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Is Adderall a controlled substance and addictive?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Nov 8, 2022.

Official answer


Yes, Adderall is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). It is a central nervous system stimulant with a high potential for abuse or drug dependence.

Keep Adderall in a safe place away from others to prevent misuse and abuse. Selling or giving away Adderall may harm others, and is against the law.

Adderall is approved by the FDA to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It contains mixed salts of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, stimulating drugs that work in the brain to help control hyperactivity and impulse control.

Because these medicines are stimulants, many people inappropriately use them to stay awake and alert for work or study. Others may mix amphetamines with alcohol or illegal or mind-altering drugs for the euphoric ("high") effects.

Related: The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedules

Does Adderall contain a warning about drug abuse / addiction?

Yes, amphetamines like Adderall are a highly sought-after and abusable prescription medicines. Some people take these medicines at doses that are many times higher than recommended, which can lead to severe side effects.

Adderall contains a Boxed Warning, the FDA’s most prominent warning, stating that amphetamines have a high potential for abuse. In general it says:

  • Prolonged administration may lead to drug dependence / addiction and should be avoided.
  • Importantly, some people may try to obtain amphetamines (like Adderall) for non-medical use or to give or sell to others.
  • Amphetamine should be prescribed or dispensed sparingly by healthcare providers.

In addition, misuse of amphetamine may lead to sudden death or serious heart-related side effects. Other heart-problems can include: stroke, heart attack, increased blood pressure and increased heart rate.

Long-term intoxication due to amphetamines can cause side effects like:

  • severe skin conditions
  • severe insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • irritability and mood changes
  • hyperactivity
  • personality changes
  • psychosis (such as hearing voices, believing things that are not true, being suspicious)

Tell your healthcare provider if you or your child has ever abused or been dependent on alcohol, prescription medicines or street drugs. Tell them if these is a family history of this type of problem. You or a family member may high a higher risk for abuse or addiction to this medicine.

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