Adderall Effects on Personality 

Adderall is one of the most commonly prescribed and commonly abused drugs in the United States. The central nervous system stimulant is often prescribed to help treat those diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For those with ADHD, Adderall works by bringing down the brain from a state of overstimulation to a state of baseline stimulation. It helps to slow down their minds by adjusting specific chemical levels in the brain that can produce clarity and focus. Adderall also increases a person’s ability to pay attention and control impulse behaviors. It can be very effective and helpful for those who suffer from ADHD. Because of its psychological impact on the brain, some have found that taking Adderall can have effects on personality.

A young man who's body is split into two different characteristics represents Adderall effects on personality.

Slight character changes can be noticeable in those who take Adderall. However, Adderall doesn’t have the ability to make any permanent changes or impact on a person’s core personality and their core values. There are in fact many combining factors that can influence personality changes when a person is on Adderall medication. It may be more noticeable in those who do not have ADHD and are taking Adderall, in those who take high doses of Adderall, or just the individual response to the stimulant medication in general. The changes in personality can be seen in a person’s motivation, productivity, relationship dynamics and even in daily activities.

What is Adderall?

The National Center for Health Research found that an estimated 75% of prescription stimulant abuse, including Adderall abuse, happens on college and high school campuses. Also known as “study buddies” and “smart drugs”, Adderall is a popular drug among students and young people who use it to focus, study and stay awake for all-nighters.

Adderall’s ingredients include amphetamines and dextroamphetamine. Adderall can remain active in the bloodstream for anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. With an extended release formulation, the drug can remain active for up to 12 hours. Adderall impacts the following neurotransmitters in the brain: dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin.

  • Dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that impacts motivation and feelings of reward when engaging with or completing a task. When there is too much dopamine in the system, it can cause increased aggression and lowered impulse control. When there is too little dopamine in the system, it can affect excitement levels and lower feelings of motivation.
  • Norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a chemical that is associated with fight-or-flight feelings. It impacts alertness and the ability to focus. An increase in this chemical can produce feelings of anxiety and stress.
  • Serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that creates feelings of pleasure in the brain. It also affects stress, fear, body temperature and sleep. High amounts of serotonin are also known as serotonin syndrome, and can produce feelings of agitation and irritability.

Signs of Adderall Addiction

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Eating less due to lack of appetite
  • Increased agitation and irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Using a higher dose of Adderall than prescribed
  • Mixing Adderall with other drugs or alcohol
Infograph showing the different phases of Adderall detox.

Adderall Effects on Personality

Can Adderall have noticeable effects on personality in those who use the drug? In some, Adderall can have effects on personality. Personality and character changes most often occur when the medication dose is too high or just incorrect for the individual.

  • Depression and development of suicidal thoughts and behaviors – The user may experience persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities once loved and feelings of worthlessness. Depression can decrease motivation and energy and impact a person’s ability to socially interact with others. The user can become socially withdrawn and develop a negative outlook on life.
  • Increased aggression, irritability and hostility – This is a common side effect of Adderall use and can lead to increased impatience and a decrease in tolerance. This person can experience angry outbursts, high levels of frustration, extreme responses to frustrating situations, nervousness and even acting out in self-harm.
  • Extreme mood swings – Mood swings can cause sudden and intense shifts in emotions ranging from euphoria to agitation. It can significantly impact a person’s relationship with others and lead to unpredictable behavior.
  • Heighten anxiety and social anxiety
  • Feeling jittery – In some users, Adderall can heighten a person’s confidence and sense of euphoria, which increases sociability and extroversion. This person may become more talkative, engaging and seeking out stimulating experiences.
  • The “zombie effect” – This happens when a dose is too high and can make a person less engaged and lack expression. Some people have found they do not react to humor the same way and they feel zoned out and numb. They often feel like there is a fog over their brain, where they cannot think clearly and develop the feeling of being drugged. They begin to feel zoned out, lifeless, flat and emotionless.
  • Loss of empathy towards others and situations
  • Development of mania, psychosis, delusions and hallucinations
  • Insomnia – Another common side effect of the drug can cause the development of stress and mood swings due to sleep deprivation. The lack of sleep affects mood stability and leads to heightened feelings of anxiety and restlessness.

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Ways to help you manage any personality changes with Adderall

  • Medication management – finding the correct dosage that is not too high or too low or changing the type of ADHD medication you are taking
  • Treatment for insomnia – getting more and regular sleep will help the body physically as well as mentally. Lack of sleep can cause brain fog.
  • Treatment for depression
  • Regular exercise and physical activity
  • Join a social support group
  • Practice mindfulness and meditation
  • Self-care
  • Nutrition and healthy eating – Adderall can cause a lack of appetite. A significant decrease in caloric uptake can impact cognitive functions. Eating better will help the body and brain heal when you are equipped with the necessary nutrients and vitamins.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Learn stress management skills
  • Learn how to label your emotions

Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea

We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

Prolonged use of Adderall can cause a wide variety of side effects that not only cause physical changes but psychological changes as well. Slight changes in personality that include irritability, lack of empathy and sudden changes in behavior can occur. The risk of developing new mental health conditions due to Adderall abuse is low but is more likely to occur if the user has a history of psychosis or other mental illnesses. Over time, there will be a decrease in the desired effects and an increase in the undesired negative effects of the drug on personality and character. Adderall abuse and addiction should be treated at a professional behavioral health treatment program.

Hotel California by the Sea provides treatment for substance abuse including Adderall addiction. We offer all levels of care including detox, inpatient residential, partial hospitalization program and intensive outpatient program. Throughout each level of care, clients will receive personalized treatment plans to meet their needs. We utilize rigorous and evidence based treatment methods that include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy and EMDR therapy. We also provide access to group sessions such as group therapy and family therapy. Hotel California by the Sea is dedicated to helping clients in all stages of addiction and recovery.