Cornerstone of Southern California Drug and Alcohol Rehab
Signs of Adderall Addiction
Author: Cornerstone of Southern California
Published: June 9, 2022

Adderall is a prescription drug that doctors use to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. While Adderall is perfectly safe to use as your doctor prescribes, misusing the drug can lead to dependence and addiction.

One of the best ways to prevent addiction is to increase awareness about drug abuse. This blog offers some information about what Adderall is, why it is addictive, and some of the signs of Adderall addiction.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant medication containing the substances amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine work by increasing central nervous system activity, facilitating communication between different areas of the brain.

You can find Adderall in two forms – immediate-release Adderall and extended-release Adderall. Adderall XR is particularly useful as its effects last up to 12 hours, so only needs to be administered once a day.

How Does Adderall Treat ADHD?

Scientists believe that people living with ADHD may have unbalanced levels of the chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that facilitate communication in the brain. These imbalances may affect cognitive functions such as focus and attention, affecting an individual’s ability to concentrate, complete tasks, and, in some cases, manage their behavior.

Adderall increases the availability of these neurotransmitters, increasing communication in the brain. This may help people with ADHD to manage their symptoms and achieve their full potential.

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Why Do People Abuse Adderall?

Adderall has become known as a ‘study drug’ – a medicine that high school and college students use, aiming to increase their performance in assignments and exams. Young adults may believe that Adderall can help them stay up late to revise, concentrate for longer periods, and produce higher quality work.

In reality, research suggests that prescription stimulant abuse has a negative, if not detrimental, effect on performance. A 2008 study found that 21% of students taking Adderall skipped classes for non-medical reasons, compared to 9% of non-Adderall users.

Young people may also abuse Adderall by mixing it with other drugs including alcohol to ‘get high’. This is a dangerous practice, increasing the probability of both alcohol poisoning and Adderall overdose.

Prescription drug abuse is a prevalent health issue in the United States. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, around 5.8% of adults may misuse prescription stimulants and other medications. Despite misconceptions that prescription medications may be safer than illicit drugs, prescription drug abuse comes with serious health risks, including addiction and fatal overdose. They can also be a stepping-stone to harder drugs; people misusing prescription drugs may be 21 times more likely to use cocaine than those who don’t.

What Is Adderall Addiction?

Adderall addiction is when you compulsively seek and use Adderall, despite any negative consequences. Addiction is characterized by physical changes in the brain that reinforce drug-seeking behavior, even after periods of abstinence.

Adderall addiction develops from the way the substance affects the brain’s reward pathway. The reward system is a mechanism that reinforces life-preserving behaviors, encouraging us to repeat certain activities. When we engage in activities such as eating or having sex, our brain releases small amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine, producing feelings of pleasure and connecting the activity with this reward.

Taking Adderall increases the availability of dopamine in the brain, directly impacting the reward system. Abusing Adderall can lead to urges to seek and use substances that are much stronger than we naturally experience, and that can be very difficult to resist.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Addiction?

If you are worried that you or someone you know may have developed Adderall addiction, there are some warning signs to look out for. If you recognize any of these signs and symptoms, you should contact a health care professional or treatment provider for information, advice, and support.

Signs and symptoms of Adderall addiction may include:

  • Adderall Becoming the Priority in Your Life – If you develop an addiction to Adderall, it begins to become the most important thing in your life. You may find that your thoughts are dominated by Adderall and you plan your day around it. You may neglect other obligations and responsibilities to take Adderall – for example by missing days of work or school.
  • Lying and Secrecy – You may act secretively or dishonestly to maintain your Adderall abuse. This may involve lying to friends and family members about your drug habits, hiding pills, or using fake prescriptions.
  • Financial Difficulties – Sustaining an addiction can be expensive, especially if you’ve developed a high tolerance to the substance. You may find yourself struggling financially, or even stealing to find the funds to buy drugs.
  • Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms – Many people with an Adderall addiction also develop a dependence on the substance. Physical dependence is when your body gets used to the presence of Adderall and adjusts its functions in response. If you try and stop taking Adderall, you may experience Adderall withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, depression, insomnia, nausea, and fatigue.
  • Physical and Mental Health Consequences – If you’re addicted to Adderall, you may continue to take the substance despite negative consequences for your mental and physical health. This is often the clearest sign of Adderall addiction.

Adderall Addiction Treatment

Adderall addiction is a serious condition – but there is plenty of help and support available. Professional addiction treatment programs can support you to overcome addiction and rediscover your best self.

Substance abuse treatment centers usually offer a variety of evidence-based treatment options in an individualized treatment plan that suits each client’s needs. Treatment approaches may include:

  • talk therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • group programming
  • support groups
  • family therapy
  • yoga and mindfulness
  • dual-diagnosis

The treatment process often begins with medical detox to remove all traces of a substance and its harmful toxins from the body. Detox alone, however, is rarely sufficient for long-term abstinence.

Instead, addiction treatment supports you to identify the underlying causes of addiction and develop the skills to overcome them. For many people, recovery is a meaningful journey of personal growth and development that equips them to rejoin society and make the most of life.


Cornerstone is a premier addiction treatment center in Southern California. We are dedicated to helping clients achieve long-term recovery, offering a broad range of treatment experiences to cater to every individual. Whether you’re looking for detoxification, primary residential care, extended care, day treatment, day or evening outpatient programs, or a licensed recovery home, we can design a recovery program for you.

Our comprehensive treatment programs combine top-tier clinical care with holistic mind-body healing. Our state-of-the-art facilities offer advanced treatment technologies, experiential activities, and plenty of space for meditation and relaxation. Our expert team offers social and legal support as well as medical care, ensuring you are fully prepared for a sober life.

At Cornerstone, we believe in the healing power of community. When you enter our center, you become part of our family – a strong and compassionate support system that will guide you through the challenges ahead. We maintain a welcoming and comfortable environment built upon compassion, integrity, and respect – and stay connected to you even after you have left the center.

If you are living with Adderall addiction or another substance use disorder, contact us today. One of our expert team members can answer any questions, offer confidential advice, and guide you through the next steps.