Adderall is a prescription drug used primarily to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adderall is a combination of active ingredients, which are dextroamphetamine and amphetamine salts. This medication is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. 

There are potential long-term effects of Adderall to be aware of, and the risk of these effects and their severity tends to increase when someone abuses the drug recreationally rather than prescribed. For this reason, it is important to take Adderall only as prescribed by your doctor.

Is Adderall Bad for You Long-term?

When taken as prescribed by your doctor, the benefits of Adderall usually outweigh the risks. Long-term stimulant use in ADHD is generally defined as taking the stimulant for more than a year.

Many studies have been conducted about the long-term use of stimulants like Adderall in ADHD and found the medication is generally safe, with no negative long-term impact. However, the same is not true for people abusing Adderall long-term, who are at risk for several different psychiatric and physical side effects.

Long-term Effects of Adderall on the Brain

There are many long-term effects of Adderall on the brain, and with physical Adderall effects, the severity tends to increase when someone abuses the drug. When someone takes Adderall, it works by changing the presence of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. With repeated abuse, these changes can become ongoing or lead to psychiatric side effects.

When taken as prescribed for ADHD, stimulants like Adderall can benefit the brain, even reducing the risk of depression and suicide.

Unfortunately, long-term abuse of Adderall may lead to the opposite. While rare, long-term Adderall abuse can lead to mental health issues such as:

  • Increased hostility
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Symptoms of bipolar disorder
  • Symptoms of psychosis

One specific condition that can occur with long-term Adderall abuse is called stimulant-induced psychosis. Symptoms of stimulant-induced psychosis include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Disorganized thinking

When someone abuses Adderall for long periods, it can also lead them to feel a loss of motivation, particularly when they’re not taking the drug. Someone who misuses Adderall may start to feel like they can’t function or perform well in school or at work without it. Someone who abused Adderall for a long time may be unable to experience pleasure without using the drug.

Addiction and dependence are also potential long-term effects of Adderall on the brain. Someone becomes addicted to Adderall with repeated exposure because the drug can activate their reward response. When someone is addicted to Adderall, their reward response triggers them to continue using it despite negative side effects. Physical dependence can form with or without addiction. Someone dependent on Adderall will go through withdrawal if they stop using the drug suddenly. Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Vivid dreams or nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Increased appetite

Permanent Effects of Adderall on Brain Functioning

Long-term Adderall use does not appear to negatively impact brain functioning, cognitive ability or mental health in those who take Adderall as prescribed for ADHD.

However, if someone abuses a stimulant like Adderall, long-term mental health issues may develop due to changes in the brain’s cell structure. These changes can include:

  • Increased hostility
  • Increased depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased aggression
  • Severe mood swings
  • Psychotic symptoms

Long-term Effects of Adderall on the Body

There are long-term physical effects of Adderall. As a stimulant of the CNS, Adderall speeds up processes controlled by the CNS. This increase can lead to short- and long-term effects, including increased blood pressure and heart rate. Other long-term physical effects of Adderall can include:

  • Increased risk of stroke and heart attack and a weakened heart muscle
  • Increased risk of seizures
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Extreme weight loss

In children, Adderall may lead to long-term growth suppression.

Long-term Adderall Use & Personality Changes

Although taking Adderall as prescribed for ADHD does not lead to personality changes, abusing the medication can change the cell structure of the brain’s neurons and lead to long-term personality changes like aggression, hostility and paranoia. This may occur because a person who takes Adderall without a medical reason may develop a dopamine deficiency, contributing to these symptoms.

Adderall Addiction

As a Schedule II controlled substance, Adderall carries a high risk of abuse, addiction and dependence. For this reason, it should only be taken as prescribed by your doctor. Symptoms of Adderall addictioninclude:

  • Spending a lot of time taking or trying to get Adderall
  • Going to multiple doctors and pharmacies to try to get Adderall
  • Stealing, borrowing or buying Adderall from someone else
  • Taking more Adderall, or for a longer time than intended
  • Ignoring family, school or work obligations because of Adderall
  • Social or interpersonal problems because of Adderall
  • Taking Adderall when it’s hazardous to do so 
  • Needing larger doses of Adderall for it to be effective
  • Withdrawal symptoms if you try to quit or cut back on Adderall

Finding Adderall Addiction Treatment in Orlando, FL

Adderall addiction potential is considered one of the effects of Adderall use. Only using Adderall as instructed reduces the risk of an addiction developing. If you or someone you care about is addicted to Adderall, Orlando Recovery Center can provide professional help to avoid the severe mental and physical effects its use can cause. Contact us to speak to a representative about how personalized addiction treatment programs can work for you. You deserve a healthier future.

Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.