Meth vs Adderall: Similarities and Differences


Have you ever wondered why some stimulants are socially acceptable while others seem “bad” or “dangerous?”

A great example of this is Adderall. While it’s a reliable prescription medication for people with ADHD, it’s also often abused by people who don’t need it. When people abuse and misuse Adderall, they can experience dangerous side-effects.

Many people don’t conflate Adderall with meth. Meth is seen as an illicit and dangerous drug. But are they that different? 

Meth and Adderall have more in common than you think. If you suspect that you or a loved one is misusing their Adderall but you’re not sure whether or not you should worry, this is the article for you. 

Keep reading to learn about how the two drugs are alike. 

What Is Adderall? 

Adderall is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s often prescribed for ADHD and treatment-resistant depression. It’s approved by the FDA for controlled and monitored use. 

Adderall, when used as intended, makes the person who’s making it feel more in control, focused, and energized. This helps many people who have difficulty with executive dysfunction and difficulty focusing or completing their work at the workplace or at school.

It’s most often prescribed in doses from 5 mg to 30 mg. 

Adderall is composed of two primary active ingredients: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These ingredients are energizing and they impact the way signals move through the brain. 

Although Adderall is a prescription medication, it’s also bought illegally and abused by many people. When someone who doesn’t need Adderall takes it anyway, it creates somewhat of a “high” and an energized state. 

It does give better focus, but that focus comes at the cost of potential for addiction. 

What Is Meth? 

Meth is a drug with no medical use. It’s always illegal and always used recreationally. 

While Adderall is made carefully for psychiatric use, meth is often created or mixed with harmful ingredients such as battery acid. 

Meth has similar effects to Adderall but amplified. It gives the user extreme energy, euphoria, and false confidence. 

Connotation In Society

When people think of meth vs Adderall, they don’t associate them with one another. Despite the fact that they’re both stimulants, because one is approved for psychiatric use, one is seen as “good” and the other “bad.”

There’s a stereotype of Adderall being a study drug. This means that high school and college students use it to prepare for big tests. Because of this, while people may understand that this usage is common, it’s also associated with “educated people” who are using it for a good purpose. 

Meth, on the other hand, is the opposite. Methamphetamine is common amongst people experiencing homelessness, so many people associate it with poverty. There’s a social stigma around those who are homeless, so some may even associate it with poor education. 

The connotation difference between meth and Adderall is dangerous. It makes people consider Adderall a safe drug with no (or few) risks. 

Class and Chemical Makeup

Both meth and Adderall are in the stimulant class of drugs. Stimulants are drugs that increase energy and alertness. For someone with ADHD, narcolepsy, or depression, this is useful. 

Adderall is comprised of equal amounts of racemic amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. As we mentioned, these ingredients alter the signals going through the brain.

Meth isn’t too different from Adderall in its chemical makeup. As a matter of fact, methamphetamine is a component of another popular ADHD medication: Ritalin. 

It increases the dopamine transmitter systems. 

While methamphetamine alone is used for medical use, street meth has enough other components mixed in that the therapeutic effects no longer apply. 

As we mentioned before, it’s synthesized with dangerous ingredients not limited to battery acid and drain cleaner. 

Side-Effects and Risks

Both meth and Adderall carry risks. They both have side-effects, though in different severities. Not everyone will experience the same side-effects. Let’s talk about the short and long-term effects and risks of these two stimulants.

As surprising as it is, they’re almost identical. 

Short Term Side-Effects

Short term results and side-effects of any stimulant can include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Tachycardia 
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Jitteryness
  • Insomnia

While it may seem counterintuitive that these stimulants would cause a loss of energy, depression and fatigue are actually common. Both of these drugs have a “comedown” period when they wear off.

That period is more abrupt with meth but still exists with Adderall. Even people who are prescribed Adderall report a sudden drop-off in focus and energy when it wears off.

Because some people abuse stimulants to lose weight, the loss of appetite is sometimes an appealing (though dangerous) side effect.

Long Term Side Effects  

When people have long-term continued use of meth or Adderall (without a prescription and a doctor’s observation) they can suffer more serious side-effects. These include:

  • Addiction
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dangerously high temperatures
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Heart attack
  • Psychosis

Meth carries several risks that Adderall doesn’t carry. These include:

  • Lost or rotted teeth
  • Skin sores
  • Aggressive and violent behavior

Both Adderall and meth can also result in overdose, though a meth overdose is more likely to be fatal. 

Meth is more addictive than Adderall, but because many people don’t recognize the risks of Adderall it can still result in addiction before people are aware of it. 

Signs Of Misuse

Are you worried that you or a loved one has a problem with stimulant use? Meth and Adderall have similar warning signs. They include:

  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Extreme and prolonged out-of-character energy
  • Mania
  • Talking quickly
  • Irritability
  • Poor hygiene 

If you’ve noticed any of these signs, it’s a good idea to have a talk with your loved one or seek treatment yourself. 

Both Meth and Adderall Can Be Dangerous

While many people don’t conflate meth and Adderall, both are stimulants that have a high potential for abuse. Even though Adderall has FDA approval that doesn’t mean that it’s safe, especially for those who don’t need it. 

If you or a loved one has been over-using Adderall, or if you suspect that a loved one is using meth, it may be time to have a talk and seek treatment. 

We want to help you on your path towards recovery. Contact us to find out about our professional detox program and inpatient addiction treatment. It’s time to get your life back.

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