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Teen Adderall Abuse

This prescription stimulant drug is intended to alleviate symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy. However, many teens use Adderall without a prescription, risking chronic depression, life-altering addiction or even sudden death.

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4 min read

Dangers and Side Effects of Adderall Abuse

Adderall was created to help people who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or the sleep disorder narcolepsy. But because Adderall can deliver a powerful high, hundreds of thousands of teenagers abuse this stimulant drug each year.

Because Adderall is a prescribed drug, it offers a guise of safety. However, abuse of the drug is anything but safe — each year, it leads to hundreds of emergency room visits (1,489 in 2011 alone), wherein people tend to exhibit the following problems:

  • Insomnia
  • Panic and anxiety attacks
  • Sudden spike in blood pressure
  • Extreme agitation
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Heart attack and stroke

Is Adderall Addictive?

Adderall is an addictive drug, and its abuse can lead to a powerful addiction. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) groups this drug as a Schedule II drug, which signifies that Adderall has a high potential for abuse and also for physical and psychological addiction. To add context, other Schedule II substances include cocaine, methamphetamine and opioids (e.g. oxycodone, opium, etc.).

Especially when compared to other drugs that are not as restricted, you can get addicted to Adderall quite easily. In cases of teen ADHD or narcolepsy — even with a doctor’s prescription — young people are not immune to the pull of an Adderall addiction.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant that impacts the body’s central nervous system, enhancing focus, alertness and energy. It floods the brain with the “feel good” chemical dopamine, which imparts a feeling of elation. Due to this intense impact, once your teen starts using Adderall to get high, it can be hard for them to stop.

An amphetamine mixture, Adderall is chemically related to meth, the notoriously addictive drug made even more famous by the hit show Breaking Bad.

Some addicted teens originally received a legitimate ADHD diagnosis from their doctor and were prescribed this medication to help alleviate symptoms such as inattentiveness. However, most teens who abuse Adderall do not begin at the doctor’s office; they often obtain the drug from friends or family members who have a prescription.

The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 614,000 teens aged 12–17 had abused Adderall at least once in their lives. Boys are slightly more likely than girls to abuse Adderall, though the practice is rampant among both genders.


Adderall as a Smart Drug

Since ADHD medications improve concentration, they’ve become known among teens as drugs that aid studying, whether or not they have ADHD. Drugs like Adderall, Concerta and Ritalin are referred to as smart drugs and are commonly taken by teens who wish to boost their academic performance.

In 2014, 6.8% of teens said they’d abused study drugs within the past year.

Factors such as parental pressure and increasing academic competition drive teenagers to gain whatever competitive edge they can — even if it means abusing substances. Despite the American Academy of Neurologists’ plea for teens to stop abusing study aid drugs, Adderall remains a commonly abused cognitive enhancer.

Street Names for Adderall

If you hear your teen use any of these street names for Adderall, pay close attention to the situation:

  • Addys
  • Uppers
  • Copilots
  • Beans
  • Bennies
  • Black beauties
  • Pep pills or red pep
  • Speed
  • Lid poppers
  • Dexies
  • Zing

Adderall Addiction Signs

Just like most cases of prescription drug addiction, an addiction to Adderall is associated with some red flags. Whether or not your child has a prescription for Adderall, be alert and take action if you see any of these signs:

  • Inability to complete tasks without Adderall
  • Feeling lethargic without Adderall
  • Taking Adderall when not prescribed it
  • Requiring larger and larger doses of Adderall to achieve the same effect
  • Continuing to take Adderall, despite negative life consequences
  • Devoting great energy, time or money to obtaining Adderall
  • Experiencing withdrawal when without Adderall

Adderall Withdrawal

Like most habit-forming substances, drug withdrawal happens when addicted users go without the substance. Symptoms of Adderall withdrawal include:

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Weakness
  • Chills
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness

Does Your Teen Need Adderall Abuse Help?

If you think your teen may be abusing Adderall, act now. Do not wait for things to get better on their own — these situations almost never improve without intervention. Your first step is to consult a substance abuse professional, which could be your child’s guidance counselor, a local therapist who specializes in substance abuse issues, or one of our compassionate addiction advisors at, whose confidential help is available for free.

We know that this is incredibly difficult on your whole family — and the stigma of addiction certainly doesn’t make things any easier on you. We’re here for you, whether you need help finding a local treatment professional who specializes in addiction, you’d like a list of vetted teen rehab facilities, or you need help figuring out if your insurance covers rehab. Whatever you need, we are here to help. And most importantly, we will never give up on your child.

We’ve seen the heartbreak of teen addiction, but we’ve also witnessed the strength found in recovery. There is always hope. Get in touch with us to talk about your family’s situation, and we will guide you to the next step. Your child is more than worth the call.


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