Adderall is a stimulant medication primarily used in the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). It comes in two forms:

  • Adderall oral tablet
  • Adderall XR extended-release oral capsule

According to research, Adderall helps decrease impulsivity in people living with ADHD. It also promotes increased attention and improves the ability to focus.

Doctors may also prescribe Adderall to treat narcolepsy, since it may help people living with this condition stay awake during the day.

Since Adderall and other stimulants can help increase attention, focus, and wakefulness, they’re sometimes misused, especially by students. People trying to lose weight might also misuse these drugs, since they’re known to cause a loss of appetite.

Using Adderall for anything other than its intended purpose, especially at higher doses than prescribed by a doctor, can lead to dependency and addiction.

If you take too much Adderall, you can develop a dependency and eventually need more to experience the same effect. This can be dangerous to your health.

Adderall can not only cause changes in your brain chemistry and function, it may also lead to heart damage, digestive problems, and other unwanted side effects.

Read on to learn more about possible side effects of Adderall, how to reverse these effects, and the best way to stop taking Adderall.

Students and other people who want to get a lot of work done in a short period of time might turn to Adderall for a quick boost to their concentration and memory.

But 2018 research suggests Adderall doesn’t always have much of an effect for people who don’t have ADHD. In fact, it might even lead to memory impairment — the exact opposite of the desired effect.

Adderall can cause other unwanted side effects. When a doctor monitors your Adderall use, they can help keep track of these effects and adjust your dose to reduce or eliminate them.

Some common short-term side effects of Adderall include:

  • appetite loss
  • digestive problems, including nausea and constipation
  • restlessness
  • heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat
  • dry mouth
  • mood changes, including anxiety, agitation, and irritability
  • head pain
  • sleep issues

These side effects can differ from person to person. They might also vary by age. Side effects often go away after a week or two of using the drug. Some people taking Adderall at a dose prescribed by a doctor may not experience noticeable side effects.

Rarely, Adderall can cause serious side effects like delusions, hallucinations, or other symptoms of psychosis.

Some side effects, such as heart problems, mood changes, or psychotic symptoms, can be dangerous. While these symptoms may go away before long, it’s important to talk to your doctor if you have symptoms that affect your daily life, seem unusual, or make you feel concerned in any way.

Adderall can help you feel more energized, focused, motivated, and productive. You might also feel euphoric. But over time, this experience can change.

Instead, you might notice:

  • weight loss
  • stomach problems
  • head pain
  • decreased energy or fatigue
  • anxiety, panic, low or irritable mood, and other emotional changes

Heart problems and increased risk for stroke

Long-term misuse of Adderall may lead to heart problems and increase your risk for stroke or heart attack.

Dependency and addiction

Another significant long-term effect of heavy Adderall use is dependence on the drug.

If you take high doses of Adderall for a long time, your brain may become dependent on the drug and eventually produce less dopamine. You might experience:

  • mood changes, including low moods
  • irritability
  • lethargy

You may have trouble enjoying things you usually enjoy. You’ll eventually need more Adderall to get the same effect. Over time, addiction can result.

Adderall best practices

Adderall dosage can vary, so determining what amount is considered heavy use isn’t always easy. In general, you should not:

  • take more Adderall than your doctor prescribes
  • take Adderall if you don’t have a prescription
  • take Adderall more frequently than instructed by your doctor

Changes in mood and libido

Over the long term, Adderall can sometimes cause changes in mood and behavior, especially when used in high doses. These changes may affect interpersonal and romantic relationships.

Some men who use Adderall feel less interested in sex or experience erectile dysfunction, especially if they take high doses for a long period of time. These side effects can also affect romantic relationships. They might also lead to frustration or other emotional distress.

Talking to a therapist about changes in mood can help, especially if Adderall otherwise helps improve ADHD or other symptoms you experience.

Long-term use of Adderall at high doses can cause significant side effects, including changes in how your brain produces neurotransmitters. But many of these side effects may be reversible once you stop taking Adderall.

Experts are still studying the potential long-term effects of Adderall, especially when it’s taken at high doses.

Some physical side effects associated with Adderall use, such as heart damage, may not improve over time.

Taking Adderall under a doctor’s supervision, at a dose prescribed by a doctor, is usually not associated with permanent brain changes.

If you experience unwanted side effects, talk to your healthcare provider. If you’ve been taking Adderall without a prescription, it’s even more important to get medical support, especially if you’re becoming dependent on the drug.

Adderall is known to be helpful for people with ADHD. It can help reduce impulsiveness and promote increased focus, concentration, and memory. But along with these beneficial effects, you could also experience unwanted side effects.

If you stop taking Adderall, these side effects usually begin clearing up within a few days, but it may take several days for the drug to completely leave your system.

If you’ve taken high doses of Adderall for a long time, you might experience withdrawal when you stop. Medical support can help you manage withdrawal symptoms as you slowly decrease usage until you’re no longer using the drug.

Stopping use suddenly isn’t recommended. Talk to your healthcare provider about tapering off Adderall. They can help determine a safe decrease in dosage and monitor and treat side effects.

Talking to a therapist can help if you’re struggling with mood changes or other mental health symptoms. Therapy can also help you work through cravings and other side effects of addiction.

Adderall is generally safe for most people to use. But it can cause side effects, some of which can be serious.

Talk to your doctor right away if you experience:

  • heart palpitations
  • paranoia
  • delusions or hallucinations
  • changes in mood, including irritability, depression, or anxiety
  • thoughts of suicide

If any of your symptoms seem serious or make you feel concerned, talk to your healthcare provider. You should always let your doctor know about any side effects you experience while taking medication.

If you become pregnant or want to become pregnant, let your healthcare provider know right away. Adderall isn’t considered safe for use during pregnancy.

Let your doctor know about any existing health conditions before you start taking Adderall. You shouldn’t take Adderall with some medications or if you have certain health issues.

Although Adderall can cause a number of different side effects, many of these — especially those associated with long-term use — are rare when you take Adderall at a dose prescribed by your doctor.

You’re more likely to experience side effects when you take Adderall at higher doses, or if you aren’t taking Adderall to treat a specific condition.

Medical experts consider Adderall a drug that’s generally safe for many people. But it’s important to tell your doctor about any side effects you experience.

If Adderall causes unwanted side effects that affect your day-to-day functioning or quality of life, your doctor may lower your dose or suggest a different drug.

Stopping Adderall suddenly can cause other unwanted side effects. If you’re having trouble with Adderall, talk to a healthcare provider who can help you get off the drug safely.

You may worry how a healthcare provider will react if you’ve been taking Adderall, or any other drug, without a prescription. But side effects of Adderall can be serious, sometimes even life-threatening, so it’s best to get help sooner rather than later.