Most people don’t know the truth about Adderall and how it’s similar to meth. Adderall was FDA-approved for ADHD because it affects patients differently and is safer for them to use.  When people that don’t have ADHD abuse it, it causes effects that are equivalent to stronger drugs. Meth and Adderall are both stimulants and can cause addiction. Adderall vs. methamphetamines similarities are now being compared to by neuroscientific studies. It’s concerning because meth addiction has become an epidemic in countries like the US.  

We all know that OxyContin, which is a prescription opiate medication, can be as addictive and as harmful as heroin. The same understanding has not caught on when it comes to prescription drugs like Adderall and their similarity with illegal stimulants like meth.

Dr. Carl Hart is an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry. He specialises in abuse and addiction and recently compared Adderall to the likeliness of crystal meth. There may be some differences between the drug but the potential of addiction and the risks of Adderall abuse are real. There is evidence to suggest that when people without ADHD abuse Adderall, the risks are similar to meth use.

Adderall for ADD/ADHD

Most patients with ADD/ADHD are being treated with amphetamine-based drugs. Up to 75% of people with ADHD are prescribed drugs like Adderall and Ritalin. They are beneficial for the disorders. Pharmaceutical companies are releasing Adderall candy to make it more enticing for kids to take. The company responsible for distributing this candy Adderall say it is popular for most clinics.

With this new addition to the drug, the concern is that Adderall abuse will become more widespread. Recreational abuse of Adderall has the possibility of causing convulsions, coma, and death.

The Benefits of Adderall for ADHD Patients

People that abuse Adderall that don’t have ADHD will tend to get hyperactive. Adderall calms people with ADHD down. One of the greatest benefits students with ADHD speak about is the ability to focus on their schoolwork. They will tend to get better grades because they can retain the information they learn as well as focusing on it in the first place.

Patients with ADHD have neurological issues that cause the brain to flip constantly, making it impossible to focus on one thing. Adderall is a stimulant so the fact that it causes hyperactivity in non-ADHD patients makes sense. A stimulant helps ADHD patients because they can focus on a task as they now have interest. When studies were conducted between Adderall vs. Ritalin for studying, it was found that Adderall was more effective.

ADHD patients aren’t looking to be hyperactive. They often have have less dopamine production and will strive to engage dopamine release. ADHD patients will often partake in risky behaviors or be hyperactive because of this. A medication like Adderall will elevate the dopamine levels which helps them to feel calm and allows patients to focus.

what-is-adderall

What is Adderall?

Adderall is the brand of prescription drug designed for those with ADHD as well as patients with narcolepsy. Ritalin is the other brand name prescription drug that is similar and used for the same purpose. Adderall contains the stimulants amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Due to its high potential for abuse and addiction, this powerful stimulant drug is a Schedule II controlled substance. If

Adderall is taken as prescribed by someone who legitimately has ADHD, it’s been proven to be extremely helpful. They experience a greater focus when managing tasks and risky behavior reduces.

When Adderall is Abused

The problem with Adderall and the reason that experts are starting to get concerned is the abuse factor. Recreational abuse of Adderall has grown in popularity over the past few years. There are many ways people without ADHD can get the drug. Patients with ADHD are willing to sell their Adderall pills because they can sell them for between $20-$30 a pill. There is also a risk of being misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD. In this case, the patient is given a steady prescription for a drug they don’t need.

Adderall abuse can lead to overdose. Symptoms of an overdose include;

  • Hyperventilation.
  • Abnormalities in the heart rhythm.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Tremors.
  • Confusion or delirium.
  • Vertigo.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Coma.

Long-term usage in those who don’t have ADHD can lead to tolerance. They will need more Adderall to get the same results. Then dependency comes in where your body doesn’t function well unless you have Adderall in your system. This leads to addiction which includes seeking Adderall out, chronic drug use and using despite the fact it’s causing problems in one’s life.

Adderall Addiction

Patients that benefit from Adderall don’t tend to get addicted to the effects. The hyper-stimulation that occurs for those that don’t need the drug to level out are what causes excessive abuse and addiction. Non-ADHD users of Adderall say it makes them feel strong, confident, and full of energy. This allows them to accomplish more on a daily basis. Appetite is suppressed as well which may be part of the reason some will take it initially. It’s easy to lose weight on Adderall while still maintaining the energy to get more done.

Students on campuses are prone to using Adderall to manage busy schedules. College can come with a myriad of stresses. Being away from home, inability to take the time to work out and bad eating habits can all become reasons one would start taking Adderall.

Adderall Addiction

Patients that benefit from Adderall don’t tend to get addicted to the effects. The hyper-stimulation that occurs for those that don’t need the drug to level out are what causes excessive abuse and addiction. Non-ADHD users of Adderall say it makes them feel strong, confident, and full of energy. This allows them to accomplish more on a daily basis. Appetite is suppressed as well which may be part of the reason some will take it initially. It’s easy to lose weight on Adderall while still maintaining the energy to get more done.

Students on campuses are prone to using Adderall to manage busy schedules. College can come with a myriad of stresses. Being away from home, inability to take the time to work out and bad eating habits can all become reasons one would start taking Adderall.

Adderall on the Streets

The fact that 1 in 5 boys’ parents are told their child may have ADHD can give you insight into how much Adderall is being administered. In the US, 13.2% of boys between 4 and 12 have been given a diagnosis of ADHD. Over 30% of prescribed Adderall is being diverted to recreational use. Most people believe that prescription drugs are not dangerous and view them differently to illegal drugs. It gets even worse when users start mixing Adderall and crystal meth or other substances.

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Similarities of Adderall and Meth

Adderall and methamphetamine are not exactly the same but they do share similarities. Methamphetamines are within the double methyl group. This is what separates them from being an amphetamine. The extra methyl group in methamphetamine causes the drug to effect the user differently. It lets the effects of the drug cross the blood brain barrier quicker. This makes it more potent.

Meth also has a variety of chemicals and toxins that are more damaging to the brain than Adderall. Meth addiction will occur more quickly because it crosses the blood brain barrier so much faster. What makes them similar is that they produce similar effects. Adderall and meth addiction are equally as prevalent for those who abuse these stimulants.

Effects of Meth

Adderall has the ability to be addictive like meth but it does have its advantages in the right dose for ADHD patients. Meth however is an illicit drug with a purpose of getting high recreationally. It affects the brain much faster and is far more potent. The effects include euphoria, a feeling of invincibility and users will experience greater energy and alertness. Side effects are similar to Adderall but are more severe and potent. These side effects are both short and long term;

  • Hallucinations.
  • Psychosis.
  • Paranoia.
  • Brain structure and function alterations.
  • Inability to control thinking or motor skills.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Inability to sleep.
  • Loss of memory.
  • Violence or aggression.
  • May become depressed.
  • Deterioration of teeth.
  • Extreme weight loss.
  • Addiction.

Effects of Adderall

Adderall can cause a variety of negative side effects even when taken as prescribed. There is a major risk when people abuse Adderall. Abuse can include taking more than prescribed or intentionally misusing the pill. Chewing, snorting, or injecting produces health risks and further potential for addiction.

With Adderall, the user may feel euphoric with more alertness and energy. This is much like the results of stimulants like cocaine or meth.

The adverse short-term effects of Adderall include:

  • Suppression in appetite.
  • Rapid Weight Loss.
  • Irritability.
  • Insomnia.
  • Restlessness.
  • Potential cardiac problems.

Adverse long-term Adderall effects:

  • Paranoia.
  • Depression.
  • Violence or hostility.
  • Addiction.

While the physical and psychological addiction may not be as potent, they are similar. Adderall can create tolerance over time and withdrawal symptoms will occur.

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The Dangers of Adderall

Dr. Carl L. Hart says that while meth is extremely dangerous, perhaps the danger of Adderall is the opinion people have of it. He believes that Adderall is so dangerous because it is so widely accepted with the public. People know that meth is dangerous but they see Adderall as normal even if it’s being abused.

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The Science Behind Adderall and Meth Similarities

Dr. Carl L. Hart, a professor in psychiatry explains the science regarding meth and FDA-approved medications to treat ADHD like Adderall and Ritalin. Hart says,

“Remember that methamphetamine and d-amphetamine are both FDA-approved medications to treat ADHD. In addition, methamphetamine is approved to treat obesity and d-amphetamine to treat narcolepsy.

In the interest of full disclosure, I too once believed that methamphetamine was far more dangerous than d-amphetamine, despite the fact that the chemical structure of the two drugs is nearly identical. In the late 1990s, when I was a PhD student, I was told—and I fully believed—that the addition of the methyl group to methamphetamine made it more lipid-soluble (translation: able to enter the brain more rapidly) and therefore more addictive than d-amphetamine.”

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The Stigma Between Adderall and Meth

Adderall isn’t getting the negative press that meth does although they are so similar. It is rarely discussed that abusing Adderall is dangerous with addiction potential. Young people are more vulnerable to develop Adderall addiction because they don’t expect it. Meth or Adderall can be life threatening when abused. They are both powerful stimulants that wreak havoc on physical and mental health.

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Stimulant addiction will often require addiction treatment. This usually doesn’t include detox but as the withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, it’s good to be in a clinic for monitoring. Talk therapy and holistic treatment such as yoga or meditation is also recommended. Meth may be the more severe of the two addictions but Adderall isn’t a harmless drug. Perhaps what is making so harmful is that it hasn’t received the stigma that it should. It is very useful for those who need it but too many people are abusing Adderall with no idea of how dangerous it is.

Full Infographic:

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