The Similarities Between Adderall & Methamphetamine

“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 percent 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 percent 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.

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 cause the salivary glands to dry out which allows the mouths 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.

On a molecular level, Adderall and methamphetamine are very closely related. 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. Despite differences, the two drugs produce similar effects and both Adderall addiction, and meth addiction is amongst the potential negative consequences. Methamphetamines deliver a quick and intense high that includes feelings of euphoria and invincibility and increased energy and alertness.

Adverse Effects of Methamphetamine

  • 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 such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

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.”

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.

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