- Adderall is a prescription drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.
- Adderall can improve memory and focus in people with ADHD, but it has different effects when misused.
- There are several versions of Adderall pills and counterfeit Adderall pills on the market.
- Learning to identify different types of Adderall is important for drug safety.
- If you suspect a loved one of misusing Adderall, it’s crucial to be able to identify the drug and seek professional treatment right away.
Adderall is a prescription drug used in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It improves working memory and focus in ADHD and wakefulness in narcolepsy, making it crucial for people who struggle with these conditions and a drug that is at a high risk for abuse.
Prescription Adderall pills can come in various shapes and colors. The FDA receives over 100,000 reports of suspected medication errors each year. It’s important to know what Adderall looks like to ensure you’re taking the right medication, or in the case of suspected Adderall abuse in a loved one, recognize the signs.
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, two central nervous system stimulants that affect the chemicals in the brain and nerves and contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It’s also a Schedule II substance for its high potential for abuse.
When someone who doesn’t have ADHD takes Adderall or abuses it, the drug can produce a high. It can also suppress the appetite, so people may take it to lose weight. Students may abuse Adderall to maintain focus and pull all-night study sessions.
Types of Adderall
There are two types of Adderall: Extended-release and immediate-release. As the name suggests, immediate-release Adderall works faster and lasts around four to six hours. Many people will take a second dose when the first wears off.
Extended-release Adderall is taken once and lasts all day. It can take longer to kick in but will typically last up to 10 hours after it’s taken.
Adderall pills can vary widely depending on the type of drug and the dosage, as well as whether it’s a brand name or generic version.
Here’s what Adderall looks like in the immediate-release prescription:
- 5 mg immediate release that’s a white oval with “AD” printed on one side and “5” printed on the other.
- 7.5 mg immediate release that’s blue in an oval shape with “AD” printed on one side and “7.5” printed on the other.
- 10 mg immediate release is blue and round with “AD” printed on one side and “10” printed on the other.
- 12.5 mg immediate release is a round, peach-colored pill with “AD” printed on one side and “12.5” printed on the other.
- 15 mg Adderall is an oval-shaped orange pill with “AD” printed on one side and “15” printed on the other.
- 20 mg Adderall is round and orange with “AD” printed on one side and “30” printed on the other.
Adderall extended release looks different from the immediate release. It can come in a capsule form that’s blue, white, or orange. These pills include:
- 5 mg Adderall XR, a blue and clear capsule with “Adderall XR” printed on the opaque area and “5 mg” imprinted on the other side.
- 10 mg Adderall XR is a blue capsule with one transparent blue half and one opaque blue half with “Adderall XR” printed on the opaque part with “10 mg” printed on the other half of the capsule.
- 15 mg Adderall XR is a white and blue capsule with one transparent blue half and one opaque white half with “Adderall XR” printed on the opaque part while “15 mg” is printed on the other half of the capsule.
- 20 mg Adderall XR is an orange capsule with two opaque halves with “Adderall XR” printed on one-half part while “20 mg” is printed on the other half of the capsule.
- 25 mg Adderall XR is a white and orange capsule with two opaque halves with “Adderall XR” printed on the white part while “25 mg” is printed on the orange half of the capsule.
- 30 mg Adderall XR is an orange and clear capsule with one transparent clear half and one opaque orange half with “Adderall XR” printed on the opaque part while “30 mg” is printed on the other half of the capsule.
Generic versions of both medications will have similar sizes, shapes, and colors, but the manufacturer’s name will be printed instead of Adderall.
What Are the Risks of Taking the Wrong Adderall?
Like any medication, taking the wrong dose of Adderall can have adverse effects. Taking a lower dose than prescribed won’t have the necessary therapeutic effect. Conversely, taking too much can lead to serious side effects like heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, headaches, and anxiety.
There’s also a risk of taking “fake” Adderall. Generic medications are as effective as their brand-name counterparts, but an unknown pill that you can’t positively identify – especially one purchased illicitly – is extremely dangerous.
According to the DEA, stimulants like Adderall are often mixed with drugs like methamphetamine or fentanyl. These pills may look like the authentic Adderall or a generic equivalent, but they are far more dangerous.
Never take Adderall or a generic version that is not directly prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist who can verify that they are authentic and appropriately dosed.
How to Identify Fake Adderall
Identifying fake Adderall can be the difference between life and death. Getting Adderall with a prescription from a licensed pharmacist is an important step in protecting yourself, but there are other things to look for.
How the pills are packaged can be another red flag. Both the packaging of the medication you receive and the pill itself can be an indication of its authenticity. Misspellings, different text, or varied fonts on the packaging are clear signs of counterfeit medications. Imprints that are in a different position, discoloration, unusual shapes, and other small details that look “off” can also indicate a possible counterfeit.
Signs of Adderall Misuse
It’s important to know what Adderall looks like to ensure that you’re taking the right medication to treat your condition and avoid adverse effects, but properly identifying Adderall can also help you recognize the signs of Adderall abuse in a loved one.
Adderall is a strong drug that can potentially grow from recreational use to abuse to addiction. This often occurs in teens and young adults, but anyone can develop an Adderall misuse problem. The signs may include:
- Racing thoughts
- Grandiosity, invincibility, and intense wellbeing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Manipulating the format of Adderall, such as crushing the pill to snort it
- Fearing not having Adderall
- Visiting multiple healthcare providers to get more Adderall
- Spending an inordinate amount of time finding, using, or recovering from Adderall
Repeated abuse of Adderall leads to tolerance. This means that someone needs to take more and more of the drug to experience the same effects. If they abruptly stop or cut back, withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, depression, confusion, or sleep problems can emerge.
Treatment for Adderall Abuse
If you or a loved one is struggling with Adderall abuse or addiction, help is available. Medical detox can be helpful for managing the symptoms of Adderall withdrawal, which can be intense, and keeping you as comfortable as possible while the drug is eliminated from your system.
After medical detox, it’s best to enter a rehab program with an individual addiction treatment plan. Depending on your needs, inpatient or outpatient settings combined with individual therapy, group therapy, and behavioral therapies can address the way you think about Adderall use and establish healthier coping strategies moving forward.
Take the Next Step
Adderall abuse and addiction can be difficult to overcome, but the right treatment can help. For over 20 years, Ocean Recovery has been helping people achieve long-term recovery from substance abuse and addiction. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Adderall
The use of Adderall without ADHD or narcolepsy may result in increased dopamine levels and could lead to feelings of euphoria and increased energy, which are effects associated with its stimulant properties. However, these are not guaranteed effects for all individuals and can be accompanied by serious adverse reactions.
Adderall is an FDA-approved medication for ADHD and narcolepsy. It isn’t typically used to treat anxiety, and when it’s used alone, it can worsen the symptoms of anxiety. The side effects can be similar to anxiety as well, including nervousness, irritability, and restlessness.
Counterfeit Adderall pills are an extremely dangerous and common risk with Adderall misuse. Fentanyl-laced drugs have reached emergency levels, according to the DEA, and over 58.4 million laced counterfeit pills were seized in 2022. In 2023, the fentanyl seizures represent over 287 million deadly doses. The only safe medications are ones prescribed by a trusted medical professional and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.
 Adderall: Uses, dosage, Side Effects & Safety Info. Drugs.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/adderall.html on 2023, September 14.
 Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. (n.d.). Working to reduce medication errors. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/drugs/information-consumers-and-patients-drugs/working-reduce-medication-errors on 2023, September 14.
 Counterfeit pills – dea.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2021-05/Counterfeit%20Pills%20fact%20SHEET-5-13-21-FINAL.pdf on 2023, September 14.
 United States Drug Enforcement Administration. One Pill Can Kill | DEA.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/onepill on 2023, September 14.