Find out at what point a good work ethic is considered a work addiction and how some people utilize Adderall to fuel their work addictions.

Adderall is a brand-name prescription stimulant that contains the chemicals dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies it as a Schedule 2 controlled substance because of its abuse potential. Adderall is intended to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. 

Adderall is addictive and people who use it can develop tolerance and dependence as well as physically detrimental health effects such as irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. It is important that someone using Adderall is taking it under the supervision of a medical professional and that the lowest dose that adequately controls symptoms is used. Adderall has not been studied well regarding long-term use, so it is especially important for people who take Adderall to be re-evaluated regularly.

Article at a Glance:

  • Some people abuse Adderall or other stimulants to get ahead at school or work
  • Adderall use is associated with risks of serious heart problems as well as psychiatric issues
  • Work addiction can be associated with depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, sleep disorders and exhaustion
  • Adverse effects of Adderall use along with a severe work addiction could be associated with serious health risks including heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke
  • Comprehensive addiction treatment can address multiple addictions and behavioral health issues
  • It is important to discuss both Adderall abuse and work addiction with a professional.

Work Addiction: What Is It?

Work addiction is a condition in which a person is preoccupied with work, to the degree that it becomes detrimental to their health. Sometimes people develop a work addiction because they aim for success in their careers, but it is important to know that striving for success and struggling with work addiction are different. 

There is a set of criteria that can be used to identify work addiction, called the Bergen Work Addiction Scale. Working and achieving career goals is considered a healthy mentality, so it can be difficult to assess whether a person has a work addiction. Generally, if working and thinking about work takes up most of a person’s time, and it begins to cause problems elsewhere in their life, they may have a work addiction. Often, an addiction to work or other behavioral addictions can be associated with feelings of loss of control or helplessness.

Symptoms of work addiction can include:

  • Thinking about how to work more
  • Working to avoid dealing with negative feelings like anxiety, guilt or depression
  • Being told to work less by others, but not being able to reduce time spent working
  • Spending more time working than intended
  • Feeling stressed out when unable to work
  • Decreasing time spent on hobbies and other non-work activities to work more
  • Amount of time spent working is affecting physical and mental health.

The Relationship between Adderall and Work Addiction

One of the major symptoms of work addiction is trying to constantly work more or attempting to work as much as possible. Stimulant medications like Adderall can help a person to work longer hours because of its ability to promote wakefulness, increased energy and increased motivation. Some people who take Adderall for legitimate medical purposes like ADHD or narcolepsy may find that it helps them in their work life. They may request higher doses to improve work productivity.

A 2015 article from The New York Times shares the story of a career-oriented woman that relied on Adderall to stay competitive in her industry. She slept very little and required other substances like sedatives and alcohol to help her calm down as it kept her awake. She attended a treatment program after realizing she had a problem and was able to overcome her disorder.

Dangers of Using Adderall and Work Addiction

Adderall use or abuse is associated with many adverse effects, and Adderall addiction can be difficult to overcome even when it is the only problem a person is dealing with. If a person also has another ongoing addictive process, it may be even harder to overcome these addictive habits. There have not been controlled studies about specific dangers of Adderall use and work addiction, but there are some factors to consider.

Adderall use is associated with major heart and cardiovascular system problems, even when used with a legitimate prescription. Some of these issues include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased heart rate
  • Stroke 
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • High blood pressure

Adderall use can also cause psychiatric side effects, including: 

  • Psychosis or mania — even in people without a history of such events
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Worsening of pre-existing bipolar disorder
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability

Work addiction can often be associated with anxiety and irritability, and these symptoms can be worsened by taking Adderall. Although striving for success in a career is usually considered a positive goal, if it becomes the sole focus in someone’s life, it can become harmful to one’s health. People with severe work addictions can develop sleep disorders, exhaustion, weight gain, anxiety, and experience strained relationships, depression and hypertension. Many of these symptoms are associated with serious health risks.

Similarities Between Adderall and Work Addiction

Any addiction, whether it involves a substance like Adderall or behavior like work addiction, is characterized by activation of the brain’s reward system so that a person seeks the reward despite negative consequences. Dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical, is involved in this process of reward and reinforcement. People with addiction disorders often do not realize they have a problem or that their addiction is negatively impacting their lives and the lives of those around them.

Several individual factors play a role in whether someone becomes addicted to a substance or behavior, including genetics, personality, environment and education level. Addiction can cause a person to feel shame since they might feel that recovery is impossible. Professional assistance and appropriate treatment programs can help individuals overcome addiction, even if multiple addictions are co-occurring.

Adderall and Work Addiction Statistics

According to a 2011 article which used data from many different studies, the prevalence of work addiction was estimated to be around 10%. No specific relationship of Adderall use and work addiction was investigated, but in people with work addiction, 20% had a co-occurring alcohol addiction or illicit drug addiction, which could include stimulants that work similarly to how Adderall works.

In a report based on data from 2017, about 1.8 million people over the age of 12 reported abuse of prescription stimulants. About 715,000 people 18 to 25 years old reported abuse within the month prior, and about 1 million people 26 years or older were abusing those drugs. About 572,000 people over the age of 12 had a stimulant use disorder in the previous year.

Most of the studies that investigated Adderall abuse as it relates to performance were conducted in adolescents and young adults regarding their educational performance or studying. A 2015 study found that about 17% of college students said they abused stimulant medications

No specific data about the statistics of Adderall use and work addiction are currently available, but there are likely many people who use Adderall or other stimulants to increase work performance. 

Adderall and Work Addiction Treatment

Appropriate treatment for Adderall use disorder is important, especially if other psychological conditions are present, such as work addiction. Some people may recover from addiction only to become addicted to exercise or other behaviors. Professional treatment can help provide healthy coping mechanisms during recovery and minimize the chance of replacing one addiction with another.

If someone is struggling with Adderall and a work addiction, a comprehensive treatment program that includes counseling, behavioral therapy, medical management and group therapy can be beneficial and may help lessen the chances of relapse. Every person has their own experiences, goals and needs, and an individualized program will improve the chances of success in recovery.

If you struggle with a substance use disorder, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village to speak with a representative about how addiction treatment can help you. Patients at The Recovery Village receive personalized treatment programs that address addictions along with any co-occurring mental health disorders, like work addiction. You deserve a healthier future, call today.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Christina Caplinger, RPh
Christina Caplinger is a licensed pharmacist in both Colorado and Idaho and is also a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist. Read more

DailyMed. “Adderall (tablets)”>.” October 14, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2019.

HealthLine. “Work Addiction.”>” June 9, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2019.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indi[…]e and Health.” September 2018. Accessed June 30, 2019.

Benson, Kari; et al. “Misuse of Stimulant Medication Among Col[…]eta-analysis.” March 2015. Accessed June 30, 2019.

Sussman, S, et al. “Prevalence of the Addictions: A Problem […]the Minority?” March 2011. Accessed May 19, 2019.

Sussman, Steve; Lisha, Nadra; Griffiths, Mark. “Workaholism: A Review.”>” November 21, 2013. Accessed June 30, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

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.