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Getting High On Adderall – Silent, Underground Epidemic


People getting an Adderall high shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Ever since the medication’s debut in 1996, lots of people, especially college students, have been abusing Adderall. It is an amphetamine, central nervous stimulant, in the phenethylamine class. It has been in and out of the popular consciousness for over 20 years.

  • On the streets and college campuses across the county, the drug often goes by the nickname of “Addy”.


Adderall, the brand name for dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, is usually prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

  • The medication boosts levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which increases alertness and concentration.


Recreational users, who are generally taking more than the recommended dose, enjoy getting “high” on Adderall because of the drug’s physical and mental effects. These include some of the following:

  • Cognitive focus
  • Euphoria
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Enhanced athletic performance

“Normal” vs. Overdoses

According to the Mayo Clinic, the typical medicinal dose of Adderall is 20 milligrams for adults and 10 milligrams children. It is suggested it be taken once a day, usually in the morning. The prescribing physician is likely to adjust the dosage. This adjustment can be as high as 60mg in adults and 30mg in children. It will depend on their patient’s response to the medication.

  • There’s no reliable guideline for how much Adderall a recreational user can take safely.
  • First time non-medical users getting “high” on Adderall have little to no tolerance built up to the drug and can feel its effects at the normally prescribed 20mg dose.
  • For long-term recreational users, much higher doses are needed to experience the stimulant effects of the drug.

Instant vs. Extended Release

Adderall comes in two variations: instant release pills, which can have effects that last four to six hours and extended release that can have effects lasting up to 12 hours, writes PSYCOM contributor Kathleen Smith, Ph.D. These numbers, however, are for medicinal purposes.

  • So, when using Adderall to get “high,” the length of the effects will vary based on a person’s tolerance, and the amount and way they ingested the drug.

How It’s Abused

The most common way people use Adderall, either medicinally or recreationally, is to ingest it in tablet form. It’s also not uncommon for people using it for non-medical reasons to abuse Adderall in the following ways:

  • Crush the tablets and snort them
  • “Cook” them down for intravenous use
  • Use Adderall in combination with other substances, including alcohol

Facts and Stats

Adderall abuse and addiction has spiked, especially among college students. Before the opioid epidemic, some people considered the drug to be the most abused prescription medication in the country. Huffpost contributors Dr. Ronald Ricker and Dr. Venus Nicolino report that it’s mostly misused by college students and write, “Estimates are that somewhere between 20-30 percent of college students regularly abuse Adderall.”

Data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) back this up. One NIH study, published, in the Journal of American College Health, found that 34 percent of 1,811 undergraduates surveyed admitted to the illegal use of ADHD stimulants, such as Adderall.

Author Lian-Yu Chen, MD, who received her PhD in 2014 from the Bloomberg School writes;  “The number of prescriptions for Adderall has fallen and yet we are seeing more medical problems from its use. This suggests that the main driver of misuse and emergency room visits related to the drug is the result of diversion, people taking medication that is legitimately prescribed to someone else. Physicians need to be much more aware of what is happening and take steps to prevent it from continuing.”

Charlotte Lieberman wrote in Cosmopolitan; “Almost everyone in my circle at Harvard took a friend’s “Addy” on occasion.Some were crunch-time pill poppers who relied on Adderall to survive finals week; others were disinterested semi-slackers who used it to motivate themselves for classes they didn’t care about. And then there were people like me: academically obsessed library dwellers who got a feverish aura about them whenever the drug was mentioned.”

Potential Consequences

Getting “high” on Adderall doesn’t come without consequences. There are serious side effects. These can include some of the following:

  • Abnormal heart rate, high or low blood pressure, rapid breathing
  • Agitation, confusion, mood swings
  • Tremors, sweats, elevated body temperature, dry mouth
  • Pain during urination, erectile dysfunction
  • Muscle pain
  • Depression, anxiety, paranoia
  • Addiction

Despite it’s reputation as a “smart” drug that the young working and college aged set uses to stay focused or party into the wee hours of the night, getting “high” on Adderall can be dangerous. Recreational use over a long period will certainly take its toll on the body’s overall health and well-being, as listed above.

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