For people who have real, clinical difficulties with their concentration, Adderall can help them function well enough to get through a workday or classes in school. But this drug, commonly prescribed for people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, is often abused. For example, some may take it because they need to cram for an exam though they don't really have trouble focusing. Although it may seem like a good idea to pop an Adderall to ace a test, it is a powerful drug with many potentially dangerous side effects.

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In addition to assisting overactive or distracted people with ADHD, Adderall is a stimulant that is also prescribed for narcolepsy, a condition in which people cannot control when they fall asleep. But the same benefits that make it a solid treatment for those disorders — increased attention and decreased restlessness — have made it a target for students in particular.

The Mayo Clinic’s list of possible side effects is staggering in its length. It includes the most common effects of bladder pain and painful urination, cloudy urine, a pounding or irregular heartbeat and lower back or side pain, as well as the less common flu-like symptoms, cough, fever or chills. But there are also numerous other side effects that occur at an unknown rate, including peeling skin, chest pain, confusion, muscle spasms or convulsions, diarrhea, trouble breathing or swallowing, dizziness or double vision, headache, a loss of motor function, swelling, nausea, irritated eyes, hallucinations, tics, or unconsciousness.

The combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, Live Science says, may also cause insomnia, changes in sex drive, appetite and weight loss, numbness, delusions, mania or aggressive behavior. “Adderall is not for everybody,” the publication explains. People with a history of heart problems, for example, can die if they take stimulants. Others who may have difficulty using the medication are people with a history of anxiety or Tourette syndrome, which is characterized by tics.

Part of what can make Adderall dangerous is the way it is abused. “Adderall has become one of the mainstay drugs at many party events both on campus and off because it is cheap and easy to access,” Dr. Marc J. Romano, assistant medical director at Ocean Breeze Recovery in Pompano Beach, Florida, told Live Science. “Adderall’s appeal is the surge in energy that results when taking this drug along with a more subdued euphoric effect.” Some people will crush it and snort it, which can cause respiratory problems among other side effects, or mix it with alcohol — a combination that makes a person feel less drunk and thus can lead to alcohol poisoning from drinking too much.

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