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Adderall Side Effects in Women

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Women and men share many side effects when it comes to Adderall use. However, some Adderall side effects in women are essential to know, especially when considering using the medication. Stimulants like Adderall can have short or long-term consequences on the body and brain structure. Women who abuse stimulants are in danger of several repercussions and should seek proper treatment immediately. 

Since Adderall functions by increasing neurotransmitters in the brain, users can experience a variety of side effects. This aspect of the substance may lead some to mood disturbances and panic attacks. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers the medication to be highly addictive and even classifies it as a Schedule II controlled substance. 

What is Adderall?

Adderall, a brand name for amphetamine-dextroamphetamine, is the most commonly prescribed drug to treat symptoms of ADHD. It’s also been used by people as weight-loss drugs and study aids. In 2013 there were 1.4 million nonmedical users who abused prescription stimulants before their national survey.

Adderall is becoming increasingly popular on college campuses as students are drawn to the idea of using it for an extended period. The more that people use Adderall, the higher its risk will be in terms of diversion and nonmedical usage. Some might abuse this medication by thinking they’ll get better grades through increased concentration with prolonged study sessions. Others may take a less healthy route like snorting or injecting it, leading to addiction problems down the line if not addressed early enough.

Does Adderall Affect Women Differently?

Adderall Side Effects in WomenThe Food and Drug Administration’s information on Adderall notes that the dose administered to a woman can vary depending upon her body weight. When doses were not based on body mass, the FDA found a 20-30% increase of processed amphetamine in women. When adjusted for weight, this difference vanished across genders. However, the two other amphetamines present in Adderall are unaffected regardless of age or gender.

Estrogen plays a significant role in determining the efficacy of Adderall when it is taken by women. The effects may be more significant during periods where estrogen levels are elevated, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, or around ovulation. Women have reported feeling high after taking Adderall during these times. This may also trigger addictive behaviors like drug cravings as well as physical dependency on drugs like amphetamines. It is not uncommon for this to occur with prescription medications that produce synthetic forms of substances found naturally occurring within our bodies.

Adderall Side Effects in Women

There are unique side effects that are more common in women. This is mainly due to the different ways women process the substance. That being said, women may experience more serious side effects, including:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Increased anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping and trouble staying asleep
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Decreased libido

Adderall and Pregnancy

Pregnant women should avoid taking Adderall during pregnancy. While research is limited, studies in pregnant animals indicate that taking any type of amphetamines during pregnancy is unsafe. Illicit amphetamines such as methamphetamine can lead to premature birth, physical harm to fetuses and infants, withdrawal symptoms after birth, and low birth weight. These substances can all lead to an increased chance of infant mortality. 

For some women, Adderall has been found to be a successful treatment for the negative symptoms that often come with menopause. It is common for women to be prescribed hormone replacement medications during menopause. Some women may not be able to take certain supplements due to health conditions. Also, some women simply do not receive the benefit from these medications. 

In a small study, Adderall proved to help treat attention, memory, and concentration issues associated with hormonal imbalances. It is worth noting that Adderall is not approved for this type of off-label use, though. 

Abusing Adderall for Weight Loss

Since Adderall suppresses the appetite, some men and women begin to abuse the medication to take advantage of the weight loss side effect. Adderall side effects in women, in terms of nonmedical doses, can cause various side effects, including:

  • Mood swings
  • Increased heart rate 
  • High blood pressure

Losing weight quickly can be dangerous. For example, a woman who regularly takes Adderall may work out more intensely as a result of her increased energy from the stimulant. More intense workouts, combined with eating less, can cause dramatic weight loss. Rapid weight loss can lead to liver damage, cardiovascular damage, and slow metabolism.

Serious Side Effects of Adderall 

Stimulants raise heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. Stimulants such as Adderall also keep users stimulated and awake while suppressing appetites. Even with regular use of the medication, it can change brain structure, affecting the way emotions are regulated. These types of medications can also cause harm to the vascular system, heart muscles, lungs, and other internal organs. 

Can Adderall Cause High Blood Pressure?

Adderall is a stimulant with many effects. Before prescribing the drug, doctors will make sure that patients do not have heart abnormalities or other serious cardiac issues. Adderall may increase blood pressure and heart rate by an average of two to four millimeters of mercury and three to six beats per minute, respectively. However, some people can see more significant increases in their values for these markers when taking this medication. 

Those who already suffer from high blood pressure or fast hearts should exercise caution if considering using this prescription to treat ADHD symptoms because it might worsen pre-existing conditions instead of treating them like intended.

Can Adderall Cause Shortness of Breath?

Serious Side Effects of AdderallAdderall can cause shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, and fainting. These are all serious side effects that may result in health consequences or even death. It is imperative to contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Can Adderall Cause a Heart Attack?

Even a one-time use of Adderall can cause a cardiac arrest, which is different from a heart attack. Cardiac arrest often has little to no warning. It is essentially a condition where the victim’s heartbeat stops unexpectedly. Nonmedical use of Adderall dramatically increases the chances of a dangerous outcome. When not used as directed, Adderall may introduce side effects such as:

  • Stroke 
  • Hypertension
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Psychosis
  • Chest pain 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart attack 
  • Muscle weakness
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Blurred vision
  • Sexual dysfunction 

What Are the Signs of Adderall Abuse?

In some cases, it can be difficult to tell if someone is abusing Adderall. Most people tend to abuse Adderall for its potent stimulant effect. People who abuse the drug are often characteristically different from other drug users. Common users are young professionals and students. This subgroup typically uses Adderall to enhance their productivity and alertness. 

Signs someone is abusing Adderall may include:

  • Aggression
  • Secretive behavior 
  • Uncharacteristic excitability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Oversleeping
  • Memory issues
  • Excessive weight loss
  • A decline in cognitive ability
  • Relationship issues
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Financial issues
  • Overconcentration or overworking
  • Mania
  • Disorientation
  • Taking pills frequently
  • Finishing prescriptions early
  • Overly talkative 
  • Incomplete thoughts 

Women’s Treatment for Adderall Abuse

effects of adderall on womenNew Directions for Women provides treatment to women in varying levels of care, from detox and residential facilities to outpatient programs. Each program includes group therapy sessions as well as individualized attention toward each patient’s needs. 


Detox programs ensure each person beginning treatment has an entirely sober body and mind. Withdrawing from certain medications, including Adderall, can be dangerous cold turkey. Our detox programs help each client safely and comfortably withdraw from each substance. At New Directions, we make sure medical professionals are present during detox. 

Medical professionals can even prescribe certain medications that can help stop drug cravings and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. This is important so that the patient can focus completely on her recovery.   

Residential Treatment

A residential treatment facility, or inpatient drug rehab, allows individuals the chance to experience their full spectrum of health while under medical supervision. We tailor every individual’s exclusive plan to meet her specific needs and take into account what she values most; with soberness comes growth and learning capacity. 

Our residential program consists of a multi-phased format. The format starts following detox, then we help the client transition while incorporating proven therapeutic practices, and finally, we offer extended care.  

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

New Directions for Women’s intensive outpatient program (IOP) offers comprehensive recovery skills and addiction counseling to women. Our model accommodates people in various stages of early recovery, with the goal being complete abstinence from drugs or alcohol. 

Intensive outpatient programs can be done on a full or partial-day basis and are tailored to fit the needs of women who live in stable environments such as sober living homes or with supportive loved ones nearby. Our staff is experienced in catering to this population and will work hard to tailor your program accordingly.

New Directions for Women Can Help

Battling addiction to any substance is highly difficult. Addiction is best combated with a strong support system. At New Directions, we wish to offer you just that. Our programs cater to women in various circumstances. If you are worried about Adderall abuse in a loved one/yourself or have any questions, please contact us today. 

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