Controlled Substances: Why ADHD?

a rainbow of pills behind a centered sign that is the controlled substance label

Controlled Substances

Federal government regulates how the drug is made, prescribed, and dispensed. Security Measures to Guard agaisnt Abuse

If you’re taking medicine for ADHD, what you’re taking likely is a controlled substance. That means that the federal government regulates how the drug is made, prescribed, and dispensed. There are also extra security measures to guard against abuse. “This affects the way you get and fill your prescription at the pharmacy,”

a shorthand list of the 5 schedueled classes or narcotics

Need To Know

Medications fall into one of five categories, called “schedules,” based on their safety, risk for abuse, and accepted medical use.

The Controlled Substances Act has been in place since 1970. It governs the making and distribution of medications.

The majority of ADHD stimulant medications, such as dextroamphetamine-amphetamine (Adderall, Adderall XR), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), and methylphenidate (Ritalin), fall into the Schedule II category. They're legal, but they’re considered dangerous because of their high risk of abuse and dependence. Other Schedule II drugs include painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin.

a ritalin bottle knocked over with a whole table of little white pills

What Scheduel?

Most ADHD Drugs Are Considered Schedule II

Like with other stimulants, it’s possible to become dependent on or abuse ADHD medications,

Research suggests a growing number of people without ADHD are taking the drugs illegally.

map of the side view of a brain with the prefrontal cortex highlighted

Why Use?

It can make you more alert and increase your concentration and metabolism

Brain signal problems -- how different parts communicate with each other -- are part of the cause of ADHD. It’s important to know why the drugs are used for ADHD. Studies show that certain spots, such as the area just behind your forehead, called the prefrontal cortex, are less active for people with ADHD.

a worried face woman holding hearts over her eyes blinding her

Why's it Abused

Feeling of euphoria. When crushed and snorted or injected, they can lead to a “high” that’s similar to cocaine.

This can lead to a psychological and physical dependence on these ADHD drugs.

People who become dependent can have withdrawal symptoms like feeling tired, feeling depressed, or having unusual sleep patterns if they stop taking it.

microscopic view of transcranial brain stimulation

Stimulant Drugs

If youre Prescribed these, than take as Prescribed

it’s important that you take it as directed.

With the appropriate monitoring, the risk of abuse or dependency in people who have ADHD is limited.

Many prescriptions are written on a 30-day basis, which means you have to check in with your doctor every month.

a view of a ritalin extended release capsuel opened and one molecule highlighted to showcase the time release feature


You may want to prescribe an extended-release version of your drug

This form of the medication is released into the bloodstream over time, it may reduce the risk of abuse.

But If you’re concerned about your risk of addiction to your ADHD medication, speak with your doctor.

close up of a mans face with the look of fear of his own thoughts on his face

Signs of Abuse

Finishing a prescription ahead of schedule, Weight loss, Agitation, Unusual thinking, Insomnia

If you notice any of these signs TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR. Addiction isn't something to be ashamed of. There is Help out there for a reason. Talk to your Doctor, the sooner the better.

a bottle of prescription pill laid over on top of a doctors prescription pad


You can’t just refill your prescription, and your doctor can’t phone in unless it’s an emergency.

You have to obtain a new and signed prescription from your doctor for each prescription.

Doctors can also issue prescriptions through a secure electronic prescribing system, which is regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

If you have trouble filling your prescription, talk with your doctor and pharmacist.

a big smile drawn on a yellow balloon help up over someones face


While all stimulant ADHD medications fall into the Schedule II category, there are nonstimulant

Nonstimulant drugs that aren’t controlled substances, such as Strattera (atomoxetine), Kapvay (clonidine ER), and Intuniv (guanfacine ER).

Because they aren’t stimulants, there’s a lower risk of abuse and dependency. But nonstimulant drugs are considered less effective for ADHD than the stimulants.

Talk with your doctor to see if a nonstimulant option is a good choice for you.