Adderall is a brand-name amphetamine drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Take it as directed, and the medication is safe. But abuse the drug, and you could be tempted to use too much. An overdose can quickly follow.
Can You Overdose on Adderall?
You can overdose on Adderall if you take too much. Your symptoms can be cardiovascular (like a heart attack) or psychiatric (like psychosis). If you overdose, you’ll need care in a hospital to get better.
Adderall Overdose Symptoms
Taking too much Adderall can cause life-threatening symptoms. Signs of an Adderall overdose include the following:
|Fast heart rate||Paranoia||Hostility|
|Increased blood pressure||Confusion||Combativeness|
|High body temperature||Hallucinations||Suicidal thoughts|
Adderall Overdose Statistics
An estimated 20% of college students misuse Adderall. Most get the medication from friends or family members. As many as half of young people with a valid prescription are approached by peers hoping to buy their drugs.
From 2019 to 2020, the rate of drug overdoses involving stimulants like Adderall rose by 50%. Experts say this is a crisis that demands immediate attention.
Researchers say people who quit abusing Adderall often do so due to a bad experience, such as an overdose.
|Adults with ADHD and narcolepsy typically take between 5 mg and 60 mg daily. People who abuse the drug may take much more.|
|More than 97% of youth who misuse stimulants by age 18 have used at least one other substance in the past year.|
|Overdose deaths caused by drugs like Adderall increased 317% between 2013 and 2019.|
Factors That May Contribute to an Adderall Overdose
Some risk factors that increase the risk of Adderall overdose may include the following:[2,4]
- Taking higher or more frequent doses than prescribed
- Taking Adderall in a way other than prescribed, such as injecting or snorting it
- Taking Adderall that isn’t prescribed to you
- Mixing Adderall with other substances
- Pre-existing cardiovascular or seizure conditions
- Family history of cardiovascular problems
Proper Adderall Dosage
Adderall dosing typically begins at 5 mg once or twice a day. If a patient doesn’t respond as well as their doctor would like, this dose can be increased, generally to a maximum of 40 mg a day.
The FDA does note that in rare cases, a doctor may consider it necessary to increase a patient’s dose beyond 40 mg a day, but this is only done with careful consideration.
What Is Considered a Fatal Dose of Adderall?
Reporters often say that doses larger than 20 mg per kilogram of your body weight are lethal. But approach this statistic with care. Researchers point out that regular users can develop amphetamine tolerance. They can easily take doses that would kill other people.
The fatal dose for any person is individualized and almost impossible to estimate.
Dangerous Adderall Interactions
Adderall isn’t recommended for those taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), a type of antidepressant.
You should also alert your doctor if you’re taking any of these:
- Opioids like fentanyl or tramadol
- Migraine medications
- Seizure medications
- Antidepressants like Zoloft
How to Help Someone Overdosing on Adderall
If you suspect someone is overdosing on Adderall, you can take action. Your care and quick thinking could save someone’s life.
Take these steps:
- Call 911. Give the operator to your current location and tell them you think someone is overdosing. Describe the person’s symptoms and any important information about their medical history and the medications they’re taking.
- Wait for help. While waiting for emergency responders, stay on the phone and monitor the person’s symptoms.
- Protect the person’s breathing. Adjust their posture so their head is to one side. This helps to ensure that if they vomit, they will not choke on it.
Call 911 immediately if you suspect an overdose.
How to Medically Treat an Adderall Overdose
Doctors typically treat an Adderall overdose by addressing life-threatening symptoms that appear while Adderall stays in your system.
For example, doctors can help control seizures using the following medications:
Medical professionals can control cardiac issues through beta-blockers like propranolol. Patients experiencing hyperthermia can be administered fluids to counteract it. Fluids can also help organs to eliminate any remaining Adderall.
Long-Term Side Effects of Adderall Overdose & Abuse
Overdosing on Adderall, even if you receive proper emergency treatment and care, can lead to long-term health problems, such as these:
- Rhabdomyolysis, a condition that can cause kidney and heart damage
- Kidney and liver damage
- Cognitive deficits
- Brain damage
Strokes and hemorrhaging could also lead to ongoing health problems and even require surgery if severe enough.
Continued Adderall abuse can lead to an increase in addiction risk. The longer the drug stays in your body, the more harm it can cause.
Finding Addiction Treatment
Adderall addiction is characterized by compulsive use regardless of negative consequences, such as an overdose.
If you’ve experienced negative health effects or amphetamine toxicity before and continued to misuse this stimulant, you may be struggling with an addiction. Likewise, if you’ve experienced adverse consequences in other parts of your life, such as relationships, work, school, and more, and you continue to abuse it, addiction is likely.
However, you can seek comprehensive addiction treatment services. Once the medical team has treated your overdose and helped you achieve medical stability, a therapist, social worker, or case manager may counsel you on your follow-up treatment options. Find an addiction treatment program that’s right for you.
- Winkelman TNA, Admon LK, Jennings L, Shippee ND, Richardson CR, Bart G. Evaluation of amphetamine-related hospitalizations and associated clinical outcomes and costs in the United States. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(6):e183758.
- Vasan S, Olango G. Amphetamine toxicity. StatPearls. Published November 8, 2022. Accessed July 4, 2023.
- Kennedy S. Raising Awareness About Prescription and Stimulant Abuse in College Students Through On-Campus Community Involvement Projects. J Undergrad Neurosci Educ. 2018;17(1):A50-A53. Published 2018 Dec 15.
- Prescription stimulant misuse and prevention among youth and young adults. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Published 2021. Accessed July 4, 2023.
- Kutscher E, Sidelnik S. Increasing stimulant prescriptions to prevent overdose deaths in an Adderall shortage. Health Affairs. Published December 13, 2022. Accessed July 4, 2023.
- Coleman, J., Kido, J., Xing, J. et al. Perspectives on deterrents from students who have discontinued prescription stimulant misuse and diversion behaviors. J of Prevention 44, 193–206 (2023).
- Fitzgerald K, Bronstein A. Adderall (amphetamine dextroamphetamine) toxicity. Topics in Companion Animal Medicine. 2013;28(1):2-7.
- Stimulant guide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published February 24, 2023. Accessed July 4, 2023.
- timulant and related medications: U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved indications and dosages for use in adults. Centers for Medicate and Medicaid Services. Published October 2015. Accessed July 4, 2023.
- Attafi I, Tumayhi M, Banji D, Albeishy M, Khardali I, Korashy H. Analysis of fatalities involving amphetamine in Jazan, Saudi Arabia. Forensic Science International: Reports. 2021;4.
- Adderall prescribing guide. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published March 2007. Accessed July 4, 2023.