover and regain your life back. Prescription drug abuse is a widespread problem in the U.S. and you are not alone in this struggle. Call Nova Recovery Center at (512) 605-2955 to speak with an admissions representative about your treatment options today. We are here to help and we accept most forms of insurance.