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What is Adderall and How it Affects The Body


What is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medication that contains a combination of amphetamine salts, specifically dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It belongs to a class of drugs known as central nervous system stimulants. Adderall is primarily prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

The medication is said to work by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, namely dopamine and norepinephrine, which are involved in regulating attention, impulse control, and hyperactivity. By affecting these neurotransmitters, Adderall is used with the aim to improve focus, decrease impulsivity, and reduce hyperactivity in individuals ‘diagnosed’ with ADHD.

Adderall comes in both immediate-release and extended-release formulations. The immediate-release form typically lasts for about 4 to 6 hours, while the extended-release version provide a longer duration of action, ranging from 8 to 12 hours.

Forms of Adderall

Adderall is available in different forms to accommodate different dosing needs and duration of action. The two main forms of Adderall are:

  • Immediate-Release (IR) Adderall: This formulation releases the medication into the bloodstream quickly, providing immediate effects. Immediate-release Adderall typically lasts for about 4 to 6 hours. It comes in various dosage strengths, such as 5 mg, 7.5 mg, 10 mg, 12.5 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, and 30 mg.
  • Extended-Release (XR) Adderall: Extended-release Adderall is designed to release the medication gradually over an extended period, providing a longer duration of action. It usually lasts for about 8 to 12 hours. Extended-release Adderall capsules can be taken once daily and XR Adderall is available in similar dosage strengths as the immediate-release version, including 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg, and 30 mg.

Both immediate-release and extended-release Adderall formulations contain a combination of amphetamine salts, including dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. The specific ratios of these salts may vary among different brands and generic versions of Adderall.

What is the make up of Adderall?

Adderall is a medication that contains a combination of amphetamine salts. The specific makeup of Adderall varies depending on the formulation and dosage strength, but it typically consists of a mixture of dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate, and amphetamine sulfate.

Here is a breakdown of the four components found in Adderall:

  • Dextroamphetamine Saccharate: It is one of the amphetamine salts included in Adderall. Dextroamphetamine is a central nervous system stimulant that affects the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
  • Amphetamine Aspartate: This is another component of the amphetamine salts present in Adderall. Amphetamine, like dextroamphetamine, is a stimulant that increase the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.
  • Dextroamphetamine Sulfate: It is the sulfate salt form of dextroamphetamine, which is a more potent form of amphetamine. Dextroamphetamine sulfate acts as a stimulant, promoting wakefulness and increasing focus and attention.
  • Amphetamine Sulfate: Similarly, this is the sulfate salt form of amphetamine, which is also a stimulant. Amphetamine sulfate has effects similar to dextroamphetamine sulfate, said to enhance cognitive function and reduce symptoms of ‘ADHD’.

The combination of these amphetamine salts in Adderall allows for a longer-lasting effect compared to single-component formulations. It provides both immediate-release and extended-release effects, depending on the specific formulation prescribed.

It’s important to note that the precise composition and ratios of these amphetamine salts may vary among different brands and generic versions of Adderall. Additionally, there may be other inactive ingredients used in the formulation, such as fillers, binders, and colourants.


The main health concerns Adderall is used for

Adderall is primarily used to address two main health concerns:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Adderall is a commonly prescribed medication for ADHD in both children and adults. ADHD is characterised by symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Adderall is prescribed to supposedly improve focus, reduce hyperactivity, and enhance impulse control in individuals with ADHD.
  • Narcolepsy: Adderall is also prescribed to manage the symptoms of narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder. Narcolepsy is characterised by excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden sleep attacks, and disruptions in sleep-wake cycles. Adderall in these cases are used to promote wakefulness and reduce excessive daytime sleepiness in individuals with narcolepsy.

The rise in Adderall usage

The use of Adderall and other prescription stimulants has indeed been a topic of concern and discussion in recent years.

In the United States, there has been an increase in the use of prescription stimulants like Adderall for both medical and non-medical purposes. The primary medical use of Adderall is for ADHD, in children and adults. The diagnosis of ADHD has been on the rise, leading to an increased number of prescriptions for medications like Adderall.

However, there has also been an increase in non-medical use, particularly among college students and young adults. Some individuals are using Adderall as a study aid or cognitive enhancer, believing it can improve focus, concentration, and academic performance – which can have serious health consequences.

The reasons behind the rise in Adderall usage are multifactorial and can include factors such as increased diagnosis of ADHD, academic pressures, competitive environments, and the perception that stimulant use can enhance cognitive abilities. Cultural and societal factors, as well as easy access to prescription drugs, may also contribute to this trend. Also, some individuals become addicted even after taking the drug according to doctor prescribed dosages.

What are the negative effects of Adderall?

Some of the potential negative effects of Adderall include:

  • Common side effects: These side effects are relatively common and may include:
    • Decreased appetite: Adderall can suppress appetite, leading to weight loss or difficulty in maintaining a healthy weight.
    • Insomnia: Stimulant medications like Adderall can disrupt sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
    • Dry mouth: Adderall can cause a dry mouth or decreased saliva production.
    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure: Adderall stimulates the central nervous system, which can lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.
    • Nervousness and restlessness: Some individuals may experience heightened anxiety, jitteriness, or a feeling of restlessness.
    • Gastrointestinal issues: Adderall may cause digestive problems such as stomach ache, constipation, or diarrhoea.
    • Cardiovascular effects: Adderall can have more serious effects on the cardiovascular system, especially in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions. It may lead to increased heart rate, high blood pressure, or even more severe complications like heart palpitations, chest pain, or cardiac arrhythmias. Regular monitoring by a healthcare professional is important, especially for individuals with a history of heart problems.
  • Psychological effects: Adderall can affect mood and behavior in some individuals. It may cause irritability, agitation, anxiety, or even feelings of paranoia. In some cases, it can also lead to hallucinations or psychosis, and this is more commonly associated with high doses.
  • Dependency and abuse potential: Adderall is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance due to its potential for abuse and dependence. As such, it can increase the risk of addiction, tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms.

It’s important to remember that the severity and likelihood of experiencing negative effects can vary from person to person.

Adderall addiction

Adderall, like other amphetamines, has the potential for addiction and dependence. Addiction refers to a complex condition characterised by compulsive drug seeking, drug use despite harmful consequences, and an inability to control or stop drug use.

Adderall addiction can develop when individuals use the drug for non-medical purposes, such as using it to enhance academic or cognitive performance, or when it is taken in higher doses or more frequently than prescribed. Some individuals may also develop a dependence on Adderall even when taking it as prescribed, requiring larger doses to achieve the same effects over time.

Adderall use can lead to several negative consequences, including:

  • Physical dependence: Continued use of Adderall can lead to physical dependence, where the body becomes accustomed to the drug’s presence. Abruptly stopping or reducing the dosage can result in withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, depression, irritability, and increased appetite.
  • Psychological dependence: Adderall can also create psychological dependence, where individuals may feel the need to use the medication to cope with daily tasks or feel unable to function without it. They may experience cravings and intense urges to use the drug.
  • Tolerance: Prolonged use of Adderall can lead to tolerance, where higher doses are required to achieve the desired effects. This can increase the risk of escalating use, leading to potential health risks and adverse effects.
  • Health risks: High doses or using it via non-prescribed routes (e.g., snorting or injecting), can significantly increase the risk of adverse health effects. These may include cardiovascular problems, psychiatric disturbances, seizures, and other serious complications.

How long does Adderall stays in the body?

The duration that Adderall remains detectable in the body can vary depending on several factors, including the individual’s metabolism, dosage, frequency of use, and the specific drug test being employed. Here are some general guidelines for the approximate detection times of Adderall:

  • Blood: Adderall can typically be detected in the bloodstream for about 24 to 48 hours after the last use.
  • Urine: Adderall can usually be detected in urine for around 1 to 3 days after the last use. However, in heavy or chronic users, it may be detectable for up to a week.
  • Saliva: Adderall can be detected in saliva for approximately 24 to 48 hours after the last use.
  • Hair: Adderall can be detected in hair follicles for a longer period compared to other testing methods. It can be detected for up to 90 days after the last use, as hair grows over time.

It’s important to note that these are general estimates, and individual variations may occur. Factors such as metabolism, hydration levels, and the sensitivity of the drug test can affect detection times.

Natural and herbal alternatives to Adderall

Some individuals may seek natural supplements or lifestyle changes to support focus, concentration, and overall cognitive function. Here are some natural options that people sometimes consider:

  • Rhodiola rosea: Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb that is believed to enhance mental performance, reduce fatigue, and improve mood. Some studies have suggested that it may have cognitive benefits and may help with attention and concentration.
  • Bacopa monnieri: Bacopa monnieri is an herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to support memory and cognitive function. It may improve learning, attention, and cognitive performance.
  • Lion’s mane mushroom: Lion’s mane mushroom is a type of medicinal mushroom that has gained attention for its potential cognitive benefits. It may also support nerve growth and enhance cognitive function.
  • Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb used in Ayurvedic medicine. It may help reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function. Some studies suggest it may have neuroprotective properties.
  • Gotu kola: Gotu kola is an herb traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to improve cognitive function and memory. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Rosemary: Rosemary is an herb known for its culinary uses, but it also has potential cognitive benefits. The aroma of rosemary has been associated with improved cognitive performance and memory.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Found in flaxseed oil, among other sources, omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with brain health and cognitive function. They may help support overall brain health and potentially improve symptoms of ‘ADHD’.
  • Lifestyle changes: Incorporating healthy habits into your routine can also support cognitive function. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, a healthy diet, stress management techniques, and practicing mindfulness or meditation may all contribute to overall brain health and focus.

Natural supplements and lifestyle changes may have different effects on different individuals, and their efficacy may vary. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking other medications, an experienced herbalist or naturopath can provide personalized guidance and help you determine the most appropriate approach for your specific needs.

Adderall and cardiovascular risk

Adderall acts as a central nervous system stimulant, increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. It also stimulates the cardiovascular system, which can lead to various cardiovascular effects. These effects include increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels).

Particularly in individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions or those who have an increased cardiovascular risk, the use of Adderall may have serious consequences:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure): Adderall can cause a further increase in blood pressure, which can be problematic for individuals with hypertension.
  • Heart disease: People with a history of heart disease, including coronary artery disease, heart rhythm disorders, or structural heart abnormalities, may be at an increased risk of cardiovascular complications when taking Adderall.
  • Cardiac arrhythmias: Adderall can potentially exacerbate existing cardiac arrhythmias or increase the risk of developing new arrhythmias, particularly in individuals with a predisposition to these conditions.
  • Structural heart defects: Individuals with congenital heart defects or other structural abnormalities may have an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular effects while taking Adderall.
  • Family history of cardiovascular disease: Having a family history of cardiovascular disease, particularly at a young age, may indicate an increased susceptibility to cardiovascular risks associated with Adderall.


Drugs are chemical and will create chemical reactions in the body – Adderall is no different. There is some debate today as to whether ‘ADHD’ is even a legitimate diagnosis, or one created to ‘tame’, especially male children, who in many instances are naturally more physically active, and verbally expressive than some of their peers.

How can we be so comfortable about drugging children? Some children, and even adults lack discipline and structure in there lives; and when these things are not present certain behaviors are exhibited, that many may consider disruptive. Before you drug a child or adult, find out what is happening with them, and in their lives, to get to the root of the problem. A child with a lot of energy may just need more physical play, an adult may need to re-channel their focus and energy; or they may need to be counseled.

Natural methods of dealing with real or imagine problems, along with a change in lifestyle, diet and discipline should be the first options explored before allowing yourself or your child to be labelled and drugged.

A person who starts on Adderall today could be on crack tomorrow. When you engage in consuming potentially addictive substances the long-term consequences may be devastating. Not to mention the physical consequences of consuming chemicals over time.


– Adderall:
– Tangu Sichilima MbChB MRCP(CH), Michael J Rieder MD PhD FRCPC FAAP FRCP(Glasgow). Adderall and cardiovascular risk: A therapeutic dilemma
– Amber D. Rolland, Patricia J. Smith. Aided by Adderall: Illicit Use of ADHD Medications by College Students
– Lauren Geoffrion, M.D. Adderall Effects, Risks, and Dangers: Short and Long Term
– Adderall Addiction And Abuse –
– Steven M. Berman etal. Potential Adverse Effects of Amphetamine Treatment on Brain and Behavior: A Review –

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