The Similarities Between Adderall & Methamphetamine

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“I remember the first time I did methamphetamine. I tried it, and I just felt invincible, like nothing could stop me. I wanted to do this the rest of my life. I was willing to steal from my parents. It didn’t matter what the cost was; I was willing to cross any boundary to get that drug. I would lie, sneak out at night — I never had to do that before. It was immediately unmanageable for me. The only thing that was slightly manageable was that I did a little bit of homework in the beginning. I would stay up for as many days as I could until I would pass out with a pipe on my chest.”

Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant that is mainly used as a recreational drug and less commonly as a second line treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obesity. Nationally, nearly 6,000 people died from stimulant use – mostly meth – in 2015, a 255% increase from 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of the nation’s drug overdose toll attributed to stimulants inched up to 11% of the deaths. United States Customs and Border Protection statistics show that in the past five years, the amount of meth seized has tripled, while the seizures of other drugs have declined or had only modest increases. So what are the similarities and differences between Methamphetamine and Adderall?

I remember the first time I did Adderall I felt unstoppable. I felt powerful, smart, focused and capable. I had limitless energy, I was euphoric, and I was productive. I finally felt like I was in control of my life. I was seeing a nurse practitioner for medication management for attention deficit disorder. He warned me against Adderall and Vyvanse abuse, stating that addition to stimulants is very similar to addiction to Methamphetamine.

I thought that was ridiculous. Adderall is a medication. Meth is a street drug. I couldn’t wait to feel the high from Adderall and experience the weight loss from Vyvanse. I couldn’t wait to get work done for school and feel like a legend doing it. I couldn’t wait to feel utter accomplishment. I was a manipulative addict who was trying everything I could not to grab the prescriptions and haul ass to the pharmacy. Instead I did what any good addict would do and just sat there and manipulated him. I stared at him wide-eyed and in shock. “What are the dangers of Stimulant abuse?” I asked.

Stimulants such as Adderall and meth cause the salivary glands to dry out, which allows the mouth’s acids to eat away at the tooth enamel causing cavities. Teeth can become translucent. Hair loss, malnourishment, and hypertension were just a few of the many side effects of Adderall abuse. Also, psychosis. Arrogantly, I figured none of those side effects would happen to me. Little did I know, two years later they would have all happened and more. 

Similarities Between Adderall and Meth

On a molecular level, Adderall and methamphetamine are very closely related. Both substances are stimulants, meaning that they rev up the central nervous system. This is why abusing either one of these substances produces effects such as heightened energy, increased focus, excessive euphoria, and chattiness. Everything in the body starts working faster than normal. Unfortunately, that means that both Adderall and meth can cause negative impacts to the mind and body, as the body is not meant to be functioning at rates higher than expected. The abuse of both substances can lead to addiction and dependency, making ending use extremely difficult (if not impossible). On top of that, it’s possible to experience cardiovascular problems (e.g. cardiomyopathy, enlarged heart, heart attack, cardiac arrhythmia), which are some of the most common consequences of meth and Adderall addiction. Plus, an addiction to either substance can lead to social, professional, and emotional problems that can be irreversible.

The main difference is that the extra methyl group in methamphetamine allows the effects of the drug to cross the blood-brain barrier faster, which makes the drug more potent. Also, meth contains a vast host of chemicals and is neurotoxic, which means it can cause more severe damage to the brain than Adderall. When compared against one another, meth certainly possesses more frightening side effects (such as tooth decay, skin problems, brittle bones, and brain damage), but that does not negate how dangerous Adderall can be.

Effects of Methamphetamine and Adderall Addiction

Methamphetamine, as mentioned before, creates a wide variety of adverse effects when abused. There is no way to dodge the impacts that this drug is known to produce, which include (but are not limited to), the following:

  • Psychosis, including hallucinations and extreme paranoia
  • Change in brain structure and function
  • Deficits in thinking and motor skills
  • Increased distractibility
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Depression
  • Severe dental problems
  • Weight loss
  • Meth Addiction

Adderall abuse can create feelings of euphoria and increased alertness and energy, similar to the effects of other stimulants like methamphetamine. Additional effects of Adderall can be both short and long-term.

Short-Term Effects of Adderall

  • Irritability
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Cardiac Issues

Long Term Effects of Adderall

  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Hostility
  • Adderall Addiction

“Meth is similar to Adderall in the fact that you can hyper-focus. It’s almost like you focus too much. I would do art, and I would draw. I would leave nothing blank on the page though. I would color in every spot and then like hang up a black picture on the wall. When I first started doing Meth, it helped me focus a lot. I would do school work and stuff like that, and then it just transitioned to those other areas like drawing. I could not watch TV for the life of me. I had to be doing something constantly. I would say the only similarity between Adderall and Meth is the focus part. Adderall is a lot cleaner of a high.”

After two years of abusing prescription stimulants, my teeth were entirely translucent. I had a broken and infected root canal, my hair had started breaking off due to malnourishment, I was thirty pounds underweight, and I had crossed over into psychosis. The side effects I experienced as a result of my Adderall abuse were shockingly similar to those experienced by those abusing Meth.

“I had horrible hygiene. I didn’t brush my teeth for days. Self-care is not a priority. You’re sweating a lot. I remember my feet would get cold. If I took my socks off my feet were like freezing. I was a face picker. I don’t know if it’s the chemicals but (meth) almost like excretes something out of your pores. They’re almost like pimples, but they’re not. It’s the grimiest substance. With Meth, it’s like made with household items, and that’s why I think your pores like open up and shit comes out of them. Once you start on something you get stuck and you constantly do it which is why I would have these sores and craters on my face.”

Getting Help for Adderall or Meth Addiction

I was scared to get help for my Adderall addiction. I became entirely dependent on stimulants to motivate me to do anything. I was scared I would lie on the couch all day and eat pizza and become nothing. What I didn’t realize was that Adderall had stopped working for me a long time ago. I no longer did homework; I no longer was useful. I was obsessed, paranoid and tense. My body and mind were disintegrating. I developed a deep self-hatred for myself. I needed help.

“Now that I’m sober, I don’t crave Meth anymore. I think about how dirty the drug is. Thoughts come and go every once and a while. Something will trigger a thought, and I’ll think about it then I use a tool like I play the tape through, call my sponsor or call another sober person. I’ve learned to be able to cope with the fleeting triggering thoughts.”

I had to be very patient with myself while recovering from Adderall abuse. I had to get dental work done. I had to learn how to eat and sleep again. I had to allow my body and mind to restore to health. My hair has grown back, and I finally feel healthy. I am more productive and more motivated than I was when I was using Adderall.

Attending an outpatient program and working the twelve steps have helped with triggering thoughts. It has helped me cope with my ADD. I firmly believe that just because someone has ADD does not mean they have to be a slave to ADD medication. There are natural coping mechanisms and life skills that I have learned that have allowed me to be drug-free.

Drug Rehab in Redondo Beach

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to Adderall, methamphetamines, or any other addictive substance, call Clear Recovery right now. Our team of experienced and compassionate professionals can help you or your loved one make the changes needed to live a happy, healthy life free from the confines of addiction.

Do not wait any longer. Call us right now to get started on a new tomorrow.

3 responses to “The Similarities Between Adderall & Methamphetamine

  • I am a migraineur & This always makes my reactions to drugs very different from anybody else unfortunately I have to take generic Adderall which I don’t think works as well and It is in a very low dosage from 5 to 10 mg a day but I do have lousy side effects I cannot take a vacation from it because I get a terrible migraine it’s such a low dose but I have hair loss and my teeth are already giving me problems and it’s only been nine months I don’t get high off of it I don’t work faster but I am less narcoleptic & less depressed. this always makes my reactions to drugs very different from anybody else unfortunately I have to take generic Adderall which I don’t think works as well and this is in a very low dosage from 5 to 10 mg a day but I do have lousy side effects I cannot take a vacation from it because I get a terrible migraine it’s such a low dose but I have hair loss and my teeth r already giving me problems and it’s only been nine months I don’t get high off of it I don’t work faster but I am less narcoleptic and generally less depressed it does help so it’s a conundrum

  • I’ve been having trouble with adderall for years and years, which was prescribed for ADHD. No doubt it helps when taken to just treat adhd symptoms, but beyond that, taking it for ultra performance, motivation, and feeling better puts me to increasing risk of the problems I am beginning to have again.

    At once time, I was able to stop taking it but my house started getting unmanageable and messy again and I wasn’t able to be as productive. Now that I resumed Adderall, I am again increasing my dose and not sleeping, which leads to the need for benzos to get to “sleep”. I wear a mouthguard for tooth grinding but really should wear it all day. I’ve cracked a number of teeth and had to have two pulled. Additionally I hate benzos because I become “stupid” with them and I know from literature I’ve read that there are studies showing a tie to Alzheimer’s and benzo use. when I wake up after taking a clonazepam, I feel depressed and foggy.

    I was so powerless over adderall I cannot believe I went back on it after having been taken off it during treatment for another addiction. It wasn’t as bad going off it while in treatment because the only requirement of me for five weeks was to attend meetings and show up for therapy groups. Now, I cannot afford to go that route again. I just like adderall too much. I have not used meth fortunately, but the results to my health seem similar but are coming on at a slower rate. I would not again try using meds for ADHD if you have any other addictions, unless you are prescribed a non-stimulant. Even then, I was, but insisted on trying stimulants. Maybe ADHD should be handled by trying to just be myself.

  • I’m so glad I read this today. My doctor prescribed adderol as she does for other women who use it “when they need to get stuff done!” I was taking 5mg twice a day and setting all kinds of impossible goals for myself. I am taking them out of my daily pill dispenser right now. I have a gum infection and have had bad mouth sores for years! I guess it wasn’t up to my doctor to warn me about the side effects!

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