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Can Adderall Weaken Your Immune System?

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

The immune system is a complex group of glands, organs, and cells that work together to protect the body against infection and illness. This becomes compromised when substances are introduced that interfere with its function such as Adderall. The relationship between Adderall and a weakened immune system has become prevalent in people who abuse the drug. So what effect does Adderall have on the immune system and why is it harmful? Let’s take a look.

What Makes Up The Immune System?

immune system

The immune system is broken down into two categories: non-specific immunity and specific immunity. Each one functions in a different way with the same end goal, which is to protect the body from germs and infection.

Non-Specific Immunity

Non-specific immunity, otherwise known as innate immunity, is how the body protects itself on a physical level. It acts as a barrier between the outside world and germs. Innate immunity includes:

  • Skin
  • Tears
  • Sweat
  • Mucous Membranes

When something makes it past this first line of defense, the backup, specific immunity, kicks in.

Specific Immunity

Specific immunity is regulated by the central nervous system and includes immunity on a chemical and cellular level. Included in specific immunity are all of the white blood cells, which are produces by different organs and glands throughout the body. There are many different white blood cells, but all are essential to the proper functioning of the human immune system. [1] When these structures are damaged or the central nervous system is interfered with, it can dampen the immune system and increase the risk of infection and illness.


What is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It improves levels of concentration, increases wakefulness, and decreases appetite.[2] These desirable side effects make it a commonly abused drug among students usually as a study aid. However, Adderall is a habit-forming drug and when taken chronically, even at prescribed doses, someone is at risk of developing Adderall addiction.

Adderall is considered an amphetamine, which is a class of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system (CNS).[3] In cases where someone is abusing Adderall, this results in over-stimulation of the nervous system, which has some serious consequences. Due to the close interactions of the immune system and the central nervous system, this often results in weakened immunity.

Adderall and The Immune System

Adderall and the Immune System

In addition to interfering with the CNS, Adderall also causes other issues that depress the immune system. The increased energy levels that Adderall causes eventually results in a subsequent crash, leaving very little energy for other vital functions such as the immune system. [4] This causes the underproduction of white blood cells, which are vital for specific immunity to function properly.

Physical Damage

Adderall can also physically harm the immune system. Teeth grinding and skin picking associate with Adderall abuse results in enamel damage to the tooth and open sores in the skin. The damage to the physical barriers that protect the body from infection results in higher rates of infections. In addition to this, Adderall also damages the mucous membranes by causing gastric ulcers.[4] The physical damage caused by Adderall abuse forces the immune system to focus its attention on healing and protecting the affected areas. This means the body is more vulnerable to infections from other outside pathogens.

Disrupted Sleep

Another important component of immunity is sleep. After all, lack of sleep is associated with poor immunity and higher instances of illness.[5] One of the most common side effects of Adderall abuse is insomnia. As a result, the lack of sleep induces by Adderall addiction has detrimental effects on immunity.

Poor Nutrition

As Adderall suppresses the appetite, this increases the risk of malnutrition in those suffering from Adderall addiction. This is because people do not eat enough while taking the drug, resulting in the loss of vital nutrients. This lack of nutrients impairs the immune system from functioning properly. [6]

Other Risks of Adderall Abuse

In addition to weakened immunity, there are other dangers associated with Adderall abuse. Adderall has many unpleasant side effects, some of which may cause permanent damage with chronic abuse. These side effects include:

Adderall Abuse side effects

  • Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis
  • Brain damage
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive or erratic movements [2]

Getting Help for Adderall Addiction

If you are suffering from Adderall addiction it is important to seek help immediately to avoid any long-lasting damage. Treatment for Adderall includes inpatient drug rehab programs. These programs typically last 30 days and consist of intensive therapy. Working with an addiction counselor, you will have a treatment plan that addresses the underlying causes of your addiction.

At Carolina Center for Recovery, we have a holistic approach when it comes to treating addiction. This means we focus on physical health as well as mental health in order to heal your body and get your immune system back to full strength. The road to recovery is difficult, but our excellent and caring staff provides you with all the resources you need as you take the first steps towards sobriety. Contact us today to get started.