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Updated June 10, 2014

Adderall Basics:

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant comprised of mixed amphetamine salts.

Use of Adderall:

Adderall is used for the treatment of ADHD in children over age 3 years and in adults to improve attention span, decrease distractibility, reduce hyperactivity and restlessness, and decrease impulsivity. Adderall XR is approved for the treatment of ADHD in children age 6 years and older, as well as adults.

Adderall should be used as part of a total treatment program for ADHD that may include behavioral modification programs, organizational training, counseling, coaching, parent training and other therapies.

(Adderall may also be prescribed for narcolepsy-uncontrollable attacks of sleep)

Adderall Facts:

Brand name – Adderall

Generic ingredients - amphetamines

Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant prescription medicine.

Adderall is a federally controlled substance because it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to dependence if used in large doses over long periods of time. Use only as prescribed by your doctor. Keep Adderall in a safe place where it will not be used by others for non-therapeutic use.

Adderall is manufactured by Shire Pharmaceuticals.

Forms of Adderall:

Available in immediate release (Adderall) and extended release (Adderall XR) forms.

Adderall releases stimulant medication immediately after ingestion. It is available in 5, 10, 20, and 30 mg capsules. Adderall is often taken two to three times a day with effects lasting 4 to 6 hours.

Adderall XR releases the stimulant medication immediately after ingestion, and also again approximately 4 to 6 hours later. Adderall XR is available in 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 mg capsules. Adderall XR is a once a day medication and may remain effective for up to 12 hours.

Adderall Side Effects:

Common side effects may include headache, stomachache, difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite, weight loss, dry mouth, nervousness, mood changes, dizziness, and increased tics.

More serious side effects include slowing of growth (height and weight) in children, increased blood pressure and heart rate, seizures (mainly in patients with a history of seizures), eyesight changes or blurred vision. Adderall may make symptoms of existing mental illness worse, has a potential for abuse, and can cause strokes, heart attacks or even sudden death in patients with a history of pre-existing heart problems.

Who Should Not Take Adderall:

Adderall may not be right or needs to be used with caution if you or your child has a heart defect or any other heart problems including high blood pressure and heart or blood vessel disease, overactive thyroid, glaucoma, or history of drug abuse.

Adderall should not be taken by anyone who is taking a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI), a drug used to treat depression, or if the individual has stopped taking an MAOI in the last 14 days. Other medicines can also interact with Adderall to cause serious side effects, so tell the doctor if you or your child is taking any additional medicines, supplements or vitamins.

What You Need To Know:

You or your child’s doctor will usually start Adderall at a low dose and then carefully adjust the dosage upwards as needed in order to find the most effective dosage with the least side effects.

Take Adderall exactly as prescribed. Adderall should be taken by mouth in the morning, with or without food. Capsules may be swallowed whole or opened and sprinkled on food, such as applesauce, for children who cannot swallow pills. Never chew or crush the capsule or the medicine inside the capsule.

Additional Information:

Your doctor should check you or your child’s blood pressure and heart rate regularly during treatment with Adderall. Call your doctor right away if you or your child have any signs of heart problems, chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting. If your child is taking Adderall, the doctor should also check your child’s height and weight regularly.

Call the doctor if you or your child have any new or worsening symptoms of mental problems, especially seeing, hearing, or believing things that are not real.

Store Adderall at room temperature in a tight, light-resistant container.


Food and Drug Administration, Adderall and Adderall XR Patient Information Sheet and Medication Guide.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  4. Treatment of ADD/ADHD
  5. What Is Adderall? - Medication for ADHD

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