If you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you may get relief from the prescription drug Adderall. It can improve focus, decrease restlessness, and help control impulsive behavior (including the hard-to-stop habit of interrupting people). But, like other medications, it comes with possible side effects.
Whether Adderall side effects are annoying or alarming to you, be sure you tell your doctor, who can help you find ways to feel better while the medication does its job.
The generic type costs less, but that’s about the only difference you’ll notice. Generic dextroamphetamine/amphetamine has the same risk of side effects as brand-name Adderall. It provides the same benefits, too.
Common Side Effects
Many common side effects will get better or go away as your body gets used to the medicine. They might include:
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss
- Less interest in sex
- Unusual sense of well-being
- Difficulty keeping an erection
If you have any of these side effects, ask your doctor how long they are likely to last, as well as what to do if they don’t get better.
Rare Side Effects
Rarely, Adderall causes more serious side effects. Tell your doctor at once if you have any of these:
Adderall and Your Heart
To be on the safe side, doctors usually don’t prescribe Adderall to people with:
- Serious heart problems
- High blood pressure that is not controlled with medicine
Even without a perfect heart, you may still be able to take Adderall for ADHD. Expect to see a heart doctor (cardiologist) first. You'll need to get your heart rate and blood pressure checked at follow-up doctor visits.
Tips to Manage Side Effects
You can take steps to reduce some side effects of Adderall. Ask your doctor what might work for you. Some things you can try:
Have good sleep habits. Many people with ADHD have insomnia, or trouble sleeping. Stimulant medicines like Adderall can add to the problem. To get better sleep, limit caffeine and screen time (phone, TV, or video games) close to bedtime.
Don’t take Adderall after 5 p.m. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember -- up to a point. The later you take this drug, the more likely it is to keep you awake at night. Try not to take any Adderall after 5 p.m. If you use an extended-release (XR) version, try not to take it after 2 p.m.
Limit or avoid alcohol. Alcohol affects the way your body processes Adderall. That could result in unusual side effects, including sleepiness.
Ask your doctor if you should switch antidepressants. A few antidepressants can increase Adderall’s side effects. These drugs include:
Reduce dry mouth. You can’t stop Adderall from causing dry mouth, but you can take steps to put moisture back in.
- Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free candies, which get saliva flowing.
- Avoid mouthwash that contains alcohol.
- Sip water throughout the day.
- Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes. (Your pharmacist can point you in the right direction.)
- Try a “dry mouth” mouthwash.
- Avoid antihistamines, which can contribute to dry mouth.
- Put a humidifier in your bedroom.