adderall overdose

Adderall Overdose: What’s The Science Behind It?

adderall overdose
Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient's unique health circumstances and needs.

Currently, about 25 million people rely on stimulant medications like Adderall to manage the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), narcolepsy, and depression. Most people associate drug use with ADHD in kids. Though kids are among the primary users of the stimulant drug, in about 60% of adults, the symptoms of ADHD persist. As such, the drug is also quite commonly used in adults.

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Adderall was discovered somewhat accidentally in the late 1920s by Gordon Alles, an American scientist. The scientist was looking for a synthesized substance resembling adrenaline that has been proven to assist in bronchial relaxation among patients with asthma. Alles created beta-phenyl-isopropylamine, also called amphetamine. He noted the drug-induced general feeling of wellness followed by a somewhat sleepless night after injecting himself. By 1930s, the drug was used to elevate mood, increase vigilance and boost energy. Over the years, amphetamine was used to generate different effects until the 1990s when Roger Griggs tweaked its formula to make amphetamine dextroamphetamine (Adderall).

Though Adderall has proven quite beneficial in managing depression, narcolepsy and ADHD, there has been an increase in its overdose.

Below are a few guidelines that will help you understand the science behind Adderall overdose, what to expect, and how to handle it: 

1. How Does Adderall Work?

Adderall is a stimulant that targets the central nervous system. This system increases neurotransmitters called serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. In increasing them, Adderall speeds your brain activity. The drug works for 4-6 hours.

2. What Is The Standard Dosage Of Adderall?

The standard dose of Adderall is 2.5-60 mg daily. The drug is available in strengths of:

  • 30 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 15 mg
  • 12.5 mg
  • 10 mg
  • 7.5 mg
  • 5 mg

There is also an extended-release version that comes in strengths of 30 mg, 25 mg, 20 mg, 15 mg, 10 mg, and 5 mg. Adolescents generally start their Adderall dosage at 10 mg/day, while 20 mg/day is the standard dose for adults.

adderall dosage

Lethal Adderall Dosage

3. Side Effects of Adderall

Like most drugs, Adderall might cause some side effects even when taken as prescribed by your doctor.

The common side effects include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach aches
  • Dry mouth

4. Adderall Misuse

The effect of Adderall on neurotransmitters is the primary reason that has led to its abuse among college students. When dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are increased, students can stay up for extended periods so that they can study to keep up with the pressures of higher education; a subject addressed in the Stiles Adderall Overdose Fanfic story. Patients with an Adderall prescription also sometimes take a higher dosage than is recommended to increase the drug’s benefits.

Adderall comes in a tablet form that is meant to be swallowed. However, some people crush the drug, snort its powder, dissolve the powder in water, and inject it into a vein. Altering the form in which Adderall is designed to be taken gives you a medication surge within a short period. This increases the risk of overdosing.

Adderall has also been shown to suppress appetite and is thus sometimes abused as a weight-loss option. In other instances, the drug is mixed with alcohol or other drugs like Focalin (also used to manage ADHD) to get “high.” This is worth noting because research has linked non-medical Adderall use to alcohol and marijuana dependence. Researchers have warned that Adderall misuse prevalence is often underreported and denied. The denial of the drug’s abuse is among the leading reasons for the poor outcomes of medical intervention in the reported Adderall overdose stories.

5. Adderall Overdose Symptoms

The FDA categorizes Adderall as a schedule II [1*] because of its high risk of addiction, diversion, and abuse. In 2011, over 17000 people underwent Adderall overdose EMS care for adverse reactions related to the drug’s use. When taken in excess, Adderall can lead to brain damage, coma, and even death.

Its stimulant nature raises your heart rate, respiratory rates, body temperature, and blood pressure to dangerous levels. It also changes the brain chemicals that regulate concentration, energy levels, sleep functions, appetite, and pleasure.

People have different sensitivity levels to stimulants. As such, there is no clear answer on what’s an Adderall overdose? The amount of Adderall that constitutes an overdose varies among people. Some people have died from an Adderall overdose after ingesting as small an amount as 1.5 mg/kg body weight of the drug. Moreover, the overdose symptoms are worse in cases of a Focalin and Adderall overdose because both drugs work similarly on the same neurotransmitters.

Below are some of the symptoms of an Adderall overdose:

Mild symptoms: 

  • Hyperactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Headaches
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Confusion

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Severe symptoms: 

  • Heart attack
  • Aggressiveness
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Tremors
  • Panic
  • Breakdown of muscles (Rhabdomyolosis)

6. Adderall Overdose in Dogs

The effects of Adderall toxicity are not limited to humans. There have also been cases of Adderall overdose in dogs and other animals. This often follows the ingestion of drugs that have been carelessly placed though a few pet owners allow their dogs to take Adderall as an experiment.

Some of the symptoms of Adderall overdosing in dogs include:

  • Panting
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sedation
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Aggression

The onset of symptoms of Adderall toxicity in your dog will depend on the animal’s sensitivity level and how much it has ingested. If the time frame between Adderall ingestion and seeking medical attention is short, a vet will try to induce vomiting in the dog. If unsuccessful, your dog might be given activated charcoal or other absorbents that keep the drug from binding to body receptors. The different steps of care will depend on the symptoms that your dog is experiencing.

7. Adderall Overdose Home Remedy

An Adderall overdose is nothing to take lightly. If you notice the symptoms mentioned above after taking Adderall, you should immediately contact emergency care. While waiting for the EMS personnel to arrive, a few first aid steps can increase the patient’s chances of survival.

Here are some home remedies you can institute before emergency care comes:

  • Give the patient drinking water to prevent dehydration.
  • Try to de-escalate any aggravated and panicked behavior in the patient.
    • Talking to him/her calmly might reassure the patient to keep calm and avoid hurting him/herself.
    • Keep your tone even and try not to overreact even when the person becomes hostile.
  • If the patient’s temperature is elevated, try to cool him/her by going outside for fresh air, putting him/her in a cold bath, or applying ice packs.
  • Ask the patient open-ended questions about how much Adderall he/she has taken and when he/she took it. Also, ask about other medications he/she is taking and for how long he/she has been on Adderall. This information will be helpful to paramedics.
  • Ensure the patient’s area is free of anything that he/she might use to hurt him/herself. This is particularly important when you appreciate that some cases of Adderall overdose are suicidal attempts.

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8. Adderall Overdose Treatment

The management of Adderall overdose is dependent on the symptoms with which the patient will present. Before starting treatment, however, doctors will run some tests to determine any severe health complications and know the extent of toxicity they are handling. Some of the typical tests they might order include liver function tests, electrocardiography, kidney function tests, blood toxicity levels, and CT scans to check for internal bleeds.

Below are some of the approaches used to manage an Adderall overdose:

  • Sedation: In most cases, Adderall overdose patients are incredibly agitated. Therefore, hospital staff and paramedics often sedate a person with benzodiazepine, an antipsychotic drug. The typical drug used in this case is diazepam administered as an oral or intravenous dose. When a patient is too agitated, the medication might be given intramuscularly.
  • Intravenous fluids: Most patients need intravenous fluids to manage dehydration and correct the common electrolyte imbalances associated with Adderall.
  • Beta-blockers to manage the cardiovascular symptoms associated with Adderall toxicity, including rapid heartbeats and high blood pressure. These drugs will block the effect of norepinephrine, one of the increased neurotransmitters in an Adderall overdose. Calcium channels and alpha-blockers can also effectively manage cardiovascular symptoms.
  • Activated charcoal to absorb the circulating Adderall.
  • Having the stomach pumped to get rid of undissolved Adderall tablets.

After these steps, doctors might recommend a few steps after you have checked out of the hospital to help you recover from an Adderall overdose and prevent the same in the future.

These steps include:

  • Outpatient behavioral treatments mostly involving group and individual counseling sessions.
  • Inpatient addiction rehabilitation treatment involves supervised detoxification, addiction-related education, [2*] group therapy, and tools to help you beat addiction.
  • Addiction recovery meetings.
adderall overdose

Treating Adderall Overdose

The Long-Term Effects of Adderall Overdose

Sometimes, people get away with little, or no symptoms of Adderall overdose. Moreover, the signs and complications of Adderall overdosing are often temporary. They clear once the drug is flushed from your system. Even so, the long-term effects of continued Adderall abuse should worry you.

Some of the common symptoms of long-term Adderall overdosing include:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lethargy
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of motivation
  • Aggression
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Tremors
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia

The long-term effects of overdosing Adderall can be treated- Click below to get the most effective treatment.

Key Takeaways

Dealing with ADHD can take a significant toll on your life and that of your loved ones, more so when faced with the danger of overdosing on Adderall. Hopefully, the guidelines above on Adderall overdosing have placed you in a better position on what to expect. It would be best to have a clinic with the best expertise and equipment to handle issues like Adderall overdosing that you might deal with at different points of your diagnosis.

EZCare Clinic is your best choice when aiming for the right dosage to keep your ADHD symptoms controlled or handle emergencies related to your condition. Book your appointment today!


+2 sources
  1. Controlled Substance Schedules
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  2. The Impact of Early School Behavior and Educational Achievement on Adult Drug Use Disorders: A Prospective Study. (2008)
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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.