Drugs Q & A

Can You Snort Adderall?

Adderall is a brand name for the combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It’s a prescription drug used primarily to treat ADHD or narcolepsy (daytime sleepiness). The medication alters certain naturally-occurring chemicals in your brain by enhancing the effects of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine.

For ADHD, Adderall is designed to improve hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and attention span. According to the Cleveland Clinic, stimulants like Adderall improve symptoms of ADHD in 70 to 80 percent of children, and in 70 percent of adults. The positive effects can be even greater when it’s used along with behavioral therapy.

It’s important to remember that even though many people may take Adderall without a prescription — a study of 175 college students found that only two percent thought Adderall was “very dangerous” — it’s still a powerful stimulant. Stimulants can be addictive, and it’s possible to become dependent on them if your dosage isn’t monitored by a medical professional.

What happens if you snort Adderall?

Snorting Adderall requires the substance to be absorbed through the nasal membrane and into the surrounding blood vessels. Those blood vessels then carry the drug to the heart, where it can be carried throughout the entire body, including all major organs as well as the brain. The drug must then pass through the blood-brain barrier—a highly selective and protective lining of endothelial cells that separates the blood from the brain—before it can interact with receptors in the brain and elicit its effects.

Since snorting drugs allows them to enter the bloodstream fairly quickly, they can affect the brain in a relatively short amount of time. This can increase the abuse potential of a drug because the “high” produced by the substance occurs almost immediately after the drug is administered.

Snorting Adderall introduces the powdered substance into the nasal passages, which can negatively impact the respiratory system. Long-term intranasal drug use can lead to chronic nosebleeds and runny nose, as well as a loss of the sense of smell, according to NIDA. Some of these consequences may be reversible once the drug use is stopped, but over time, repeated intranasal drug use can lead to perforation of the nasal septum, which can result in breathing difficulties. Full recovery from the physical effects of snorting drugs may not always be possible.

Health Risks of Snorting Adderall

There are specific risks associated with snorting amphetamine drugs. Users who snort the drug tend to take more Adderall than those who take the drug in oral form, which means that they may develop a tolerance or dependence more quickly. Inhaling the drug through your nostrils can damage the membrane that lines your respiratory tract, making you more vulnerable to illness and airborne infections. Extended abuse of this amphetamine may even damage the internal structures of your nose and sinuses.

Because Adderall acts much more quickly when it’s snorted, you’ll experience the impact of its effects almost immediately. Adderall XR, a drug that’s intended to last all day when you take it in prescribed doses, is even more potent than Adderall and can cause more severe side effects, such as high fever, toxic shock, and sudden death.

Psychosis is one of the potential side effects of Adderall abuse. During a psychotic episode, you might see or hear things that aren’t real or have severe misconceptions about reality. You might become extremely agitated or violent, even to people you care about. When amphetamines enter your blood too quickly, you’re more likely to experience unpleasant, disturbing, or frightening misperceptions.

Although Adderall can initially make you feel smarter, sharper, and more productive, you may experience a physical and emotional crash when the drug wears off. The Georgetown Independent warns that the intensity of the high you experience when you snort Adderall could be followed by an equally intense episode of exhaustion and depression. If you’ve been running on Adderall for days, the effects of sleeplessness and excessive activity will eventually catch up with you, harming your health and making it even harder to concentrate on work or school.

It may take a while to realize that snorting Adderall is endangering your life, especially if you’re taking the drug with a prescription, or your family supports your use of the medication. You might not even know that you have a problem until you become aware that you’ve been snorting larger doses of the amphetamine than you did in the past. A lot of young students are unaware of the risks of Adderall and believe that because it’s manufactured in legal laboratories and prescribed by doctors, snorting it must be safer than snorting cocaine or meth.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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