The Top 7 Myths About Adderall

Adderall, a prescription medication used to treat ADHD, is also a common substance of abuse. Often referred to as a “smart drug” or “study drug,” misconceptions about Adderall mask the real risks. This drug is habit-forming and causes side effects. While for many people prescribed Adderall, the benefits outweigh the risks, misuse is never safe. Get the truth before using this or any other drug you have not been prescribed.

Adderall misuse is rising among young people, as are emergency room visits and overdoses related to this prescription stimulant. Many people, not just teens and young adults, misuse Adderall to stay awake, to focus, or to study. Unfortunately, a lot of myths about this drug persist. The most important truth to understand about Adderall is that it is not safe to misuse, ever.

What Is Adderall?


Adderall is the brand name for amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Doctors most often prescribe it for the management of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Although a stimulant, Adderall helps focus the mind, remain calm, and control impulses. A less common use for Adderall is to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder.

The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies amphetamine as a schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse and can cause physical and psychological dependence. Other potential risks or side effects of Adderall include nervousness, dry mouth, diarrhea or constipation, changes in sexual function, headaches, nausea, and weight loss.

People who misuse Adderall do so for one or more of several reasons: to stay awake, for instance to study or for a long drive; to focus the mind for academic work; to counteract the depressive effects of other substances like alcohol; or to lose weight.

Dangerous Adderall Myths


Regardless of the reason for misusing this prescription, the risks are serious. No amount of abuse of Adderall is safe, but harmful myths continue to lead people to believe otherwise.

  1. MYTH: Adderall is safe because it’s a prescription.

The benefits of Adderall generally outweigh the potential side effects and risks for those prescribed the drug and who are taking it as directed. But no prescription is without any risk and should never be used if there is no need for it. Too many people assume that legality means a drug is safe. Any misuse of Adderall is risky and dangerous. There are several ways it may cause harm:

  • Side effects like headaches, nervousness, and digestive distress
  • Difficulty sleeping, insomnia
  • Allergic reactions
  • Addiction
  • High blood pressure and heart problems
  • Death

Taking any prescription drug without a doctor’s guidance is risky. A doctor has not evaluated your health or determined if Adderall is safe for you. Even taking someone else’s prescription one time can be dangerous.

  1. MYTH: Adderall is safe because it’s my prescription.

Misuse of a prescription refers not just to taking a drug you have not been prescribed, but also to using your own prescription drug differently from how your doctor directed. Taking more than the recommended dose or taking a drug longer or more often are all abusive behaviors. Your doctor has prescribed and dosed the drug just for you, taking into account your health and medical history.

  1. MYTH: Taking Adderall is no worse than using legal stimulants.

People who misuse Adderall do so not to get high, but for its stimulating properties. They want to focus better or stay awake longer. It’s true that legal stimulants, like caffeine, are used for the same purposes, but there are big differences.

Adderall has a much bigger effect on the brain. It triggers changes in neurotransmitters much more so than caffeine or even nicotine. The next time you need to concentrate or stay up late to study, a cup of coffee is a much safer option than a prescription drug.

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  1. MYTH: Adderall will make you smarter.

There are a couple of misconceptions behind this common myth. Adderall is a stimulant, which means it increases the activity of the central nervous system, including the brain. This does not make you smarter.

Another misconception is that because Adderall helps people with ADHD focus, it will make studying or writing a paper easier or more effective. Adderall can keep you awake longer, but it will not make you better at school or work.

  1. MYTH: Adderall is not addictive.

Amphetamine is highly addictive. When taken according to a doctor’s instructions, the risk of developing a habit is lower but still exists. Any use of a habit-forming drug puts you at risk for dependence, both psychological and physical.

Addiction is a serious illness that is chronic and requires ongoing treatment. Becoming addicted to Adderall also increases the risks of other complications like worse side effects, overdose, and even death.

  1. MYTH: Adderall is fine as an occasional party drug.

Some people misuse Adderall when partying. They want to be able to stay up longer. Alcohol has depressive effects, so when you drink, you may get a little sleepy. Taking a stimulant to counteract this effect may seem sensible and low-risk, but it is not.

Combining Adderall with alcohol is dangerous for a couple of reasons. Because it stimulates the brain, Adderall can mask how much alcohol you have consumed. You may end up drinking more than you intended as a result. The two substances together in the body can also cause problems including increased heart rate and blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. The combination also lowers your inhibitions, which could lead to harmful and impulsive behaviors.

  1. MYTH: Adderall is only dangerous to my physical health.

Even those who understand the serious risks of misusing Adderall on physical health may fail to realize that it can also harm mental health. As a stimulant, it revs up your brain activity and may increase feelings of nervousness and jitteriness. If you struggle with anxiety, Adderall can make it worse.

Self-medicating is also harmful for mental health because it prevents you from treating the underlying causes of substance abuse. Depression, stress, anxiety about school or work, and other mental health issues can be managed in healthier ways, but you are unlikely to get help if you mask them with drug use.

If you or someone you know is misusing Adderall, take steps now to reach out or to get help. The potential dangers are too great to risk misusing this drug. Addiction is one of the biggest dangers of misusing Adderall, but treatment can help. Professional support in a residential treatment facility can help you kick this habit and learn healthier ways to cope with the feelings and situations that led to drug use.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders.

Contact us today to start the journey toward lasting recovery.