Adderall is composed of two drugs, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and works by stimulating the central nervous system. Adderall abuse is common, with individuals using it to enhance their focus on work and school tasks. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.7 million people reported prescription stimulant abuse, including Adderall abuse, within the previous month.
Individuals using prescription or illicit Adderall may wonder if they can overdose on Adderall.
When used as prescribed, Adderall is generally very safe. However, abusing it by taking more than prescribed, or using it along with other drugs, can increase the risk of an overdose occurring. The quantity required to overdose varies from person to person and depends on a person’s age, medical conditions and drug use history.
An Adderall overdose can occur if toxic levels of the drug are ingested. The drug can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, with severe side effects including rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure and heart attack. An overdose increases the risk of severe heart-related side effects.
Signs of an Adderall Overdose
Adderall works by enhancing the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin. Excessive stimulant use results in over-activation of the nervous system, resulting in both physical and psychological Adderall overdose symptoms. If an overdose is suspected, prompt medical treatment is critical to avoiding serious health complications. Without treatment, an overdose can be deadly.
Signs of an Adderall overdose include:
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Overactive reflexes
- Rapid breathing
- Panic attacks
- Muscle pain or weakness
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack
- High or low blood pressure
What to Do If You Suspect an Adderall Overdose
If an Adderall overdose is suspected, call 911 immediately. If possible, provide first responders with any available information regarding the overdose, including the patient’s age, medical conditions, prescription or illicit drug use and how much Adderall they may have ingested. Medical treatment for an Adderall overdose includes close medical monitoring, medications and supportive care to address symptoms such as heart attacks or seizures.
SAMHSA. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” August 2019. Accessed October 17, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Prescription Stimulants.” June 2018. Accessed October 17, 2019.