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Adderall side effects: A detailed guide

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More common side effectsMild side effectsSerious side effectsSide effects in childrenSide effects females vs. malesFAQsWithdrawal, dependence, and misuseCouponSide effects in detailWarningsAsk your doctor
Adderall and Adderall XR are prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults and some children. Adderall is also prescribed to treat narcolepsy. It’s a stimulant drug that may cause mild or serious side effects, including nervousness and dependence.
Medically reviewed by Amber R. Watson, PharmD
Updated on February 2, 2023

Adderall comes in two oral forms, called Adderall and Adderall XR. Adderall is an immediate-release* tablet that you swallow. Adderall XR is an extended-release* capsule that you swallow.

Adderall and Adderall XR are brand-name drugs. They’re available in generic versions called amphetamine/dextroamphetamine salts. This article describes possible side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR. You’ll also find information on cost savings and coupon options for Adderall and Adderall XR.

You can explore this overview article to learn more about Adderall and Adderall XR, including the drugs’ uses, dosage, ways to save on cost, and more.

* With immediate release, the drug is released as soon as you swallow it. With extended release, the drug is slowly released in your body over time after you swallow it.

Boxed warning: Risk of drug misuse and dependence

Adderall and Adderall XR have a boxed warning for the risk of drug misuse and dependence. Boxed warnings are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For details, see the “Withdrawal, dependence, misuse, and Adderall” section below.

More common side effects of Adderall

Adderall and Adderall XR may cause mild or serious side effects. Below are some of the more common side effects of this medication.

Commonly reported side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR include:

Note this is not a complete list of side effects. Some side effects may occur more often with one drug form compared with the other. To see how often side effects occurred, see the prescribing information for Adderall and Adderall XR.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR in detail” section below.

Mild side effects of Adderall

Adderall and Adderall XR may cause certain mild side effects. Most often, mild side effects are temporary and can be easily managed. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have side effects that don’t go away or become bothersome.

Mild side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR can include:

Adderall and Adderall XR may cause more mild side effects than those listed above. For details, see the prescribing information for Adderall and Adderall XR.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR in detail” section below.
† An allergic reaction is possible with Adderall and Adderall XR. But it’s unclear whether it occurred in the drug’s studies.

Serious side effects of Adderall

Adderall and Adderall XR may cause certain serious side effects. If you have any serious side effects from Adderall or Adderall XR, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency or your side effects feel life threatening, take immediate action. Call 911 or a local emergency number or go to the nearest emergency room.

After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. Visit the MedWatch website if you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Adderall or Adderall XR.

Serious side effects that occurred in studies of Adderall and Adderall XR include:

* Adderall and Adderall XR have a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA. To learn more, see the “Withdrawal, dependence, misuse, and Adderall” section below.
† An allergic reaction is possible with Adderall and Adderall XR. But it’s unclear whether it occurred in the drug’s studies.

Side effects of Adderall in children

Stimulant drugs, such as Adderall and Adderall XR, can slow growth in some children. Usually, this side effect is temporary. So your child will likely continue to grow as usual once they stop taking the drug. But if your child’s growth slows down too much, their doctor may stop their Adderall treatment.

Adderall and Adderall XR are approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in some children. For this purpose, Adderall can be prescribed to children ages 3 years and older, and Adderall XR can be prescribed to children ages 6 years and older. Adderall is also prescribed to treat narcolepsy in children ages 6 years and older.

If you’re concerned about side effects of Adderall or Adderall XR in your child, talk with their doctor.

Side effects of Adderall in females vs. males

Studies of Adderall and Adderall XR did not report different side effects based on sex. But in a study of people taking stimulants such as Adderall, females* reported certain side effects more often than males.* These included nausea, loss of appetite, and headache.

On the other hand, males reported sweating and certain sexual side effects more often. These included changes in libido (sex drive) and erectile dysfunction.

If you’re concerned about certain side effects, talk with your doctor. They can give recommendations on how to manage them.

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. In this article, we use the terms “male” and “female” to refer to a person’s sex assigned at birth.

Common questions about side effects of Adderall

Here are answers to some common questions about side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR. If you have other questions, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Does Adderall or Adderall XR cause long-term side effects?

Possibly. Adderall and Adderall XR may cause long-term side effects for some people and short-term side effects for others. Usually, common side effects* such as digestive problems, trouble sleeping, and loss of appetite happen less often over time. But for some people, these side effects continue for as long as they take the drug.

Similar to other stimulant drugs, Adderall and Adderall XR misuse can lead to psychological and physical dependence when it’s taken long term.† (With misuse, a drug is taken in a way other than how it’s prescribed. With dependence, your body needs the drug in order to function like usual.) In some cases, brain changes involving decreases in dopamine (a kind of brain chemical) can occur.

For more details on the short- and long-term effects of Adderall, talk with your doctor. You can also view this article to learn more.

* To learn more about the common side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR, see the “More common side effects of Adderall” section above.
Adderall and Adderall XR have a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Withdrawal, dependence, misuse, and Adderall” section below.

Are numbness and tingling side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR?

Numbness and tingling can be symptoms of circulation problems in the fingers and toes, including Raynaud’s disease. This is a possible serious side effect* of Adderall and Adderall XR.

With circulation problems, your fingers and toes may feel numb, cool, painful, or tingly. They may look paler than the surrounding skin or change color to blue or red. You may also develop unexplained wounds on your fingers or toes.

Tell your doctor immediately if you experience symptoms of circulation problems while taking Adderall or Adderall XR. They may lower your dosage or have you stop treatment. (For details about the dosages of Adderall and Adderall XR, see this article.)

* To learn more about the serious side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR, see the “Serious side effects of Adderall” section above.

If I take Adderall or Adderall XR, will I experience increased sweating?

Yes, sweating can be a mild side effect of Adderall XR. But this was not a common side effect in studies of the drug. Sweating was not reported in studies of Adderall.

Mild side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR usually happen less often over time during treatment. But if your sweating doesn’t go away or becomes worse, talk with your doctor.

Can Adderall and Adderall XR cause weight gain?

No, Adderall and Adderall XR are not known to cause weight gain. This was not a side effect reported in studies of Adderall and Adderall XR. Instead, weight loss and loss of appetite are possible side effects of the drugs.

It’s unlikely that any weight gain you experience during your treatment will be related to Adderall or Adderall XR. If you’re concerned about weight gain during your treatment, talk with your doctor.

Withdrawal, dependence, misuse, and Adderall

Adderall and Adderall XR have a boxed warning for the risk of drug misuse and dependence. Boxed warnings are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Due to this risk, Adderall and Adderall XR are known as controlled substances, which means they’re regulated by the government.

Misuse and dependence weren’t reported in studies of Adderall or Adderall XR. But stimulant drugs are known to have these risks, and Adderall and Adderall XR are stimulant drugs.

Misuse of Adderall or Adderall XR over time can lead to dependence. With misuse, a drug is taken in a way other than how it’s prescribed. With dependence, your body needs the drug in order to function like usual.

Serious side effects, such as heart problems and death, are possible with misuse of Adderall or Adderall XR. Withdrawal symptoms can also occur after stopping Adderall or Adderall XR treatment. Withdrawal describes symptoms that can occur when you stop taking a drug your body is dependent on.

Withdrawal symptoms of stimulant drugs such as Adderall and Adderall XR include:

If you’re concerned about withdrawal, dependence, or misuse with Adderall or Adderall XR, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

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Side effects of Adderall in detail

Below you’ll find details on some of the side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR.

Headache

One of the most common side effects of Adderall XR is headache. Headache pain can be dull and constant, throbbing, or sharp. Headache was not reported in studies of Adderall.

Ways to manage

Usually, mild side effects such as headache will happen less often over time. But if your headaches continue during Adderall treatment, talk with your doctor.

Keeping track of your headaches in a journal can help your doctor figure out what’s triggering them. You can record when a headache occurs, the kind of pain you have, and if there was a headache trigger.

To help prevent headaches in general, try to:

Hair loss

Hair loss may occur while taking Adderall or Adderall XR. This side effect was not reported in the drugs’ studies.* Rather, it was reported after the drugs became available for use.

It’s not known how often hair loss occurs in people taking Adderall or Adderall XR. And it’s not known whether the drugs directly cause it.

Ways to manage

If you notice that your hair is falling out or becoming thinner during Adderall treatment, talk with your doctor. They can help determine the cause and may be able to recommend ways to manage your hair loss.

Some general tips for hair care include:

* For details about the drugs’ studies, see the prescribing information for Adderall and Adderall XR.

 Constipation

Some people may experience constipation while taking Adderall and Adderall XR. Constipation was commonly reported in the drugs’ studies.*

With constipation, you may have trouble having a bowel movement. Your stools may be hard and lumpy. Other symptoms may include pain or straining during a bowel movement.

Ways to manage

Usually, constipation will occur less often over time. But if your constipation continues while taking Adderall or Adderall XR, talk with your doctor. They may recommend drinking plenty of water or increasing fiber-containing foods in your diet. They may also advise avoiding processed foods and skipping meals, as doing so can contribute to constipation.

If you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, it’s important that you do not delay it. Your stool can become harder the longer you wait. Raising your knees on a footstool during a bowel movement may also be helpful.

* For details about the drugs’ studies, see the prescribing information for Adderall and Adderall XR.

Allergic reaction

For some people, Adderall and Adderall XR can cause an allergic reaction. But it’s not clear whether this side effect occurred in studies of Adderall and Adderall XR.

Symptoms can be mild or serious, and they may include:

  • itchiness
  • skin rash
  • swelling under the skin, usually affecting eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of the mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)

Ways to manage

For mild allergic reaction symptoms, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may recommend treatments to help manage your symptoms. They’ll also let you know whether you should keep taking the medication.

For severe allergic reaction symptoms, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms require immediate medical care because they can become life threatening. If you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Adderall and Adderall XR, your doctor may recommend you take a different medication.

Warnings for Adderall

Below are some factors you may want to discuss with your doctor before taking Adderall or Adderall XR.

Boxed warnings: Risk of drug misuse and dependence

Adderall and Adderall XR have a boxed warning for the risk of drug misuse and dependence. Boxed warnings are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For details, see the “Withdrawal, dependence, misuse, and Adderall” section above.

Other warnings

It may not be safe for you to take Adderall or Adderall XR if you have specific health conditions. These are sometimes called drug-condition interactions. Other things may also affect whether Adderall or Adderall XR is a safe treatment option for you.

Before taking Adderall or Adderall XR, tell your doctor about your health and any medications you take. Things to consider include those listed below.

Mental health condition. Symptoms of mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, and a psychotic disorder, can worsen during Adderall and Adderall XR treatment. Tell your doctor if you have any changes in your mood or behavior while taking the drug.

Heart disease. Adderall and Adderall XR can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. So if you have a serious heart problem, your risk of heart attack, stroke, and sudden death may increase during treatment. If you have heart disease, talk with your doctor to find out whether Adderall is right for you.

History of drug misuse or dependence. Adderall and Adderall XR are controlled substances that have a risk of misuse and dependence.* Due to this risk, if you’ve ever misused a drug or have been dependent on one, your doctor won’t likely prescribe Adderall.

Glaucoma. Adderall or Adderall XR treatment can worsen glaucoma. Due to this risk, your doctor will likely not prescribe Adderall if you have this condition.

Thyroid problems. If you have an overactive thyroid, taking Adderall or Adderall XR can worsen your symptoms. Due to this risk, your doctor won’t usually prescribe Adderall if you have this condition.

Tourette syndrome or tics. Tics (uncontrollable movements or verbal sounds) can worsen while taking Adderall or Adderall XR. If you have Tourette syndrome or if you’ve ever had tics, talk with your doctor. They can tell you whether Adderall or Adderall XR is a safe treatment option for you.

Seizures. The risk of seizures may increase while taking Adderall or Adderall XR. If you’ve ever had seizures, talk with your doctor before starting treatment with either drug.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Adderall or Adderall XR or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe this medication. Ask them about other treatment options that may be better for you.

* Adderall and Adderall XR have a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the FDA. To learn more, see the “Withdrawal, dependence, misuse, and Adderall” section above.

Adderall and pregnancy

It’s not known whether Adderall or Adderall XR affects a fetus during pregnancy. There have been cases of premature birth and symptoms of withdrawal* in children born to people who took stimulant drugs. Adderall and Adderall XR are stimulant drugs. (Withdrawal describes symptoms that can occur when you stop taking a drug your body is dependent on.)

There’s a pregnancy exposure registry called the National Pregnancy Registry for ADHD Medications. This registry monitors the effects of Adderall and Adderall XR during pregnancy. If you’re interested in enrolling in this registry, call 866-961-2388 or visit this website. Your doctor can also help you enroll.

Talk with your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. They’ll discuss the risks and benefits of taking Adderall and Adderall XR during pregnancy.

* To learn more about withdrawal, see the “Withdrawal, dependence, misuse, and Adderall” section above.

Adderall and breastfeeding

You should not breastfeed during treatment with Adderall and Adderall XR. The drugs can pass into breast milk, which may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.

Talk with your doctor about safe ways to feed your child while taking Adderall or Adderall XR.

Adderall and alcohol

Adderall and Adderall XR are not known to interact* with alcohol. But Adderall or Adderall XR taken with alcohol can be dangerous for some people.

There is an increased risk of heart-related problems when Adderall or Adderall XR is taken with alcohol. These problems include irregular or increased heart rate and high blood pressure.

Adderall or Adderall XR can also mask the effects of alcohol. This can increase your risk of consuming dangerous amounts of alcohol.

If you’d like to drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about whether it’s safe to consume it during your treatment with Adderall or Adderall XR.

* For details about the interactions of Adderall, see this article.

What to ask your doctor

This article describes common and serious side effects of Adderall and Adderall XR. If your doctor prescribes this medication, they can discuss possible side effects with you. Let your doctor know if you have concerns or questions about treatment with this medication.

Here’s a list of some possible questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • Will I have more side effects if you increase my dosage of Adderall XR?
  • Do adults have different side effects from Adderall than children?
  • How do the side effects of other similar drugs compare with those of Adderall and Adderall XR?

Disclaimer: Optum Perks has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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