If you are caught illegally possessing Adderall, you could face a series of legal consequences including arrest, jail time, a life-long criminal record and financial penalties.
Article at a Glance:
- Possession of Adderall without a prescription, after a prescription expired or attempting to sell your current prescription can result in severe legal penalties
- The DEA classifies Adderall as a schedule II substance, meaning they have a high potential to be misused
- State laws vary, but first-time offenders can expect hefty fines and potentially decades-long prison sentences
- Penalties for drug-related crimes are doubled for crimes that take place around schools or other areas where young people gather
- To avoid breaking any laws, keep your prescription in its original container, only use it as prescribed and properly discard any prescriptions that are unused
Is Adderall Illegal?
Adderall (amphetamine) possession becomes an unlawful offense when an individual is caught with the drug without a prescription or in excess of their prescribed amount. Unlawful possession of Adderall can result in arrest, license suspension, court-appointed drug treatment, and monitoring conditions, among other legal and financial repercussions. Possession charges apply to both forms of Adderall: tablets and extended-release capsules.
Adderall (amphetamine) is a brand name prescription amphetamine, most commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Adderall is a stimulant, with extremely addictive qualities. Outside of its recommended medical uses, Adderall has earned popularity in high school, college and workplace environments for its perceived study-enhancing benefits. As a result of its high potential for misuse along with psychological and physical dependence, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Adderall as a Schedule II narcotic.
Possession and distribution of Schedule II controlled substances (like Adderall) without a prescription, or in excess of prescribed amounts, are criminal offenses of varying degrees. The severity of charges is primarily dependent upon the state in which an individual resides and the amount of the substance in their possession at the time of the arrest. However, regardless of the state or amount possessed, Adderall possession without a valid prescription is illegal throughout the United States.
Crimes Associated with Adderall
Adderall is legally available with a prescription from a licensed medical professional. As a controlled substance, possession of Adderall in the absence of a prescription, in an amount that exceeds the prescribed amount, or following the expiration date of a prescription are crimes with significant repercussions. Because of its limited legal availability, individuals without a prescription, or struggling with a substance use disorder, most often obtain Adderall illicitly via the black market.
Criminal penalties for Adderall-related offenses at the state level range from misdemeanors for possession of small quantities, to felony charges for larger amounts, distribution, and fraud. State level penalties are primarily determined by the amount of substance possessed, the intent of possession, and how the substance came into an individual’s possession. Misdemeanor offenses often result in probation, fines, and short prison sentences, whereas felony convictions may lead to upwards of 10 years imprisonment.
Depending upon the nature of the offense, certain criminal conduct associated with Adderall, such as trafficking, is also subject to federal penalties and prosecution. First-time offenders in violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act for Schedule II substances, such as Adderall, face financial penalties of between $1 million and $5 million, alongside an incarceration period of up to 20 years in prison. For individuals with prior trafficking convictions, the financial penalties and imprisonment compound to between $2 and $10 million, and up to 30 years in prison, respectively.
Caught Without My Adderall Prescription
Because of Adderall’s classification as a controlled substance, it can only be legally possessed with a prescription, in an amount equal to or less than the maximum prescribed quantity. If you are caught with Adderall in your possession without a prescription, in an amount greater than your prescription authorizes, the expiration date of the prescription has passed, or are caught attempting to sell your prescription, you will be subjected to state and federal misdemeanor and felony charges. Each of these respective charges carries serious financial and legal consequences.
Adderall Prescription in a Bottle
As is the case with all prescriptions in the United States, an individual prescribed Adderall receives a bottle with a medication label. The label lists the patient’s name and home address, their physicians’ name, their pharmacy’s name, address and telephone number, the prescription name, dosage instructions, the total amount of the prescription contained within the bottle, along with the prescribing and expiring dates.
An individual in possession of Adderall will not face any legal charges so long as the prescription is stored in its original container, the amount within the container matches that of it or is less than the prescribed allotment and the prescription has not yet expired.
Prescription Outside the Bottle
In addition to unlawful possession of controlled substances without a valid prescription, individuals with prescriptions outside of their original containers may also be unknowingly committing a criminal offense. In many states, possession of one’s own scheduled prescription drug (like Adderall), outside of its original container, is treated identically to possession without a prescription. This offense is committed frequently, yet not often prosecuted.
However, in states like Texas and Maine, these offenses are taken very seriously. In both states, a person may only possess his or her prescription drug if it is, “…in the container in which it was delivered by the person selling or dispensing the drug.” The only instance in which a person may lawfully possess a prescription outside of its original container is when the prescription is in use, meaning when the person removes a specific dosage to be consumed. As a result of these laws, scheduled prescription drugs cannot be stored in pockets, purses or any other storage device other than their original container.
Even if an individual was lawfully prescribed Adderall, he or she can be charged with a criminal offense if caught in possession outside of its original bottle. For example, in Texas, Illegal Possession Penalty Group 2, the charge associated with possession of less than one gram of Adderall outside its original container, is a felony offense punishable by between 180 days and two years in jail, alongside a fine of up to $10,000.
Each state has different laws governing the use and storage of prescription drugs, and some exceptions exist; therefore, should an issue arise, it is important to consult with your physician and a knowledgeable attorney regarding your state’s specific laws and regulations.
Caught with Someone Else’s Adderall Prescription
Both state and federal laws dictate the illegality of possessing Adderall (or any other controlled substance), in any form, without a prescription. Illegal possession of Adderall is a serious offense with significant legal and financial repercussions.
For example, in the state of California, the unlawful “simple” possession of Adderall (whether somebody else’s prescription or otherwise) is a misdemeanor, with maximum penalties of one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine.
While Adderall possession without a prescription is universally illegal, you should consult a licensed medical professional or attorney to understand your state’s regulations and penalties related to controlled substance possession.
Getting Caught with Adderall at School
Adderall is common amongst high school and college students. While the legal penalties for Adderall possession on school grounds are no different than the standard state-level offenses, there are instances in which on-campus Adderall possession can bring about unique legal, financial and educational consequences.
If you are caught in possession of Adderall on campus without a prescription, your school reserves the right to suspend, expel or refer you to state and federal authorities for criminal prosecution.
If you have an amount of Adderall constituting an intent to distribute, you are likely to face even more severe legal and financial repercussions. Under the Controlled Substances Act, a person convicted of selling or attempting to sell amphetamines (such as Adderall) near a school, including a college, or other areas where young people may be present, faces twice the maximum prison sentence, twice the maximum fine and twice the term of supervised release. As a result, if you are charged with intent to distribute in the vicinity of a school, you will face federal felony penalties of up to 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $10 million.
Getting Caught High on Adderall
In addition to the illegality of possession, the trafficking, and sale of Adderall, it is also unlawful to use Adderall without a prescription or medical purpose. For example, in the state of Colorado, the illegal use of a controlled substance, like Adderall, is classified as a level 2 misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 12 months in prison and a $750 fine. If an individual is on probation, random drug test programs can detect Adderall and such detection will result in additional legal and financial penalties.
Adderall is detectable through a variety of drug test forms, including urine, blood, saliva, and hair follicle tests. Adderall has a relatively short half-life of between 9 and 14 hours but is still detectable for up to 7 days in urine tests, 24 hours in blood tests, and up to 90 days in hair follicle tests.
In the event of a failed drug test while on probation or other drug conditions, an individual may face excessive legal and financial penalties — much greater than that of their initial offense.
United States Department of Justice. “Controlled Substance Schedules.” Accessed April 15, 2019.
Schneider Freiberger. “Adderall Charges in New Jersey.” Accessed April 15, 2019.
Yeh, Brian T. “Drug Offenses: Maximum Fines and Term[…]and Related Laws.” Congressional Research Service, January 20, 2015. Accessed April 15, 2019.
RxOutreach. “Understanding Prescription Medication Labels.” Accessed April 15, 2019.
The Goolsby Law Firm. “Can I Be Arrested for Possession Prescription Drugs?” September 19, 2016. Accessed April 15, 2019.
Ed Folsom Law. “ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF YOUR OWN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS.” Accessed April 15, 2019.
Kevin Bennett Law. “Possession of Adderall.” Accessed April 15, 2019.
Shouse, Neil. “Is Illegal Possession of Adderall a F[…]ny in California?” Shouse California Law Group, December 24, 2018. Accessed April 15, 2019.
England, Deborah C. “Distribution of Amphetamines: Criminal Penalties and Laws.” NOLO. Accessed April 15, 2019.
Colorado Legal Defense Group. “Colorado “use of a controlled subst[…]8-18-404 C.R.S.).” Accessed April 15, 2019.
US Drug Test Centers. “Probation Drug Testing.” Accessed April 15, 2019.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.