Many people in America suffer from a common condition known as ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Symptoms of this disorder include finding it difficult to pay attention, disorganization, moving around constantly, and impulsivity. ADHD is relatively common in the United States, and “the American Psychiatric Association states in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, 2013) that 5% of children have ADHD. However, other studies in the US have estimated higher rates in community samples.” (Data and Statistics About ADHD, Center for Disease Control).
Adderall, which is a brand name, central nervous system stimulant combining Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, Amphetamine Aspartate, Dextroamphetamine Sulfate, and Amphetamine Sulfate, is commonly prescribed for treating ADHD. This medication works for people with ADHD because it stimulates the release of dopamine and norepinephrine into the synapses of the brain, and “dopamine and norepinephrine seem to play a key role in the areas of the brain responsible for regulating attention and executive function.” (How Stimulants Work to Reduce ADHD Symptoms, Very Well Mind). However, though Adderall may be useful in the effective treatment of people with ADHD, it is also classified as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse, particularly for people that do not have ADHD.
Adderall can have a euphoric effect on the brain, which makes sense, as it is involved with activating the pleasure centers to increase executive function. As with many stimulants, users can feel happy, energetic, focused, determined and productive, which make using the drug very tempting for people that have an addictive personality. So the answer to the question of if Adderall is addictive depends on whether the person taking the medication is prone to addiction. As with anything that has the potential to be abused, Adderall in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is that people who have addictive personalities tend to gravitate towards anything that will activate the pleasure centers of the brain, such as drugs, alcohol, sex, food, and video games.
So yes. Adderall can be addicting. As mentioned earlier, the Drug Enforcement Agency has recognized the levels of abuse in America and has determined that Adderall is a Schedule II controlled stimulant. Possession or use of Adderall without a prescription from a licensed health care provider is against the law because of it addictive nature.
It is also very important to note that Adderall is very similar to the terrifying street drug methamphetamine. According to Dr. Carl Hart, who is a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, “the only major difference between crystal meth and Adderall is public perception.” (Top Neuroscientist Explains How Big Pharma’s Adderall Is Essentially Crystal Meth, Medium). Adderall is only one methyl group away from methamphetamine, and so the effects are very similar, though meth does cross the brain barrier more effectively which leads to it being more potent.
All this is to say that absolutely Adderall can be addicting. If you or someone you know has a problem with Adderall, it is important to realize that you are not alone. Many people have had a problem and have found help, and the most important thing you can do is reach out and ask for help.