Both methamphetamine (meth) and Adderall are amphetamines and potent stimulants that have significant potential for abuse. Although they have many similarities in common, they are not the same drug—Adderall does not equal meth. While the latter is usually found illicitly, the former is often prescribed legally to treat conditions, such as ADD/ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Methamphetamine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant drug usually found as a white, bitter-tasting powder or crystal rock-like substance. Desoxyn is prescription methamphetamine available in a pill form. Desoxyn is rarely used and generally only prescribed for persons with particularly stubborn ADD/ADHD or obesity that has not responded to less intense treatment.
Most meth found on the street is covertly manufactured by drug cartels or in clandestine home labs. Illicit meth can contain any number of toxic substances. The method in which it is made is infamous for causing explosions and severe injuries to people involved in the process or those nearby.
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a popular name brand for a prescription drug containing amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, two CNS stimulants. The medication is indicated to treat ADD/ADHD and narcolepsy.
Adderall comes in pill form. It can be taken in an immediate-release or extended-release version.
Are Meth and Adderall The Same?
When comparing the two substances on a molecular level, meth and Adderall are closely related. Differences between the two substances are relatively minor.
Meth has an extra methyl group, a substance formed from three hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom. This additional methyl group makes the two substances chemically different but still related.
It is thought that the extra methyl group in meth allows the drug to cross the blood-brain barrier more rapidly than other amphetamines. This fact makes meth a much more potent drug than other amphetamines.
Adderall and meth are both CNS stimulants. They are classified as Schedule II substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration [DEA], and both require a prescription from a health provider.
Adderall is much more likely to be prescribed to patients to treat ADD/ADHD, narcolepsy, or other uses than meth. Most sources classify Adderall and meth as types of amphetamine drugs.
Adderall is a prescription medication that may also be a drug of abuse. Some sources estimate that 30% of Adderall prescribed in the United States is diverted for illegal purposes.
Adderall pills are consumed orally, but they are typically ground up and snorted by abusers. The drug may be crushed and diluted in a solution for injection.
Meth abuse is primarily restricted to the private and illicit manufacture of crystal meth. This formulation is typically smoked, crushed and snorted, or combined with a liquid and injected.
Effects of Both
As medications that work to stimulate the functioning of the CNS, these drugs share many of the same effects, including the following:
- Increased energy levels and hyperactivity in some individuals
- Improved ability to focus/concentrate
- Arousal of the sympathetic nervous system, including increased body temperature, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and heartbeat
- Reduced appetite and need for sleep
The effects of both drugs are dose-dependent. Higher doses of the drug will typically induce hyperactivity instead of stimulation, difficulties with concentration instead of improving focus, the inability to sleep, and more dramatic effects on the central and peripheral nervous system.
The potentially harmful effects of abusing either Adderall or meth are also very similar.
Certain effects may be more prevalent in persons who use the drug in a specific manner. For example, people who inject drugs are at an increased risk of developing blood-borne diseases and vascular issues. In contrast, people who smoke drugs are more likely to develop respiratory problems.
There are many other adverse effects of meth and Adderall, including the following:
- Changes in brain structure and functioning
- Cognitive issues associated with brain changes, including problems with attention, memory, and judgment
- Emotional problems related to changes to the brain, including mood swings, significant depression, problems with emotional inhibition emotions, or considerable anxiety
- Altered motor functioning
- Severe dental problems or significant nasal issues (due to snorting)
- Hostile and aggressive behaviors
- Sores or skins infections
- Significant weight loss
- Psychosis, which most often includes hallucinations and paranoid delusions
- Development of a stimulant use disorder
Can Adderall or Meth Abuse Lead To Chemical Dependence?
Yes. Both Adderall and meth have a significant potential to produce physical dependence in people who regularly use drugs and in substantial amounts—especially meth. Physical dependence consists of developing tolerance to the substance followed by the subsequent development of withdrawal syndrome.
The withdrawal syndrome for stimulant drugs is similar across nearly every drug in this category. Withdrawal from stimulants is hallmarked by a dysphoric, low mood and the presence of symptoms, which can include the following:
- Dulled senses
- Slowed speech
- Loss of interest
- Slowed movements
- Slow heart rate
- Increased appetite
- Memory impairments
- Weight loss
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Body aches and pains
- Severe drug cravings
- Unpleasant dreams
Stimulant withdrawal-related depression can be especially severe, especially for those with a history of clinical depression or other mood disorders.
They Are Not The Same
Although meth and Adderall are very similar substances, they are not the exact same drug.
Many people view meth as a far more dangerous substance than Adderall. When they think of meth, they often think of crystal meth, whereas many individuals know that Adderall is a prescription medication. Regardless, they are potentially dangerous drugs of abuse.
Many sources report the results of research studies where chronic abusers of meth were given Adderall. In general, subjects were unable to tell the difference between the effects of Adderall and those of meth. Thus, even though the medications are slightly different chemically, their overall stimulating effects are relatively similar, with meth being more potent.
Methamphetamine refers to professionally manufactured and regulated medication. Crystal meth is the illegally produced street version.
Although the chemical substances in meth and Adderall are similar, the process used to make crystal meth requires potentially dangerous and toxic substances, such as acetone, drain cleaner, and red phosphorus, among other chemicals.
Abuse of crystal meth can damage organ systems in the body because of these potentially dangerous additives. Chronic abusers of crystal meth often suffer numerous neurological, physical, and emotional problems that may not be reversible.
Getting Help for Amphetamine Addiction
A stimulant use disorder resulting from Adderall or meth abuse can be a life-threatening condition if professionals do not treat it. Such abuse can lead to severe physical and mental problems in the long run.
Treatment for abuse or methamphetamine abuse should consist of a well-rounded program administered by professionals. The vast majority of people who have developed substance use disorders cannot change their behavior without professional help.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer personalized, intensive treatment programs in partial hospitalization and residential formats.