Adderall vs Meth - What’s the Difference?
Amphetamines are one of the most common drugs in the United States. In fact, in 2021, Americans had some 41.4 million prescriptions for prescription and generic Adderall. That number of prescriptions is at an all time high, up 10% from 2020, and up almost 10 million from 2017. Adderall is also famous as being “just like meth”, and if you or a loved one is using it, you probably have concerns.
However, Adderall and Methamphetamine are very different blends of the same substances. Adderall is a mix of amphetamine salts. It’s identical to Mydayis and a number of generic drugs, which are mostly used to treat ADD, ADHD, and other attention disorders. But, as it’s made up of two of the active ingredients in Methamphetamine, the effects at very high doses can be quite similar. And vice-versa. Methamphetamine is sometimes used to treat ADD.
Today, the widespread availability of Adderall has led to its being abused in recreational settings. People use it as a study drug, with some 4.4% of `12th graders admitting to doing so. Others inject it, looking for the same highs as with methamphetamine. And, some 3.7 million people abuse prescription stimulants like Adderall each year.
What are the Differences Between Adderall and Methamphetamine?
Amphetamines are all remarkably similar drugs and Adderall and Methamphetamine are both amphetamines. This class of drug is made up of active ingredients known as “amphetamine salts”. Here, dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine are the two most common of these salts. Each of these two salts has a different reaction in the brain, meaning that different amounts of each can produce remarkably different results.
Adderall – Adderall is a 3:1 mix of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. This mix is used in Myadis, Adderall, and Adderall RX, as well as generic versions of each of these drugs. It also balances the effects of each to produce a profile that is tilted towards increasing focus and attention. The effects of amphetamine drugs like Dexedrine and Evekeo, which only use dextroamphetamine, are markedly different. However, that’s not the only difference. All authentic Adderall is made in a lab, under regulated conditions, and packaged in regulated doses of 5-30mg. These pills contain regulated inactive ingredients, most of which are cellulose or sugars or salts. With Adderall, providing you buy authentic pills, you always know what you’re getting and that the other ingredients are safe.
Methamphetamine – Methamphetamine is a 1:1 mix of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. The higher dose of levoamphetamine adds increased impacts to wakefullness, concentration, decreased appetite, decreased fatigue, and weight loss. For this reason, levoamphetamine is sometimes sold as a narcolepsy treatment. Levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine was also commonly used in nasal decongestants, such as Vicks and Robitussin, meaning that drug-dealers could simply purchase over-the-counter cold medicine, distill it down, and have methamphetamine. Today, these drugs are much more likely to be manufactured separately. They can often be sold as “Adderall” except the pills are made somewhere other than a lab, without regulation, and dosage may vary significantly. In addition, many are made with fentanyl, an opioid with 100 times the strength of morphine, because it’s cheaper.
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Dosage – Every Adderall pill contains 25% Dextroamphetamine Saccharate, 25% Amphetamine Aspartate Monohydrate, 25% Dextroamphetamine Sulfate, and 25% Amphetamine Sulfate, with cellulose and salt fillers to increase the size of the pill. A methamphetamine dose is neither predictable nor guaranteed not to contain fillers like chalk or baby powder.
Salt Mix – Methamphetamine is a 1:1 mix of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. Adderall is a 3:1 mix of dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine. Because levoamphetamine is considered to produce more euphoric results, methamphetamine is easier to abuse.
Safety – Adderall is regulated, produced in clean labs, and uses safe fillers. Methamphetamine and fake Adderall pills don’t have that safety guarantee. However, no abuse of an amphetamine is “safe”, it’s just safer to use a drug that you know doesn’t contain toxic additives, other drugs, or a higher dose than expected.
What are the Effects of Amphetamines?
Amphetamines are “uppers” or “stimulants” which affect the central nervous system. Here, amphetamines affect the central nervous system, dopamine neurotransmitters, and norepinephrine transmitters. Someone taking the drug feels increases in confidence, wakefulness, focus, and attention. Dopamine affects normally result in the person having more motivation to complete tasks, and therefore more ability to focus on them. It also increases body temperature and heart rate, increasing feelings of energy and wakefulness. In high doses, increases in dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain can cause feelings of power, confidence, and even euphoria, making amphetamines extremely popular party drugs.
Of course, those same effects can result in very negative side effects.
Heart Problems – Long-term use of amphetamines in high doses stresses the heart, and can result in heart problems. Someone with a weak heart can have a heart attack.
Exhaustion – People who don’t feel tired don’t rest, and as a result, meth users can stay awake for days. The result is normally crashing for several days at a time when the high wears off. This increases risks of stress and heart attack.
Reduced Dopamine Production – The brain reduces dopamine production to cope with high amounts of dopamine in the brain. The result is that someone who frequently uses amphetamines may feel blunted or unable to feel emotions or motivation when not using.
Paranoia – Increases in dopamine and norepinephrine can cause increases in anxiety, paranoia, and psychosis. Heavy users typically become extremely paranoid and may scratch at the skin, believing insects or bugs to be crawling there. However, some people can experience visual hallucinations at even small doses, meaning this drug is never safe to take without medical supervision.
Is Adderall Safe?
More than 40 million Americans have an Adderall prescription, which they use to manage attention disorders. Adderall is an extremely useful drug, which can help people to go about their lives, to go to work, and to focus on school, their careers, and their hobbies. It’s safe to take while you take it in accordance with a prescription. However, even with prescription usage, many people experience withdrawal symptoms when quitting.
On the other hand, Adderall is never safe to take without a prescription. Having medical monitoring is important to ensure there are no negative side-effects, like paranoia, muscle twitches, or addiction. In addition, if you’re sourcing Adderall illegally, you’re exposed to dangerous fake versions of the pills, which may be contaminated with other drugs, which may be contaminated with toxic filler agents, and which may be significantly higher in dose than you expect. In addition, taking too much Adderall can cause significant symptoms of toxicity. People who use large doses of Adderall see constant cold and flu symptoms, muscle shakes, sweating, mood swings, weight loss, loss of interest in relationships and hobbies, and increasing paranoia and anxiety.
There are differences between Adderall and Methamphetamine highs. However, when taken in high doses, those differences vanish and the effects are much the same. Adderall is somewhat safer because it’s unlikely to be contaminated and very likely to be a standardized dose. However, abusing any amphetamine is unsafe, simply because the drug is not safe to use in large doses.
If you or a loved one is struggling, it’s important to reach out and get help. Drug addiction treatment and behavioral therapy can help you to tackle the underlying causes behind drug abuse and to find better coping mechanisms.
If you or your loved-one struggles from alcoholism or other substance abuse please contact us today and speak with one of our experienced and professional intake advisors about our detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment programs. 10 Acre Ranch also has specialty tracks like our pet friendly drug rehab and couples substance abuse treatment programs. We’re here to help you recover.