This Is What It Feels Like To Take Adderall When You Don’t Have ADHD


For many people in their 20s and 30s, Adderall and study drugs are no big deal.

You definitely knew kids with ADD or ADHD who took Adderall in primary school. You probably know someone who sells it to make some extra cash, or perhaps you've put it in your drink so you don't feel drunk and can party all night. Maybe you just take it when you're cramming for finals.

Elite Daily's “ADD For ALL” project draws together a range of personal stories, professional perspectives and original survey data to investigate our generation's experience of Adderall and study drugs, and what we really think about them.

In college, a lot of my classmates and friends took Adderall like it was a daily vitamin.

And many of them took it even though they weren’t diagnosed with ADHD.

They’d joke about how angry they felt when they were coming down from an Adderall high, or about the paranoia they experienced when they were on it.

These side effects didn’t stop my friends from continuing to take it. But for me, just hearing about their experiences on it kept me far away from ever trying the drug.

Sophomore year of college, I was working on a group marketing project (ironically an anti-Adderall campaign), and one of the members started casually talking about his experience taking it.

The "study drug"

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He said the same thing I had already heard from countless friends and fellow classmates: He didn’t need it, but it just made things easier for him.

When I asked him the last time he hadn’t taken it to study, he said he couldn’t recall a time in the last year.

All throughout college, it struck me as eerie that so many believed they didn’t need to take it, but seemed to rely heavily on it academically.

It sounds almost melodramatic to say this, but they seemed powerless over the drug. It was like they were battling an addiction.

The side effects

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Recently, we conducted a survey about Adderall use among men and women aged 18 to 34. The findings were interesting and semi-disturbing to me.

We found that 74 percent of the survey respondents had taken Adderall or some form of “study drug,” and that 63 percent had never been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD.

Of those who have taken Adderall, both on and off prescription, only 3 percent of them had zero negative side effects, while 81 percent (more than four in every five) experienced two or more negative side effects.

Some of the respondents shared frightening side effect stories.

Several of them found it difficult to manage their anger, some hallucinated and one even had a “mini-heart attack.”

Adderall: Overprescribed, Underestimated

Outside of our own survey, the drug has been said to have long-term, intense side effects.

Yet, the abuse of Adderall is still high, especially among college students.

To learn about the side effects you can experience if you take Adderall and don’t have ADD or ADHD, watch the video above.

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Rebecca Hovel

Video Producer

Rebecca earned her degree in Film and TV from UW Madison and has since worked in television production and development.
Rebecca earned her degree in Film and TV from UW Madison and has since worked in television production and development.