Adderall Side Effects
Any time a new medication is prescribed for you or a loved one, the first thing that enters your mind is probably “I need more information on this.” That’s why we have gathered together the information you need to know in one place and used language that’s easy to understand.
How Does Adderall Work?
Adderall is classified as a psychostimulant that is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.
These types of drugs stimulate the central nervous system by blocking the reuptake of norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine into the presynaptic neuron. They also increase the release of norepinephrine and dopamine into the extraneuronal space, keeping them around for longer periods of time.
Secreting norepinephrine is the body’s way of dealing with stress. It helps you make quick decisions when faced with a “fight-or-flight” situation and increases focus. Dopamine is the chemical that gives a reward or hint of euphoria.
Epinephrine is the chemical that puts the body in fight-or-flight. It helps with alertness, focus, and clarity.
All of these drugs in the body are increased with Adderall, thereby helping those with issues such as ADHD and narcolepsy to stay awake, alert, and focused on specific tasks such as school, work, and driving.
How Long Does It Take for Adderall to Work?
There are two different types of Adderall pills available. Each of these pills takes a different amount of time to start working.
Immediate release tablets are available, which begin working in approximately 30 minutes to an hour and can last anywhere between 4-5 hours.
Adderall extended release is another option. Adderall extended release begins to work in approximately 30 minutes to one hour as well. However, their effects last as long as 12 hours, which is much longer than the immediate release tablets.
What Are Some Common Adderall Side Effects?
The typical side effects for Adderall include stomach ache, dizziness, increased blood pressure, issues sleeping, decreased appetite, and nervousness.
Adderall can also affect one’s ability to do potentially dangerous activities such as driving or using machinery. These symptoms are not as serious as some of the other potential side effects of Adderall.
More Serious Adderall Side Effects
There are many more serious side effects that can occur with the use of Adderall.
It can cause changes in eyesight, blurred vision, seizures in patients with a seizure history, stunted or the slowing of growth in both height and weight in children, and serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is a possibly life-threatening complication.
Symptoms of this syndrome include tachycardia (or a fast heartbeat), hypertension/hypotension (or high/low blood pressure), sweating, fever, diarrhea, muscle twitching, muscle stiffness, change in mental status, coma, hallucinations, and agitation. Serotonin syndrome should be monitored for, especially if the patient is taking other medications.
There are three other side effects that have been reported with the use of stimulants like Adderall. These include heart-related complications, mental or psychiatric and circulatory complications.
Heart-related complications can occur such as stroke, heart attack, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and even sudden death in individuals with previous heart defects and disease. Therefore, it is important for patients taking Adderall to monitor their blood pressure and heart rate regularly with treatment.
Mental/Psychiatric complications can happen to any patient taking Adderall. Symptoms can include new or worse behavior or thought patterns, suicidal thoughts, depression, new or worse bipolar symptoms, and/or new or worse aggressive behavior.
In children and in teenagers, new psychotic and manic symptoms can arise such as hearing voices, being suspicious, and believing things that are not true. These symptoms should be monitored for and reported by both parents, family members and physicians of patients using Adderall.
Circulatory complications can occur in patients taking Adderall. Symptoms such as numbness, painfulness, cool to touch, and change in color from pale to blue to red can occur in the fingers and toes of those using Adderall. These symptoms can be signs of further complications such as Raynaud’s disease or other peripheral vasculopathy issues.
Do Adderall Side Effects Go Away?
The common side effects that occur with Adderall such as headaches, stomachaches may go away once the body gets used to the drug.
The decrease in appetite may take longer to go away if at all. Other complications such as moodiness, nervousness, sleeping problems, dizziness can more than likely be resolved with a decreased change in dose or ensuring that the patient is on a strict schedule with their doses.
Often, sleeping issues can occur when the medication is taken later in the day or closer to bedtime.
Is Adderall Highly Addictive?
Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse because the use of these drugs can lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
Adderall has been misused by many college students who use it for the euphoric effect or to help them study.
Adderall usage must be closely monitored by parents of children using it for treatment. Signs and symptoms of abuse must also be closely monitored by physicians.
Examples of other schedule II drugs include cocaine, Ritalin, oxycodone, fentanyl, Dexedrine, meperidine, hydromorphone, and methadone.
Are There Long-Term Side Effects or Harm Caused by Adderall Use?
Although there have not been well-established studies of long term effects of Adderall, the biggest possible long-term side effect of Adderall is to children.
The growth of a child taking Adderall can be stunted both in height and weight. Due to this potential complication, pediatricians should do regular height and weight checks to make sure children are growing according to their appropriate age.
Adderall Drug Identification
There are many different pills that are classified as Adderall. These drugs are the same, however, they look different and have a different dose.
It is important to be able to identify Adderall in whatever form you use. The ADA has approved of the use of the following supplied Adderall tablets.
Adderall should be stored at 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit or room temperature.
- Adderall 5 mg: A round, flat-faced beveled edge, white to off-white tablet, “5” embossed on one side with partial bisect and “AD” embossed on the other side.
- Adderall 7.5 mg: An oval, convex, blue tablet, “7.5” embossed on one side with a partial bisect and “AD” embossed on the other side with a full and partial bisect.
- Adderall 10 mg: A round, convex, blue tablet, “10” embossed on one side with a full and partial bisect and “AD” embossed on the other side.
- Adderall 12.5 mg: A round, flat-faced beveled edge, orange tablet, “12.5” embossed on one side and “AD” embossed on the other side with a full and partial bisect.
- Adderall 15 mg: An oval, convex, orange tablet, “15” embossed on one side with a partial bisect and “AD” embossed on the other side with a full and partial bisect.
- Adderall 20 mg: A round, convex, orange tablet, “20” embossed on one side with a full and partial bisect and “AD” embossed on the other side
- Adderall 30 mg: A round, flat-faced beveled edge, orange tablet, “30” embossed on one side with a full and partial bisect and “AD” embossed on the other side.
There are only two FDA approved uses for Adderall in the United States.
The recommended dosing for those with ADHD and Narcolepsy are determined and regulated by the FDA and are different from one another based on age.
Dosing Adderall for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Adderall is not intended for the use of ADHD in children under 3 years of age. For children who are between the ages 3 to 5 years, pediatricians should start them at 2.5 mg of Adderall daily.
If this dose does not help achieve a desired response or outcome, the daily dosage can be increased at weekly intervals by 2.5 mg. Children who are 6 years or older can begin with a dose of 5 mg once or twice daily.
If this dosage does not yield optimum results, the daily dosage can be increased by weekly intervals of 5 mg. A dose for ADHD should rarely exceed 40 mg per day to work effectively.
Doses should be given as soon as possible upon waking and additional doses can be given at intervals of four to six hours.
Dosing of Adderall for Narcolepsy
Generally, the dose for narcolepsy is between 5 mg and 60 mg per day in divided doses.
This medication is typically not used for patients under the age of 12 for narcolepsy since it rarely occurs in children. However, if narcolepsy is present in someone under the age of 12, dextroamphetamine sulfate can be used.
The dosage should be taken upon awakening and the others at intervals of four to six hours. If insomnia or other side effects occur, dosages can be reduced.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There are many potential complications for pregnant women who take Adderall.
When tested in rats, prenatal or early postnatal exposure to this drug resulted in long-term neurochemical and behavioral changed. These effects included learning, memory, locomotor activity, and sexual function deficits.
Currently, there are not many well-controlled studies in pregnant women for the use of Adderall.
There has, however, been one report of severe congenital bone deformity, anal atresia, and tracheoesophageal fistula in a baby born to a woman taking Adderall in her first trimester. Therefore, the use of Adderall during pregnancy is generally not recommended unless the benefits clearly outweigh the potential risk to the fetus.
Another thing to consider is that any child born to a mother who is dependent on Adderall has an increased risk of premature delivery and low birth weight for gestational age. Withdrawal may also occur when the baby leaves the mother’s body.
Using Adderall when breastfeeding is not recommended because this drug is excreted through human milk. This means that, if a mother takes Adderall and breastfeeds, the child will absorb an unidentifiable amount which can lead to unintended side effects to the infant.
Is Adderall Right for You?
If you or your child have symptoms such as difficulty staying awake, difficulty paying attention, difficulty focusing in school, difficulty controlling impulses, difficulty managing time, difficulty being organized, keeping a job or setting goals than you may want to consider discussing the possibility of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Further examinations and observations may be needed to diagnose ADHD. If you or your child experience a constant lack of control over when you fall asleep, see a physician immediately to discuss the possibility of narcolepsy.
This can be a very dangerous disorder and needs immediate attention. If you have already been diagnosed with ADHD or narcolepsy, Adderall might be right for you.
When to Consult Your Doctor
If you feel that your disorder is interfering with you or your child’s life, job, school, or other aspects, consult your doctor about the use of this medication.
Your physician will be able to assess if this medication is right for you.
Risks of Adderall
It is very important to be open and honest to your physician about all past medications and past medical history.
Many conditions affect your ability to take Adderall or allowed dosing. Do not take Adderall without telling your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:
- Severe agitation
- Moderate to severe hypertension
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Fructose intolerance
- Angina pectoris
- Glucose-galactose malabsorption
- Heart failure
- Motor tics
- Recent MI
- Sucrase-isomaltase insufficiency
- Tourette’s syndrome or family history
- History of drug use
- History of seizures
- Cardiovascular disease
Adderall Drug Interactions
There is a long list of medications, vitamins and minerals that can have a negative drug interaction with Adderall.
It is best to inform your prescribing physician about any and all medications (including over the counter medications) that you have taken recently or plan to take while using Adderall. The following list is an alphabetical list of the various classifications of drugs that can interact with Adderall.
This list does not include every possible drug interaction.
- Acidifying agents
- Adrenergic blockers
- Alkalinizing agents
- CYP2D6 inhibitors
- MAO inhibitors
- Proton pump inhibitors
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Serotonergic drugs
- Veratrum alkaloids
What Other Drugs and Treatments
The FDA two medication types to aid in the treatment of ADHD. First, stimulants have been approved.
Stimulants such as Adderall or various forms of methylphenidate and amphetamine. The other types of medication approved by the FDA for ADHD are non-stimulants.
Currently, there are three of these on the market. These include Strattera (atomoxetine), Intuniv (guanfacine), and Kapvay (clonidine).
Other treatment options for young teens or children include parent training in behavior therapy, classroom behavior management, organizational skills training and accommodation behavior management.