5 Signs Your Loved One Is Addicted To Adderall

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 27, 2020

Adderall is quickly becoming one of the most commonly abused prescription medications in the United States. However, recognizing Adderall abuse in your loved one can be difficult. The following is a list of five signs to help identify a loved one who is abusing Adderall.

5 Signs Your Loved One Is Addicted To Adderall

What Is Adderall

Adderall is a stimulant, usually prescribed to individuals struggling with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), because it helps a person maintain focus. It has been used to help people lose weight and also to treat narcolepsy. It is a highly addictive drug, and should only be taken as prescribed. However it is commonly abused by people who are not commonly recognized as individuals who abuse drugs.

Spotting an Adderall addiction is not a simple task. Many people who abuse Adderall are college students, professionals and young adults. These groups seem to be using Adderall as a performance-enhancing drug, similar to an athlete with steroids. These individuals do not seem to begin abusing Adderall recreationally, they seem to be making an attempt to ‘get things done’.

Abusing a powerful stimulant like Adderall can make a person appear driven, focused, and even successful. Over time, however, other standard signs of addiction begin to emerge, and this medication has the potential to do what every other substance of abuse eventually does, ruin the life of the person struggling with the addiction.

Fortunately, there are some early indicators that a person may be abusing Adderall. An inventory of your loved ones recent behaviors and activities can help determine if they may be struggling with an addiction to Adderall. And similar to other addictions, there are ways to help your loved one if they are abusing Adderall.

5 Signs Your Loved One Is Addicted To Adderall

If you know your loved one is prescribed Adderall, the following signs may indicate that they have begun abusing their prescription. Conversely, if you notice these symptoms in your loved one, it may indicate that they have begun misusing Adderall and getting it illegally. In either situation,

It is important to be able to recognize the signs of Adderall addiction.

1. Behavioral Changes Due To Adderall Abuse

Adderall abuse usually begins when a person recognizes that taking Adderall helps a person focus, gives them extra energy, and reduces appetite. When misusing Adderall, a person may think that if a little Adderall helps a little, more Adderall will probably help a lot more.

This train of thought can be extremely dangerous and may result in Adderall addiction. In addition to increased energy and activity, and reduction of appetite, some of the observable behavior changes that occur with Adderall abuse include:

  • extreme talkativeness
  • aggression
  • extremely secretive behaviors
  • crediting Adderall for successes
  • social withdrawal
  • decreased self-care
  • failing to maintain job, education, and family responsibilities
  • withdrawal symptoms when Adderall isn’t available
  • suggesting that others use Adderall to ‘help’

As time goes on, a person may begin to feel overwhelmed and unable to complete tasks they have committed to. Eventually, this can result in job loss, family problems, or any number of devastating consequences.

2. Mental Effects Of Adderall Abuse

Abusing Adderall can result in chemical changes in the brain that may affect mood, alter cognitive ability and increase risk factors for mental health diagnoses. The following are just some of the mental health effects that can occur with Adderall abuse:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • paranoia
  • trouble sleeping
  • hallucinations
  • aggression
  • psychosis

3. Physical Signs Of Adderall Abuse

Adderall is a stimulant, and therefore it causes activation of the central nervous system (CNS). This can result in noticeable physical signs that a person is misusing Adderall, and they can include:

  • weight loss (due to appetite suppression)
  • increased sweating
  • feeling thirsty all the time
  • vomiting
  • repetitive movement or vocalizations (tics)
  • sexual dysfunction
  • crashing
  • sleeping for extended periods of time
  • convulsions
  • jittery or uncontrollable shaking

A person struggling with Adderall misuse may also disclose that they are experiencing some side effects of the drug. Be aware that if a person shares that they are experiencing several of the following, they may be abusing Adderall:

  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • shaky hands
  • racing pulse
  • vision problems
  • pounding heartbeat
  • not eating
  • constipation, diarrhea or other stomach issues.

A trained professional may notice additional symptoms that could go unnoticed by others. Adderall abuse can also increase body temperature and cause problems with breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.

4. Signs Of Adderall Misuse, Abuse and Addiction

When a person abuses Adderall, the medication seems to appear in many different areas of the person’s life. The pills become extremely important and maintaining a supply becomes an overwhelming chore. Some of the signs to watch for with Adderall addiction include:

How The Adderall Is Being Stored

Instead of the person keeping their medication at home with other medications, loose Adderall pills might appear in their vehicles, pockets, plastic baggies, cellophane from cigarette packs, or other unusual places. This may occur because the person feels like that have to take their medication more often, or because they have purchased the pills illegally.

Sometimes, a person struggling with Adderall addiction may have several prescription pill bottles without labels, or the labels have different names on them. They also may keep Adderall inside other medication bottles.

Adderall Paraphernalia

As abuse becomes more frequent, the desire to feel the same effect increases. This can lead to attempting to get more of the drug into the body as quickly as possible. Instead of just swallowing a pill, sometimes, a person who suffers from an Adderall addiction may begin to crush, snort, smoke, or inject the drug to get ‘high’ faster. If a person does this, they generally will leave behind some tell-tale articles used to abuse Adderall, called paraphernalia, which may include:

  • razor blades
  • small, hollow items for snorting (cut straws, pen tops, rolled up money)
  • syringes
  • spoons

Most of these items, as well as other flat surfaces (like mirrors, counters, dressers and tables) may be covered in a light coat of a powdery substance if they are being used to abuse Adderall.

Financial troubles

Maintaining a constant supply of Adderall can be expensive. A person struggling with an Adderall addiction may have trouble taking care of their financial responsibilities. Over time, obtaining Adderall becomes more important than activities that they previously had no trouble affording. Eventually, they may have difficulty paying utilities, affording food, and may even have their utilities disconnected.

5. Patterns Of Addiction With Adderall Abuse

People who struggle with addiction tend to spend a lot of time seeking the drug they are abusing. As tolerance develops (a person has to take more of the drug to feel the same as they did with lower doses of the drug) a person will likely use more of the drug. When they begin to take more of the drug, the person may run out of their supply.

If the person abusing Adderall is prescribed the stimulant, they will likely run out of their prescription before they are supposed to. This can lead to some uncharacteristic patterns of drug seeking, such as:

Doctor Shopping For Adderall Prescriptions

A person struggling with Adderall addiction who is doctor shopping will usually take many trips to different doctors in an attempt to gain access to several different prescriptions for Adderall at the same time. During the appointments, the individual may fake symptoms or pretend existing symptoms are worse than they truly are.

They do this to get a higher milligram dosage, a prescription for more pills at once, or they may be trying to make sure they get the prescription at all. The person also will visit different pharmacies in an attempt to fill these Adderall prescriptions at one time.

“Missing” Prescriptions

A person misusing their Adderall prescription may claim that they have lost their medication and that is why they need more. If they think you also have a prescription for Adderall, they may openly ask you for some of your medication, or they may just steal your prescription from you.

This excuse is often used by people who abuse their personal prescriptions and run out. It tends to be the response when they are questioned by loved ones about why they are doctor shopping, have multiple prescriptions written for the same medication, visiting multiple pharmacies, asking for or stealing others medications, or purchasing the drugs off the street.

This excuse is a red-flag for Adderall abuse. A person who constantly has missing Adderall may be struggling with a substance abuse disorder. Additionally, a person who claims to have had their medication stolen from them without reporting it to the authorities is likely struggling with an Adderall addiction.

Online Activity And Search History

Purchasing Adderall online is not uncommon. If a person has attempted to gain access to additional amounts of Adderall, and failed, they might attempt to purchase it from other countries online. Exploring the online search history may expose this and other questionable patterns. If a person is seeking multiple doctors, searching for information about specific drugs and other similar drugs, or looking up several different pharmacies, it may be in the online search history.

There may also be a cause for concern if a person’s search history is completely blank. A blank search history means that it has been erased. Paranoia and secretive behaviors are both indicators of substance abuse, and deleting one’s search history may indicate that a person has something to hide.

Treatment For Adderall Misuse, Abuse, and Addiction

If your loved one seems to be struggling with an Adderall addiction, there are treatment options available. As with other substance use disorders, professionals do not recommend that a person attempt to stop on their own. A treatment center that provides a detoxification program can help relieve many of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with Adderall abuse or addiction. Please reach out to us today so we can help you and your loved one.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

  • Was this Helpful?
  • YesNo
Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on March 27, 2020

Canton, Massachusetts

Bedrock Recovery Center


Levels of Care:

Payment Options: Insurance Accepted, Self Pay

View Center Profile

Plymouth, Massachusetts

Ohio Recovery Center


Levels of Care:

Payment Options: Insurance Accepted, Self Pay

View Center Profile
Spring Hill Recovery Center


Addiction Resource Logo