Adderall is a prescription medication that contains two drugs: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It belongs to a class of medications called stimulants. It’s most commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s also used to treat narcolepsy.
Adderall is considered a first-choice treatment option for ADHD. Studies show that it improves attention and focus, and reduces impulsive behaviors. Between 75 percent and 80 percentTrusted Source of children with ADHD will see improved symptoms with the use of stimulants such as Adderall.
Adderall is also effective for increasing daytime wakefulness in people with narcolepsy, although there is little related research available.
Adderall comes in two forms:
- Adderall oral tablet
- Adderall XR extended-release oral capsule
Is Adderall a controlled substance?
The government has created special regulations that determine how controlled substances are prescribed and dispensed. These regulations also require that you get a new prescription from your doctor for each refill.
Adderall oral tablet and Adderall XR extended-release oral capsule are both available in generic forms. The generic name for the drug in both the tablet and the capsule is amphetamine/dextroamphetamine salts.
Generic drugs usually cost less than the brand-name version. In some cases, the brand-name drug and the generic version may be available in different forms and strengths.
Adderall contains a mixture of different forms of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Specifically, these forms include amphetamine aspartate, amphetamine sulfate, dextroamphetamine saccharate, and dextroamphetamine sulfate.
Adderall can cause mild or serious side effects. The following list contains some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Adderall. This list doesn’t include all possible side effects.
For more information on the possible side effects of Adderall, or tips on how to deal with a troubling side effect, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
More common side effects
The more common side effects of Adderall can include:
- lack of appetite
- dry mouth
- trouble sleeping
- stomach pain
- weight loss
These side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.
Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
- heart problems including high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, heart attack, and stroke
- impaired or delusional thinking
- agitated or aggressive behavior
- blurred vision
- severe allergic reaction
- muscle breakdown called rhabdomyolysis
Adderall is safe to use long term when taken at doctor-recommended dosages. For many people, common side effects such as loss of appetite, dry mouth, or insomnia are reduced with continued use of the drug. For others, these side effects may continue.
Long-term use of Adderall or other stimulants may cause some changes in the brain, such as decreases in the amount of the chemical messenger dopamine. This seems more likely to happen in people who abuse Adderall in high doses.
When Adderall is misused or abused, long-term use can lead to physical and psychological dependence. Inappropriate use can lead to many serious side effects, including:
- severe insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- skin disorders
- moodiness or irritability
- symptoms of psychosis such as aggression and hallucinations
- heart damage
- anorexia and unwanted weight loss
When taken at typical doses for conditions such as ADHD, Adderall doesn’t usually cause a feeling of being high.
Some people who take Adderall may experience feelings of being energetic, focused, excited, or self-confident. Feelings of euphoria also sometimes occur. These effects are more likely when the medication is misused or abused.
Headache is one of the most common side effects of Adderall. In some studies, headache occurred in up to 26 percent of people who took Adderall XR. This side effect may decrease with continued use of the drug.
Nausea is a common side effect of Adderall. In some studies, nausea occurred in 5 percent to 8 percent of people taking Adderall XR. This side effect may decrease with continued use of the drug.
Most men who take Adderall don’t experience erectile dysfunction, but some report being less interested in sex. If you experience this side effect and it doesn’t go away, talk with your doctor.
Men who abuse amphetamines such as Adderall can experience erectile dysfunction as well as increases or decreases in sexual desire.
Constipation is a common side effect of Adderall. In some studies, constipation occurred in 2 percent to 4 percent of people who took Adderall XR. This side effect may decrease with continued use of the drug.
Some people who take Adderall have reported hair loss. However, it’s not clear how often this occurs or if Adderall was the cause of this effect.
Symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations, agitation, or disordered thinking, are a rare side effect of Adderall. In some cases, these symptoms have occurred in people taking typical, recommended doses of Adderall.
Symptoms of psychosis are more likely to occur in people who have a history of psychosis before they start taking Adderall. They’re also more common in people who misuse or abuse Adderall.
If you have this side effect while taking Adderall, talk with your doctor right away. You may need to stop taking Adderall.
Some people who take Adderall report increased sweating. This seems to occur in about 2 percent to 4 percent of people taking Adderall XR. This side effect may decrease with continued use of the drug.
Insomnia, or trouble sleeping, is one of the most common side effects of Adderall. As much as 27 percent of people who take Adderall XR can have insomnia. This side effect may decrease with continued use of the drug.
People with a healthy heart don’t usually have chest pain while taking Adderall. If you do, it might mean that you have a heart condition.
If you have chest pain after taking Adderall, call your doctor right away.
Fatigue may be more common in people who misuse or abuse Adderall, especially in higher doses. Also, people who have become dependent on Adderall can experience extreme fatigue if they stop taking the drug.
Side effects in children
Some children can have slightly slowed growth in height and weight while taking Adderall. This is usually temporary, and growth typically catches up over time. Your doctor will monitor your child’s growth during treatment with Adderall.
In some cases, if a child’s growth is slowed too much, the child’s doctor may stop their treatment with Adderall.
Adderall can have some effects on your eyes.
Although rare, blurred vision or trouble focusing can occur in some people who take Adderall.
If you experience blurred vision that doesn’t go away with continued use of Adderall, talk with your doctor.
Effect on pupils
In some cases, Adderall can temporarily cause your pupils — the black centers of your eyes — to dilate (become bigger). For most people, this isn’t a problem. However, for people with glaucoma, this effect could worsen their condition. People with glaucoma shouldn’t take Adderall.
If you experience any changes in your vision that don’t go away with continued use of Adderall, talk with your doctor.
The Adderall dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re using Adderall to treat
- your age
- the form of Adderall you take
- other medical conditions you may have
Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dosage and adjust it over time to reach the dosage that’s right for you. They’ll ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to suit your needs.