Who Can Prescribe Adderall?

Who Can Prescribe Adderall?
Who Can Prescribe Adderall? (Image: Chris Bernard: istock.com)

Adderall is an amphetamine approved by the FDA for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. It is classified as a schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency due to its abuse and dependence potential. Adderall is typically prescribed by psychiatrists and pediatricians, while general practitioners may prescribe the medication for certain off-label uses.


Adderall is an amphetamine that stimulates the central nervous system by increasing alertness and concentration. Also known as dextroamphetamine saccharate, amphetamine aspartate, dextroamphetamine sulfate and amphetamine sulfate, due to its abuse and dependence potential, it is classified as a schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Agency.


Adderall is approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder characterized by sudden bouts of deep sleep. Pediatricians, child development specialists and child psychiatrists are the top prescribers of Adderall. In addition, primary care physicians or family practitioners and psychiatrists may also prescribe this medication for narcolepsy and adult ADHD.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of Adderall are decreased appetite, weight loss, mood swings, dry mouth, headache and stomach ache. Adderall may also exacerbate symptoms associated such as motor and phonic tics in patients with Tourette's syndrome or tics.

Off-label and Non-medical Usage

Off-label use of any drug refers to taking the drug for indications that are not approved by the FDA, while non-medical use is defined as the use of the drug without a prescription. Weight loss and depression are two off-label uses of Adderall for which health care providers write prescriptions.

While weight loss and decreased appetite are problematic for individuals who are not seeking to lose weight, these side effects are attractive for those looking to become slimmer. Typically, family physicians and primary care doctors prescribe Adderall for weight loss.

Because Adderall causes hyper-alertness and is believed to speed up an individual's thought process for longer durations, it has become a popular "study drug" on college campuses. According to the April 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, full-time college students ages 18 to 22 were twice as likely as their counterparts who were not in school to have used Adderall non-medically in the past year.

The majority of these college students take Adderall for non-medical use or without a prescription. And users of off-label Adderall were found to be more likely to engage in other risky behavior such as cocaine abuse, cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse and drunk driving.


Adderall may also cause a life-threatening spike in blood pressure when used in combination with certain antidepressants and by individuals with hypertension, according to the drugmaker, Shire Pharmaceuticals Inc. Misuse of Adderall can also cause sudden death and serious cardiac events. Individuals with underlying heart problems have a greater risk of suffering from these adverse events.

After reports of a dozen children with heart abnormalities who died using Adderall XR, the extended-release formulation of the medication, the drug was temporarily withdrawn from the Canadian market in 2005.

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