Adderall for Studying: Is it Worth it?

Benjamin Martin - 5 August 2020

Adderall side effects

The use of Adderall as a nootropic or study drug has increased dramatically in the UK and around the world in recent years, especially among students. More students now take drugs to help them study than they do recreationally.

But, is Adderall effective? Are there better alternatives out there? Find all this out, plus more, in this handy article written by our team of nootropic experts.


  • Adderall background
  • Why has Adderall use grown?
  • Adderall's effects as a study drug: what does it feel like?
  • Adderall’s side effects
  • Alternatives to Adderall as a smart drug
  • Conclusion

Adderall background

Adderall, also known as Adderall XR, was first used medically in the 1990s as a treatment for ADHD. Its use has exploded in recent years, with around 4.8 million people being prescribed Adderall in the US in 2013.

Adderall is primarily used to help with concentration or fatigue. Adderall can be very beneficial for people with legitimate medical disorders - in particular, people with ADHD who are having trouble concentrating in school.

Adderall helping people struggling with their education may be the origin of the idea to use it as a ‘smart drug’.

It can help people with ADHD concentrate, so there might have been a perception that it can help those without ADHD in a similar way.

Also, as Adderall is comprised of amphetamines, it is a powerful stimulant. This means it can be used to keep people awake to work overtime when necessary, similar to how amphetamines have been used historically.

Adderall becomes more popular around exam times when students begin to cram study into the night and feel they need to stay awake for longer.

Why has the use of Adderall grown?

The growth of Adderall's use for studying in recent years has several contributing factors.

As mentioned earlier, there are millions of Adderall users in America, with many others around the world.

The growth of legitimate Adderall use means it’s more commonplace, so others may hear of the benefits it provides to those suffering from disorders like ADHD or narcolepsy.

As a result, more students may want to use Adderall themselves, even if they do not have an issue necessitating it, as they can see the benefits it provides for their friends or family.

Students today also feel more pressure in their academic lives. Recent rises in British tuition fees and expensive higher education in other places means there is more of a demand to succeed on many students.

Similarly, employment is becoming more competitive, requiring better academic results. Consequently, students may feel that taking smart drugs like Adderall for studying is mandatory to be successful.

Students' mental health is another contributing factor. According to the Institute for Public Policy Research, more students than ever suffer from mental health issues at university, which can hamper their studying.

As a result, some might feel they need to use Adderall for studying if they have fallen behind because of mental health issues, or they feel unable to cope with their studies.

Additionally, students may use Adderall for studying if they are finding it difficult to manage university life.

Students often feel the need to take up sports, stay in shape, socialise, enter into and maintain relationships, find work experience, and balance all of this alongside studying in a strange new environment.

Some people, understandably, can struggle under this kind of pressure and feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up. This may lead them to use Adderall as a way to cope with stress.

And, the increase in Adderall for studying might be symptomatic of our adoption of new technology and other changes in our lifestyle.

Being surrounded by phones, televisions and computers mean it’s now very easy to become distracted and procrastinate. This might lead to students falling behind in their studies and using Adderall for studying to make up.

Adderall for studying: what does it feel like?

It is very common for those who have taken Adderall to feel energetic and able to focus much better than usual.

Some users may experience an Adderall high - this is a euphoric feeling that some people experience when taking a high dosage of Adderall.

The combination of these three things (energy, focus, euphoria) are the three main reasons why such a high volume of people abuse Adderall.

Having more energy means you can stay up for longer doing work, being more focused means that you are more productive and can get more things done in that time and the euphoria makes you feel excited, making it easier to do tasks you usually find boring.

Adderall’s side effects

While using Adderall for studying is increasingly popular, it’s important to bear in mind the side effects it can cause.

Most scientific papers on Adderall’s side effects are on people with ADHD or narcolepsy who have been prescribed it by a doctor. This means there isn’t much scientific literature on Adderall used as a smart drug by people who do not have a prescription for it.

Consequently, the results shown in studies may differ from those experienced by a smart drug user.

That being said, research indicates that Adderall’s side effects commonly include decreased appetite, nervousness and stomach aches. Furthermore, Adderall can cause diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting along with other potential issues.

Adderall is also associated with insomnia, emotional lability, nervousness and fever in some instances. Most of these are described as time-limited, meaning they disappear soon after discontinuing use of Adderall.

More severely, Adderall can cause or exacerbate psychiatric problems and can cause heart issues that could be very severe. Adderall most commonly causes hypertension or tachycardia.

Studies indicate that side effects from chronic use of Adderall may include psychosis, seizures and cardiovascular events, though again, psychological problems are rare.

Regardless, if you suffer from psychiatric or cardiovascular problems, speak with a doctor before using Adderall either prescribed or off-label.

It's important to note that Adderall is not legal in the UK. It is a Class B controlled substance, so it is illegal to possess without a prescription. Adderall possession can be punished by five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

Moreover, it's illegal to supply to people illicitly, which can be punished by 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

This means it is risky to own, and that it is frequently supplied by shady sources who might sell adulterated or impure products. Also, the use of un-prescribed drugs might be tested by some employers, sporting organisations, or academic institutions.

And, as Adderall is comprised of amphetamines, it can cause dependence or addiction if it is used regularly. Most studies indicate that dependence is not frequent - but, as mentioned, most studies are undertaken on people who have been prescribed Adderall.

Those who do not have a psychiatric disorder or those who do not have a deficiency in the neurotransmitters Adderall increases may run a greater risk of addiction.

Alternatives to Adderall as a smart drug

If you want to take a smart drug but would also like to avoid the side effects of Adderall, you should consider a natural nootropic like Brainzyme.

Natural nootropics are fast growing in popularity among both experienced nootropic and new users. Why? Because they can deliver similar results but by using natural, herbal or protein-based ingredients.

Brainzyme, for example, uses tyrosine, which has been found to boost dopamine in the brain in a similar way to Adderall. But, as it's from a naturally occurring protein rather than a synthetic pharmaceutical, it can arguably cause less of the side effects associated with Adderall.

Conclusion: Adderall for studying

So, there we have it.

This article has asked the question: is it worth it to take Adderall when studying?

The honest answer is, probably not.

Due to issues surrounding safety, legality and side effects, it is generally recommended not to use Adderall as a nootropic beyond pulling a one-off all-nighter

Therefore, we would recommend the use of safe and effective natural nootropics, and you can read more about our favourite one here.

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About the author

Benjamin Martin is a nootropic and brain supplement enthusiast

Benjamin Martin is a nootropic and brain supplement enthusiast who has tried every type of performance-boosting supplement under the sun. At Brainzyme, he uses his expertise to produce educational content for the Nootropics UK and Brain Supplements UK blogs.

Based in Edinburgh, Benjamin loves spending his free time in nature whenever he gets the chance.