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Adderall Dependence

Who Can Become Dependent On Adderall?

Just about anyone!

…anyone who uses Adderall repeatedly or on daily basis for a prolonged period of time, that is. Long term use is considered to be 3 weeks and more for children, and 4+ weeks for adults. It is in this period of time that it is expected for your body to adapt to the presence of Adderall and develop dependence.

In this article we cover more about what Adderall dependence REALLY is and why it is different from Adderall addiction. Then, we help you identify dependence in yourself or a loved one, and find effective treatment methods that can help. At the end, we welcome you to send us your questions via the comments section at the bottom of the page.


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What is Adderall Dependence?

Dependence on Adderall occurs over time and with regular dosing. In fact, drug dependence can develop within a few weeks of prescription use. It occurs when the body becomes accustomed to the presence of Adderall in the central nervous system. The brain adapts to the stimulating effects of the amphetamine salts found in Adderall by “slowing down” some of its processes. This is why after you become drug-dependent, Adderall withdrawal symptoms occur. These symptoms are the most certain indicator that you have developed a physical dependence.

Reasons Why Dependence Occurs

Adderall – amphetamine-dextroamphetamine – is a medication that increases the levels of neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These chemicals are messengers in the reward and motivation pathways of the brain, regulating our emotions and feelings of pleasure.

When you abuse Adderall, the brain senses that there are enough neurotransmitters delivered through an outside source (Adderall), and stops producing them naturally on its own. This activity changes some of the brain’s natural reward circuitry. In fact, the more often you take Adderall, the more ingrained these changes become over time.

This is the reason behind the occurrence of dependence in a nutshell…

Does Adderall Dependence = Addiction?


Adderall dependence is clinically different from addiction. In fact, dependence is a natural adaptation mechanism of the body. It means that the body has become accustomed to having the drug delivered at certain amounts in certain periods of time. A person dependent on Adderall may need to take the drug to avoid withdrawal, but once they get off Adderall they will not crave it anymore.

A person addicted to Adderall, on the other hand, continues to use the drug despite being aware of the negative consequences on their health, school, family, finances, and legal records. Further, addiction is characterized by craving, compulsion, and loss of control over use. When an Adderall addict attempts to stop taking the drug, they usually feel compelled to return to drug use (relapse) as a psychological coping mechanism.

Symptoms of Adderall Dependence

A person dependent on Adderall may exhibit changes in behavior and personality. Here are the notable signs and symptoms of Adderall dependence:

  • Feel depressed, irritable, lethargic, or fatigued when Adderall is removed from the body.
  • Having trouble sleeping and concentrating.
  • Pronounced changes in behavior, such as being prone to aggression and/or paranoia, talking too much, and lacking motivation.
  • There is a need to take Adderall regularly in order to function normally.
  • Withdrawal symptoms occur when Adderall doses are stopped.
  • Withdrawal symptoms occur when Adderall doses lowered significantly.

Is Dependence Normal?

Yes and No.

It is true that dependence can be formed even at regular, therapeutic doses, and in individuals who only take the medication for therapeutic purposes. These individuals’ benefit from medicating their ADHD is far greater than any risks associated with using Adderall, especially when use is monitored by a prescribing physician.

Q: So, when is the line of ‘normalcy’ crossed?
A: When ongoing Adderall use causes widespread chemical imbalances to develop in the brain.

Over time, brain chemical imbalances worsen as you take Adderall; the brain becomes unable to properly function without Adderall. What’s more, we are always aware of our physical processes on a psychological level. This is why people start to believe they cannot live without Adderall and start hanging onto their prescription for dear life. This type of relationship with your medication is not normal.

But, it can be treated!

In fact, Adderall dependence is a medical condition that responds to appropriate medical treatment.

How to End Adderall Dependence?

STEP 1: See your doctor. The best thing you can do for a start is to schedule a checkup with your doctor. Your doctor will assess your health and determine the seriousness of your condition. specifically, you can ask for a brief intervention to assess your Adderall use. Physicians can use brief interventions or assessments to determine if you have a drug problem, and can refer your case to a drug addiction treatment center, if necessary.

STEP 2: Follow a tapering schedule. Additionally, your doctor can create an individualized tapering plan so that you can come off of Adderall slowly and gradually. Tapering is considered to be the best way to withdraw from Adderall. In general, doses are decreased by 10%, usually every week or every other week depending on your needs and physical reaction.

STEP 3: Enter a medical detox clinic. Detoxification treatment may be needed to help you remove all traces of Adderall from the system. Medical supervision is recommended during Adderall detox to help prevent complications or unwanted side effects, and ensure a more safe and comfortable transition. Detox interventions may differ in patients according to their individual degree of Adderall dependence severity.

STEP4: Enter a treatment program. In case your doctor diagnoses that your Adderall use has lead to the development of an addiction, you will be referred to a treatment program to holistically address the problem. Addiction treatment programs can help you manage the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, as well as the root causes for your addictive behavior. This can be done in an outpatient or impatient program.

Got Any Questions?

If you still have questions about Adderall dependence and would you like to know more…feel free to further explore this section of our website. You can also post your questions in the designated section below. We are eager to hear your feedback and will try to respond to personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.

Reference Sources: FDA: Adderall® (CII)
NIDA: Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines
NCBI: Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects
NIDA: Prescription Drugs: Abuse and Addiction
NCBI: Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal
NCBI: Pharmacological approaches to methamphetamine dependence: a focused review

Adderall Dependence

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Is It Hard To Quit Adderall?

September 3rd, 2018

Are you Adderall-dependent and considering quitting? We provide you with information about what to expect during withdrawal. Plus, we review the safe ways for coming off Adderall…with a section at the end for your questions, experiences and concerns.

Adderall detox treatment

Adderall detox treatment

December 27th, 2016

Detox from Adderall can be very uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. Learn here how you can detox from Adderall safely and who can help you get through withdrawal.

44 Tolerance to Adderall

Tolerance to Adderall

November 10th, 2012

Tolerance to Adderall develops more on a weekly to monthly basis, sometimes taking up to 6 months before a doctor has to alter and change the concentration of the medication. However, amphetamines like Adderall usually take longer to develop a tolerance when used for therapeutic purposes. Adderall abuse speeds up the process. More on tolerance to Adderall here.

27 Dependence on Adderall

Dependence on Adderall

June 19th, 2012

Dependence on Adderall occurs after 2-3 weeks of regular use. How can you end Adderall dependence? And how to tell the difference between dependence and addiction? We explore here.

81 Can you get addicted to Adderall?

Can you get addicted to Adderall?

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Yes. You can get addicted to Adderall. Are you? Learn more about how Adderall affects the brain and who’s most likely to get addicted to amphetamines here.

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