What is Adderall and How Much Does it Cost?

Published September 28th, 2020 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Chris Riley

An estimated 6.1 million American children suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, which is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders in the United States. About three quarters of people diagnosed with ADHD manage their condition through the use of either medical or behavioral treatment or a combination of the two. While ADHD is commonly thought of as a childhood disorder, it is very common for children diagnosed with ADHD to carry the condition with them into adulthood; similarly, some people are diagnosed with ADHD for the first time as adults.  Prescription medications like Adderall can help patients manage their symptoms, but the medication can be expensive when purchased in the brand name form of the drug. So, how much does Adderall cost?

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medication that is made up of two primary active ingredients: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Both of the active ingredients of Adderall are considered central nervous system stimulants.  A little history of drug: the medication was first released as an instant-release tablet in 1996, but patients requested a longer-acting version of the drug. Adderall XR was introduced in 2001 as an extended-release version of the medication. Adderall has high potential for substance abuse and addiction, especially with long-term use, so it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). 

What Is Adderall Used to Treat?

Adderall and its active ingredients amphetamine and dextroamphetamine are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ADHD in children and adults and narcolepsy in adults. The primary use of Adderall is for the treatment of ADHD in children; the developmental disorder is estimated to impact approximately 10 percent of children in the United States. Adderall is similar in nature to other drugs that treat ADHD, including Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Concerta

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Attention Hyperactivity Disorder

Most people are diagnosed with ADHD in childhood. Common signs and symptoms of the developmental disorder include: 

  • Daydreaming
  • Hyperactivity
  • Squirming or fidgeting
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Difficulty resisting temptation
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Difficult controlling impulsive behaviors
  • Talking excessively
  • Difficulty getting along with others
  • Forgetting or losing things regularly

There are three different kinds of ADHD. The three presentations of ADHD include predominantly hyperactive-impulsive presentation, which is what we typically think of when we consider the symptoms of ADHD, predominantly inattentive, which was previously referred to as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and combined presentation. Patients often change their presentation and symptoms over time or as they move into adulthood. 

Narcolepsy

People with narcolepsy often experience symptoms that include sleep paralysis, changes in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, sudden loss of muscle tone, and hallucinations. Although narcolepsy is often depicted in pop culture as suddenly falling asleep while standing up or nodding off in social situations, this actually occurs very rarely. Although there is no cure for this chronic sleep disorder, some medications, like Adderall, can help manage the symptoms. 

How Does Adderall Work?

Adderall impacts the availability of norepinephrine and dopamine in your central nervous system, causing levels to increase. The speed at which dopamine is reabsorbed by the brain is reduced by Adderall, which causes dopamine levels to rise. As a result, the brain activity speeds up, which helps patients focus for longer periods of time, concentrate more easily, and ignore irrelevant outside stimuli.

How Much Does Adderall Cost?

Adderall was extremely expensive prior to the release of the generic form of the medication, but prices have dropped significantly.  When purchasing the generic extended-release version of the drug, patients can expect to pay less than ten dollars for their prescription. By contrast, purchasing the name brand form of Adderall XR will cost approximately 230 dollars. The prices for the instant-release versions of the generic and brand name forms of the medication are also less than ten dollars and approximately 230 dollars, respectively. Most insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare, cover the generic version of the medication. However, it’s possible to save money on Adderall with pharmacy discount card programs like USA Rx regardless of your insured status.

What Risks Are Associated With Adderall Use?

Although there are many benefits associated with Adderall, as listed above, taking the medication also poses some risks. Risks associated with Adderall include:

  • Adults who are over the age of 60 are more likely to experience chest pain, trouble sleeping, or weight loss. 
  • Pregnant women should use caution when taking Adderall. The medication should only be taken when the benefits exceed the risks; it is common for infants who are born to mothers taking Adderall to be born prematurely, at a low birth weight, or with withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Some preexisting conditions, such as heart disease/heart problems/heart attack, high blood pressure, vascular disease, glaucoma, and hyperthyroidism prevent people from using Adderall safely. Make sure you speak with your doctor prior to using Adderall. 
  • Children are more likely to experience side effects of Adderall like weight loss and possible stunting of a child's growth
  • Women who are nursing should not take Adderall.
  • Taking Adderall can cause psychosis to worsen or can cause new psychosis, so patients who have a history of depression, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, or other mental health issues or mental illness should exercise caution.
  • Adderall can cause blood circulation issues that cause numbness, pain, or discoloration in your extremities.
  • Adderall can make the tics associated with Tourette's Syndrome more frequent

What Side Effects Are Associated With Adderall?

Numerous side effects are associated with Adderall, some of which require the attention of a health care professional. Common serious side effects that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Bladder pain
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Difficult, burning, or painful urination

Less common side effects that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Vomiting
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Hoarseness
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Shivering
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Allergic reactions

Most side effects associated with Adderall diminish as patients become accustomed to medication and do not require medical attention. If  you experience these side effects and your symptoms continue or worsen, make sure to contact your doctor for medical advice, or seek medical attention immediately. Side effects that normally do not require medical attention include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Stomach pain
  • Anxiety
  • Lack or loss of strength
  • Weight loss

Do Any Other Drugs Interact With Adderall?

Several other types of drugs interact with stimulants like Adderall, so make sure you inform your doctor and pharmacist about all prescription drugs, over the counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbs that you are taking. Drugs that are known to interact with Adderall include:

  • Lisdexamfetamine, which works in a similar manner to Adderall
  • Medications that raise your heart rate or increase your blood pressure, such as cough and cold medications or diet pills
  • Antidepressants, including SSRIs and SNRIs, which can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome or toxicity
  • MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitors, which can cause a serious and possibly fatal drug interactions

Does Adderall Come With Any Warnings for Use?

Due to its highly addictive nature and potential for drug abuse, Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug  Enforcement Agency (DEA). As levels of dopamine and norepinephrine  increase in the central nervous system in response to the medication, patients may experience effects on their ability to concentrate and ignore outside stimuli. Although many people ADHD may depend on prescription stimulant medications like Adderall to improve their concentration and focus, many people who do not have a diagnosis of ADHD depend on Adderall while studying for a test (especially college students) or during a stressful time at work. When Adderall is taken over a long period of time on a regular basis or taken without a prescription or medical need, it is possible to develop a physical or psychological addiction to the drug. Common signs of an Adderall addiction include:

  • Feeling unable to cut back on substance use
  • Not being able to work without taking Adderall
  • Not feeling alert without Adderall
  • Expending significant time and money to obtain and use Adderall
  • Needing larger doses to achieve the desired effect

Damage to the heart and cardiovascular system can occur as a result of Adderall abuse. Long term Adderall abuse can result in the following: 

  • Headaches
  • Trouble breathing/shortness of breath
  • Hyperactivity
  • Heart disease
  • Abdominal pain
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling jittery or on edge
  • Dizziness
  • Weight loss
  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremors
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth

Is It Possible to Overdose on Adderall?

Unfortunately, it is possible to overdose on Adderall, and overdosing on the drug can be potentially fatal. Overdose is most likely to occur among individuals who become dependent on the drug, as they often take more and more of the medication to produce the same calming effect. Over time, this behavior can cause an overdose and sudden death, which is one of many reasons that Adderall should be taken only as prescribed. Adderall should not be taken without a prescription. Signs of an Adderall overdose include: 

  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Fever
  • Fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Fast breathing

References:

https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adderall-withdrawal 

https://americanaddictioncenters.org/adderall/long-term-effects 

https://www.addictioncenter.com/stimulants/adderall/ 

https://www.drugs.com/adderall.html 

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-long-does-adderall-stay-in-your-system 

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