Long Term Effects of Adderall

Long Term Effects of Adderall

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

Effects of Adderall in the Long Term

Over the last few decades, more and more children and teens have been diagnosed with ADHD. It is actually very common for some adults to be diagnosed later in life if they and thei rmedical professioanls believe a diagnosis can help them live their lives better than without it. And with that diagnosis, a medication usually comes along with it1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489818/. The medication usually prescribed for those with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder? Adderall.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant medication. It is actually a combination of two stimulants: dextroamphetamine and amphetamine2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4956327/. The combination of both of these substances helps increase the amount of activity that goes on in your central nervous system. Your central nervous system is what controls your brain and spinal cord — both of which are responsible for most of your daily bodily functions.

This medication is most commonly prescribed for ADHD, but can be prescribed for other conditions, such as narcolepsy. The medication works by changing the chemistry in your brain. ADHD is assumed to be caused by an incorrectly balanced amount of neurotransmitters in the brain. The condition is usually caused by an off-balance amount of dopamine and norepinephrine. The improper levels of these neurotransmitters are what lead to the symptoms of ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD:

  • acting without thinking
  • inability to focus
  • inability to sit still
  • interrupting concentrations
  • difficult time staying on task

ADHD is not limited to these symptoms and not everyone has every one of these symptoms.

Adderall helps alleviate these symptoms by:

  • increased alertness
  • improved focus
  • higher energy levels
  • decreased restlessness
  • longer attention span

Alleviating these symptoms is what helps those with ADHD focus better and be more successful in school, but some risks come along with the medication — even if it was prescribed to you and you are taking it correctly.  It is extremely addictive, so those prescribed the medication at a young age can become addicted and reliant on Adderall3https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887617706001363. And even with correct, but consistent use, it can have effects on the heart down the road. Part of what helps the user focus on tasks is an increased heart rate. This increased heart rate can impact the health of the heart later in life.

Long Term Effects of Adderall

Why is knowing the long-term effects of Adderall so important? Well, like mentioned before, even those that are correctly prescribed and use the medication as directed can become dependent on the substance. Long-term use can have adverse impacts on a user. It is also important to talk about the long-term effects because it is an extremely common stimulant to use even if you have not been properly prescribed the medication. Those who want to be more successful in school or at work can utilize Adderall to help them focus and accomplish more than they could without.

Adderall provides many people the ability to pull all-nighter after all-nighter with uninterrupted focus. This has given the medication a reputation of successfully helping those with high stress careers achieve more success. While that may technically be true for some, the crash that comes after an Adderall high or after someone stops using the drug can be detrimental and lead to a wide array of other conditions.

While Adderall is extremely helpful and life changing for some, it is important to know how the long term effects of adderall affect you or have an impact on your life in the long run.

Long term effects of Adderall abuse

Addiction and other behavioral or mental conditions.

Adderall is extremely addictive and long-term users can often become very dependent on the drug. The addiction associated with Adderall can eventually lead to other mental conditions such as depression and anxiety. The physical chemistry change Adderall has on the brain is what typically causes these issues. Suicide ideation is not uncommon in those who abuse Adderall or stop after long-term use.

1. Long term effects of Adderall: Heart Damage.

Adderall increases your heart rate, improving your focus. While this is helpful for many , long-term use has a serious impact on heart health –especially if you already have pre-existing conditions related to your heart. Many long-term users may have a heart attack or stroke because of its impact on cardiovascular health. Heart damage that is done from an abuse of Adderall is not reversible like a few other symptoms associated with the abuse of the drug.

2. Long term effects of Adderall: Mood/emotional disorders.

Adderall commonly can cause panic attacks and other serious changes in behavior. Adderall often introduces a manic state during use and can make a condition like bipolar disorder worse than it would be without.

3. Long term effects of Adderall: Lung issues.

Adderall has the ability to damage lungs and regular breathing patterns. This is often connected to the cardiovascular issues caused by Adderall, but Adderall also has the ability to damage lungs and potentially cause pulmonary disease as well.

4. Long term effects of Adderall: Psychosis and paranoia

Long term use of Adderall has been reported to cause hallucinations, paranoia, symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia, and psychosis. This can occasionally be solved by time spent in a clinic or hospital detoxing from the medication, but will often not resolve on its own.

Long term effects of Adderall on the Brain and Body

  • Sleep difficulties
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of motivation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Aggression
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Heart disease
  • Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Constipation


Adderall, like many medications prescribed for mood or behavioral disorders, has its side effects. The medication can be truly life-changing for those who are diagnosed and properly prescribed, but the potential for even those who are prescribed the medication to become dependent on it is very high. So, those using the medication out of a regulated prescription often face the serious long-term effects that come along with its use4https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6165228/. The most alarming of those is often the heart disease and damage associated with Adderall.

Even those without pre-existing heart conditions can end up have some Adderall-related heart damage after its use. And if someone has not been prescribed the medication by a provider, they often do not realize the risks that come along with it. Some behavioral and mood disorders may be able to absolve after use has been halted, but the damage that is done to the heart is not reversible. Adderall is best utilized under the watchful eye of an experienced physician and is something not to be taken lightly.

References & Citations: Long Term Effects of Adderall

  1. Advokat CD, Guidry MS, Martino BA. Licit and illicit use of medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in undergraduate college students. J. Am. Coll. Health. 2008;56:601–607.[]
  2. Barkley RA, Cunningham CE. Do stimulant drugs improve the academic performance of hyperkinetic children? A review of outcome studies. Clin. Pediatr. (Phila.) 1978;17:85–92. []
  3. Biederman J, Seidman LJ, Petty CR, Fried R, Doyle AE, Cohen DR, et al. Effects of stimulant medication on neuropsychological functioning in young adults with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J. Clin. Psychiatry. 2008b;69:1150–1156. []
  4. Breitenstein C, Floel A, Korsukewitz C, Waike S, Bushuven S, Knecht S. A shift paradigm: from noradrenergic to dopaminergic modulation of learning? J. Neurol. Sci. 2006;248:42–47. []
  5. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Mental health in the United States. Prevalence of diagnosis and medication treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder – United States, 2003. MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 2005a;54:842–847.[]
  6. Cooper NJ, Keage H, Hermens D, Williams LM, Debrota D, Clark CR. The dose-dependent effect of methylphenidate on performance, cognition, and psychophysiology. J. Integrative Neurosci. 2005;4:123–144. []
  7. Fitzpatrick P, Klorman R, Brumaghim JT, Keefover RW. Effects of methylphenidate on stimulus evaluation and response processes: evidence from performance and event-related potentials. Psychophysiology. 1988;25:292–304. []
  8. Jensen PS, Arnold LE, Swanson JM, Vitiello B, Abikoff HB, Greenhill LL, et al. 3-year follow-up of the NIMH MTA study. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry. 2007;46:989–1002. []
  9. Looby A, Earleywine M. Expectation to receive methylphenidate enhances subjective arousal but not cognitive performance. Exp. Clin. Psychopharmacol. 2011;19:433–444.[]
  10. Mintzer MZ, Griffiths RR. A triazolam/amphetamine dose-effect interaction study: dissociation of effects on memory versus arousal. Psychopharmacology. 2007;192:425–440. []
  11. Rogers RD, Blackshaw AJ, Middleton HC, Matthews K, Hawtin K, Crowley C, et al. Tryptophan depletion impairs stimulus-reward learning while methylphenidate disrupts attentional control in healthy young adults: implications for the monoaminergic basis of impulsive behavior. Psychopharmacology. 1999;146:482–491. []
  12. Wilens TE, Biederman J, Spencer TJ. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder across the lifespan. Annu. Rev. Med. 2002;53:113–131. [PubMed] []
  13. Volkow ND, Fowler JS, Wang GJ, Hitzemann R, Logan J, Schlyer DJ, et al. Decreased dopamine D2 receptor availability is associated with reduced frontal metabolism in cocaine abusers. Synapse. 1993;14:169–177. []
  14. Sanga M, Younis IR, Tirumalai PS, Bland TM, Banaszewska M, Konat GW, et al. long term effects of adderall, trans-phenylpropene, to transphenylpropylene oxide by CYP enzymes and stereoselective glutathione adduct formation. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology. 2006;211(2):148–156. [PubMed] []
  15. Achat-Mendes C, Anderson KL, Itzhak Y. Impairment in consolidation of learned place preference following dopaminergic neurotoxicity in mice is ameliorated by N-acetylcysteine but not D1 and D2 dopamine receptor agonists. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2007;32(3):531–541. [PubMed] []
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