Adderall Tolerance: Can You Reduce It?

Adderall is a stimulant medication prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sometimes used to treat daytime sleepiness associated with narcolepsy. The drug combines dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, which helps those with ADHD stay focused on tasks and control their movements or attention.

Whether one takes Adderall as prescribed or misuses the drug for nonmedical reasons, it is possible to develop an Adderall tolerance. Treating tolerance to a prescription medication will differ, depending on whether the drug is medically necessary or being misused for illicit reasons.

This page will explain how an Adderall tolerance develops, the effects and risks of Adderall misuse, and how to get treatment for Adderall addiction.

How Does an Adderall Tolerance Build Up?

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines tolerance to a drug as a biological process in which one’s body gets used to the presence of a drug and does not respond to it in the same way. Over time, any drug’s effects will diminish with frequent, consistent dosing, whether this is through prescription use or because of misuse.

As the original effects fade, the person may be tempted to take more of the substance to achieve the prior effects. This is especially risky among those who misuse potent drugs, including Adderall or other prescription stimulants, because they do not have medical oversight. They may overdose, or they may develop a tolerance to Adderall as they take more and more of it.

People who take Adderall because it has been prescribed should seek advice from their physician. Since Adderall is a strong drug, prescribing physicians aim for the minimum effective dose. This dose is not dependent on age, body weight, or gender, and it can change over time, including as the person develops an Adderall tolerance.

Adderall Tolerance vs Addiction

Adderall tolerance is a normal part of taking this drug for several years to manage a lifelong condition like ADHD. It is not a sign of addiction in those who have a legitimate use for the substance, and doctors understand this.

Addiction is defined as the continued compulsive use of a substance despite negative consequences.

Warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the drug’s labels clearly state that doctors should re-evaluate their patients’ dose of Adderall over time to ensure they receive the best therapeutic benefit.

However, people who misuse Adderall to get high or to enhance their performance, and who do not have ADHD or narcolepsy, put themselves at risk, not just for becoming tolerant to or dependent on Adderall, but also for experiencing an overdose, addiction, or chronic health problems from misusing it for a long time.

How Long Does Adderall Last?

Each dose of Adderall Immediate Release (IR) lasts between 4 and 6 hours, and many people may move to taking the drug twice per day, or they may increase their dose after several years because the original dose does not manage the symptoms of ADHD. It should be noted, however, that Adderall IR has largely been discontinued.

Adderall XR (Extended Release) lasts 12 hours, allowing it to be taken once daily.

If one has developed an Adderall tolerance at a high dose, their doctor may recommend detoxing and switching to a different stimulant medication. This is because the individual’s body may not respond to any combination of amphetamine, and they may need different stimulants like those that make up Ritalin or Concerta.

Effects & Risks of Misusing Adderall

People who misuse Adderall may experience the following adverse effects:

  • Stomach upset, nausea, or vomiting
  • Weight loss from decreased appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nervousness

How to Reduce Adderall Tolerance

It is important to work with a physician or other medical professional if a tolerance to Adderall develops.

For those who have a prescription for Adderall, speak with the prescribing physician who can provide guidance. Always follow the prescribing physician’s instructions regarding any prescription drug, including Adderall, and let them know if the substance is no longer effective at its current dose.

For others who may be misusing Adderall and taking it without a prescription, a physician or an addiction treatment professional can help determine what the appropriate next steps should be.

Treatment for Adderall Misuse in Mississippi

If you or someone you love is struggling with Adderall misuse, treatment is available. While withdrawal from stimulants like Adderall is not often dangerous, support during detox can help a person remain comfortable and safe.

Beyond detox, evidence-based behavioral therapies, such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy, have been found to be effective in treating stimulant use disorders.

Oxford Treatment Center is an American Addiction Centers treatment facility that provides outpatient and inpatient drug and alcohol rehab in Mississippi. At Oxford, we customize each person’s treatment plan and employ proven treatment methods.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

The Price of Not Getting Help
When contemplating the costs of addiction treatment for yourself, child, or loved one, consider the costs, or consequences, of “things as they are now.” What would happen if the substance abuse or addiction continued? Rehab doesn't have to be expensive. We accept a variety of insurances. Learn more below.