Adderall and Schizophrenia: How Adderall Affects Schizophrenia
While many people know about the addictive nature of Adderall when not taken as prescribed or used recreationally, few people know about the Adderall-schizophrenia connection. Researchers have found that Adderall can cause hallucinations and delusions in some people. In the most severe cases, a person may experience symptoms of psychosis that mimic schizophrenia so closely that it is nearly indistinguishable.
Studies published since this time have found that stimulant-induced psychosis may only be distinguished from schizophrenia when a person is hospitalized. Schizophrenia-like symptoms will generally subside within a few days if they are caused by amphetamine use. If schizophrenia is present, the symptoms will not resolve fully or without medical interventions.
For a person with a pre-existing mental health condition, the side effects of Adderall abuse are likely to be more severe. This fact is especially true for people with disorders that involve psychotic breaks, such as schizophrenia. A person with one of these disorders considering taking Adderall may wonder how it would affect them. Some common questions include:
- “Can Adderall help with schizophrenia?”
- “Can Adderall make schizophrenia worse?”
A person with pre-existing schizophrenia may find that the impact of Adderall on schizophrenia symptoms is severe. Taking Adderall or other stimulants is likely to trigger the onset of a psychotic break.
Psychosis is perhaps the most startling side effect of Adderall abuse. Fortunately, this side effect is relatively rare. Studies on schizophrenia-like symptoms and amphetamines have estimated that symptoms of psychosis only occur in approximately 0.1 percent of people who abuse Adderall. The following symptoms of psychosis characterize both schizophrenia and Adderall-induced psychosis:
- Paranoia (extreme and irrational feelings of suspiciousness)
- Delusions (false beliefs despite proof indicating otherwise; these are usually irrational beliefs)
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real)
To answer this question, researchers interviewed individuals treated for amphetamine-induced psychosis six months after the initial hospitalization. Of the patients who remained abstinent during this period, most reported continued psychotic symptoms. However, none met the criteria for schizophrenia.
While Adderall induced schizophrenia episodes are possible, it appears that Adderall does not cause schizophrenia in people who are not already predisposed to developing it. However, for a person who may be predisposed to developing schizophrenia, Adderall abuse may be a catalyst for earlier onset or more debilitating symptoms.
- Adderall and schizophrenia are more closely related than many people realize
- For individuals with a family history of schizophrenia, using Adderall, whether as prescribed or recreationally, should be considered carefully
- Possible Adderall side effects, including psychosis, should be discussed with a doctor openly
If you or a loved one struggle with Adderall addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition, The Recovery Village can help. Our programs treat physical and mental symptoms of addiction through combining medical support with counseling. To learn about our programs, or to get started with treatment, call The Recovery Village today.
Bramness, J. G., et al. “Amphetamine-induced psychosis–a separate diagnostic entity or primary psychosis triggered in the vulnerable?” BMC Psychiatry, December 2012. Accessed December 2018.
Lakhan, S. E., et al. “Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects.” Brain and Behavior, September 2012. Accessed December 2018.
Haglage, Abby. “Can Adderall Abuse Trigger Temporary Schizophrenia?” The Daily Beast, March 2016. Accessed December 2018.
Mozes, Alan. “ADHD Meds May Raise Risk for Psychotic Side Effects in Some Kids: Study – WebMD.” WebMD, December 2015. Accessed December 2018.
Rognli, E.B., et al. “Understanding the Relationship Between Amphetamines and Psychosis” Springer Nature, September 2015. Accessed December 2018.
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