Medication effects can vary between individuals, and guidance from a healthcare professional is essential for safe and effective treatment. The information below is strictly intended for general information purposes.
Adderall (Amphetamine/dextroamphetamine) is a medication that is used to manage and treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is classified as a stimulant of the central nervous system, and it is FDA-approved for the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD. Adderall is considered a first-line treatment for ADHD in adults and children aged six and up, and it is also used as a second-line treatment for narcolepsy. (1)
It is important that people with mood or behavioral disorders take their medication as prescribed by their psychiatrist since these conditions can appear again, even after successful treatment. Therefore, constant communication and follow-up with their physician(s) are necessary when treating ADHD or narcolepsy.
However, there is another side of the story that can complicate things a bit. This side involves the side effects of the drugs, which can affect the brain directly, and this is precisely why precautions need to be practiced when taking them.
This article reviews the side effects of Amphetamine/Dextroamphetamine, which is used for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and is available in the markets by the name of Adderall.
Potential of Abuse:
Although this is not exactly a side effect, it is important to be aware of the potential abuse that Adderall harbors. Its mechanism of action may lead to feelings of euphoria, and patients who are advised to use Adderall for a long time may develop the habit of using it without any indication as well. (2)
Additionally, longer usage of Adderall may lead a person to develop the habit of using it for recreational purposes. This is because it increases the dopamine levels in the brain multiple times more than the actual needed amount, which reinforces the habit of using it.
Ask your physician for proper information about the potential for abuse of amphetamines and follow their advice on how to prevent it.
Adderall – What Does It Do
Adderall has been approved for usage by children with ADHD and, therefore, it is prescribed only by experienced healthcare professionals. (1)
As far as the mechanism of action of Adderall is concerned, it is seen to exert its effect on dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, three chemicals present in the brain. All these neurotransmitters are seen to be linked with increased feelings of happiness and satisfaction. It is seen that when a dose of Adderall is taken, it works to increase the levels of both dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
Once these levels increase or return back to their normal state, there is a noticeable increase in attention span, focus, concentration, and better impulse control. All these factors help patients with ADHD adapt to a normal lifestyle. (3)
On the other hand, Adderall also works to block or inhibit the reuptake of both dopamine and norepinephrine into the nerve terminals. When this reuptake mechanism is blocked, it is clear that more dopamine and norepinephrine would be available to be taken up by the neurons, thereby improving the effect of Adderall altogether.
So in short, Adderall stimulates the central nervous system. This stimulation can improve attention span and focus and reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity in individuals with ADHD.
Side Effects of Adderall
Despite providing a good profile regarding the benefits for and treatment of ADHD, Adderall is also seen to exhibit a side effect profile.
The side effects usually resolve on their own in a bit of time, but it is important to be aware of them so that the individual taking Adderall may report the appearance of any of them as soon as they start to show up. (4)
Here is a brief overview of some serious side effects seen with the usage of Adderall.
Central Nervous System Side Effects
Amphetamines administration causes a variety of dose-dependent behavioral changes, including increased arousal or wakefulness, decreased appetite, hyperactivity, perseverative movements, and, most notably, a state of pleasurable affect, elation, and euphoria, which can lead to medication abuse.
Adderall is seen to increase the heart rate in many individuals. In doing so, it might also lead to people developing hypertensive episodes, which might be alarming for the patient. (5)
This side effect is mainly of concern in older patients who are already suffering from comorbidities such as hypertension or other cardiovascular diseases and consequently, also develop a hypertensive crisis following their treatment with Adderall. (6)
Therefore, it is very important to tell your doctor of any pre-existing conditions you may have.
Common Adderall Side Effects
- Loss of appetite;
- Lack of sleep;
- Weight loss;
- Emotional lability;
- Dry mouth;
- Rapid heartbeats;
- Nausea and vomiting;
- Urinary tract infections. (7)
In a nutshell, Adderall is a very potent and beneficial drug that is used widely for the treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD in both children and adults. It is an FDA-approved drug and has been proven a safe and effective drug to be used by patients with these conditions.
Adderall works to restore the balance of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which in turn helps to keep the brain attentive, focused, and in a balanced state of mind. This helps alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.
However, there are adverse effects associated with the usage of Adderall and they might complicate the prescription of this drug altogether. However, with the appropriate dosing and the correct duration specified for the treatment, these side effects could be very much avoided. Follow your doctor’s suggestions on how to keep your treatment safe and effective.
Follow your doctor’s suggestions on how to keep your treatment safe and effective, and also to make sure this information applies to you. Remember to ask your doctor any questions you may have when initiating or during your treatment.
The list of side effects presented herein may be incomplete, or side effects may be unreported. You can help report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch
1. Who Should Not Take Adderall?
The side effects of Adderall might not allow patients with some pre-existing conditions to take the drug. These conditions include cardiovascular diseases, uncontrolled hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and glaucoma. It is best if these patients consult their doctors before taking any prescription medication.
2. Is It Completely Safe For Me To Take Adderall Daily?
If taken within the prescribed limits and for the time that your psychiatrist thinks is the right time for the entire duration of treatment, then Adderall may be safe for you. However, exceeding that duration or continuing to take the drug for long periods can cause you to develop reactions against the drug.
3. If I Need Better Focus In My Life, Can I Take Adderall?
Certainly not! Although Adderall is an FDA-approved drug and has been declared effective for use in conditions such as ADHD and narcolepsy, it is always best to consult your doctor first before you dive into self-diagnosing your symptoms.
4. Are The Side Effects Of Adderall Serious?
Unfortunately, some of them are. Although the side effects of Adderall might not show up in every other person whenever they do, they are indeed supposed to be taken seriously or lethal consequences can also occur.
5. How Successful Is Adderall In Treating Patients With ADHD?
It has been estimated that between 75 of the patients who take Adderall benefit greatly from it. These patients reported to have noticed a significant improvement in their symptoms after completing their treatment course. (8)
- Martin D, Le JK. Amphetamine. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 5]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556103/
- Sharbaf Shoar N, Marwaha R, Molla M. Dextroamphetamine-Amphetamine. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 [cited 2023 Jul 6]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507808/
- Faraone SV. The pharmacology of amphetamine and methylphenidate: Relevance to the neurobiology of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other psychiatric comorbidities. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2018 Apr 1;87:255–70. The pharmacology of amphetamine and methylphenidate: Relevance to the neurobiology of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and other psychiatric comorbidities.
- Berman SM, Kuczenski R, McCracken JT, London ED. Potential Adverse Effects of Amphetamine Treatment on Brain and Behavior: A Review. Mol Psychiatry. 2009 Feb;14(2):123–42. Potential adverse effects of amphetamine treatment on brain and behavior: a review – PubMed (nih.gov)
- Sichilima T, Rieder MJ. Adderall and cardiovascular risk: A therapeutic dilemma. Paediatr Child Health. 2009 Mar;14(3):193–5. Adderall and cardiovascular risk: A therapeutic dilemma.
- Hurley SW, Beltz TG, Guo F, Xue B, Johnson AK. Amphetamine-induced sensitization of hypertension and lamina terminalis neuroinflammation. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2020 Mar 1;318(3):R649–56. Amphetamine-induced sensitization of hypertension and lamina terminalis neuroinflammation
- Food and Drug Administration, ADDERALL XR® (Amphetamine/Dextroamphetamine), oral capsules, prescribing information, Feb 2022. Adderall XR label (fda.gov)
- McGough JJ, Biederman J, Wigal SB, Lopez FA, McCracken JT, Spencer T, et al. Long-term tolerability and effectiveness of once-daily mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall XR) in children with ADHD. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;44(6):530–8. Long-term tolerability and effectiveness of once-daily mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall XR) in children with ADHD – PubMed (nih.gov)