Ask the Experts

Am I Developing a Tolerance to Adderall?

“My current dose of Adderall — 20 mg daily — seems to be less effective at treating my ADHD symptoms than it was when I first started. Is it possible that I’ve built up a tolerance to the medication? Do I need to increase my dosage?”

Yes, it is possible that you’ve developed a tolerance to Adderall at your current dose. Noticing and responding to medication shifts such as this one is critical for maintaining a well-balanced treatment plan for attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD).

The dose of Adderall needed is not based on age or body composition. It appears to be based on the specific pattern of metabolizing the medication for each person, which can change over time. Thus, some need 5 mg per dose, some 10, some 15, and some 20. Each individual needs to find out.

When you say that you use to take 20 mg a day, did you mean 10 mg twice a day? If so, you may find that you now need a higher dose, perhaps 15 or 20 mg each dose. Each dose lasts between four and five hours. So, experiment with when you need coverage. Perhaps you can take it during classes, skip time in the late afternoon when you are “vegging” out, then take a dose to cover homework. Discuss these options with your physician.

[Free Resource: How Do We Know the Medication Is Working?]

Talk about your experience with different ADHD medications on the ADDitude Treatment Review Pages.

Larry Silver, M.D., is a member of ADDitude’s ADHD Medical Review Panel.