Adderall is generally well-tolerated and effective in treating the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy. At therapeutic doses, Adderall causes emotional and cognitive effects such as euphoria, change in desire for sex, increased wakefulness, and improved cognitive control. At these doses, it induces physical effects such as a faster reaction time, fatigue resistance, and increased muscle strength. In contrast, much larger doses of Adderall can impair cognitive control, cause rapid muscle breakdown, or induce a psychosis (e.g., delusions and paranoia). The side effects of Adderall vary widely among individuals, but most commonly include insomnia, dry mouth, and loss of appetite. The risk of developing an addiction is insignificant when Adderall is used as prescribed at fairly low daily doses, such as those used for treating ADHD; however, the routine use of Adderall in larger daily doses poses a significant risk of addiction due to the pronounced reinforcing effects that are present at higher doses. Recreational doses of Adderall are generally much larger than prescribed therapeutic doses, and carry a far greater risk of serious adverse effects.
The two amphetamine enantiomers that compose Adderall (i.e., levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine) alleviate the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, which results in part from their interactions with human trace amine-associated receptor 1 (hTAAR1) and vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2) in neurons. Dextroamphetamine is a more potent CNS stimulant than levoamphetamine, but levoamphetamine has slightly stronger cardiovascular and peripheral effects and a longer elimination half-life (i.e., it remains in the body longer) than dextroamphetamine. The levoamphetamine component of Adderall has been reported to improve the treatment response in some individuals relative to dextroamphetamine alone. Adderall’s active ingredient, amphetamine, shares many chemical and pharmacological properties with the human trace amines, particularly phenethylamine and N-methylphenethylamine, the latter of which is a positional isomer of amphetamine.
Doses of Adderall are individualized, so your dose will depend on why you’re taking Adderall, and on your response to the drug.
Doctors usually start with a low dose and increase the amount gradually.
The best dose will be the lowest possible dose that works.
A child older than 5 who is taking Adderall for ADHD would typically start with a dose of 5 milligrams (mg) and increase it gradually to 30 mg.
A typical dose for an adult with narcolepsy may start at 5 mg and increase to 60 mg.
You can take Adderall and Adderall XR with or without food.
People usually take Adderall tablets every four to six hours during the day.
People take Adderall XR capsules once a day, in the morning. Adderall taken in the evening can interfere with sleep.
Guidelines call for swallowing capsules whole. Or, you can open the capsule and sprinkle the contents into a teaspoon of applesauce. It’s important to take any opened medicine right away.
Symptoms of an Adderall overdose may include:
- Extreme restlessness
- Panic attack
- Rapid breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Racing heart
- Loss of consciousness
If you think you have taken an overdose or if someone else may have overdosed on Adderall, call a poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
If you or someone else has symptoms of an overdose, call 9-1-1.
Missed Dose of Adderall
Take Adderall exactly as directed by the doctor.
Do not stop taking Adderall suddenly. This can cause severe depression, extreme tiredness, and other Adderall withdrawal symptoms.
If you miss a dose of Adderall, take the missed dose as soon as you remember.
But, if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose.
Do not double the dose to make up for a missed dose.