Adderall is a “smart drug” that contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Doctors often prescribe Adderall as a treatment for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), but it has also developed a reputation as cognitive enhancer. This has made it popular with students, business people, and overreachers from all walks of life.
It must be remembered Adderall is a drug, not a supplement, and the restrictions on its distribution are in place for a reason. As with most drugs, it has the potential to cause side effects, and, like amphetamine, it can be addictive.
However, many people who have the desire to boost their mind power and productivity fail to let the restrictions deter them. Some people have been known to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure a supply of Adderall and there are those who are happy to pop Adderall like smarties regardless of the possible damage to their health.
An article published in the New Yorker in 2009, highlights the prevalence of Adderall abuse by telling the story of a young man whose brother suffered from ADHD and was a legitimate Adderall user. The young man in question was familiar with the drug's reputations and, fuelled by a desire to excel in his studies, learned to fake the symptoms of his brother's condition and tricked his doctor into furnishing him with an ongoing supply of pills.
Adderall and Mental Performance
Adderall contains amphetamine, which appears to have the potential to provide enhanced mental abilities. In 2015, researchers conducted a systematic review that encompassed the data obtained from a number of studies and discovered amphetamine can stimulate improvements to episodic memory, working memory and inhibitory control (in healthy adults).
These cognitive enhancements appear to be aided by amphetamine's ability to trigger the release of adrenoceptor A2 and dopamine receptor D1 and it also has the power to boost cortical network efficiency. The stimulatory abilities of amphetamine can also help enhance the ability to perform boring or difficult tasks.
The other ingredient in Adderall, dextroamphetamine, is a potent stimulant that works on the central nervous system. During the war it was often used by military personnel when they needed something to stop fatigue setting in during night bombing expeditions and other long missions.
It is often used as a standalone treatment for (ADHD), but science has yet to fully grasp all of the processes involved.
However, an article published in Time in 2010 references a study that suggests Adderall may not be as powerful as most people believe. In a double-blind placebo study, the Adderall users stated the drug has helped them to perform better during tests, but their test results were so similar to the placebo group the researchers concluded the supposed benefits the Adderall users reported were all in their head (imaginary).
Adderall Crash & Other Side Effects
When used as a treatment for ADHD, Adderall can increase dopamine levels and have a calming effect on the brain, but most people are not lacking in dopamine, so when Adderall is misused as a mental performance enhancing drug the resulting excess in dopamine can lead to feelings of restlessness and euphoria.
Users who experience such side effects and then decide to stop taking the pills, or perhaps are no longer able to source a supply, may experience a “crash” that can manifest itself in extreme feelings of fatigue that are often accompanied by difficulties in sleeping.
Other Adderall withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Powerful cravings for further medication
- Anxiety and irritability
- Panic attacks or phobias
- Thoughts of suicide
Quitting Adderall can cause problems, but continuing to use it may cause more.
Some of the side effects associated with Adderall include:
- Susceptibility to urinary tract infections
- Acute dermatosis (skin condition)
- Feelings of weakness
- Personality changes
- Feelings of nausea
- Loss of appetite
- Racing heart
- Dry mouth
Adderall is also known to be unsuitable for people who have certain medical conditions, and may interact badly with some medications, so the fact that so many people are self-medicating with Adderall, often obtained via illegal channels, is very worrying.
Although Adderall offers obvious benefits when obtained through legitimate channels and used in the intended way, the fact that so many people are willing to risk their health by using the drug without adequate supervision or prior medical checks is a genuine cause for concern.
Despite the fact that some experts believe Adderall's mind boosting reputation is not deserved, other studies indicate otherwise, and the fact that so many users swear by it suggests the drug's reputation is built on solid ground. But the health risks entailed, when coupled with the availability of safer nootropic supplements, means Adderall is not by any means the smartest option available.