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Adderall: College Students' Best Friend-- Or Worst Enemy??

Kristin Jenkins's picture

Attention deficit hyperactive disorder is a neurologically based behavioral disorder that afflicts children and adults alike (1). Characterized by inability to pay attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive actions, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD for short, this disorder has become a popular diagnosis for students who claim that they are unable to concentrate or focus on their studies (2). Much research has been done in recent years regarding ADHD, its neurological basis in the brain, and how to treat it effectively (1). Many prescription drugs have been released onto the market that effectively target the levels of certain hormones which in turn enable one to counteract the symptoms of ADHD (3).

However, drugs such as Adderall, which were developed solely for those properly diagnosed with the disorder, are beginning to be used recreationally by those whom admit to not having ADHD, but either find that they perform better with its aid or simply enjoy the high of the prescription drug (4). What does this mean for college students? Is recreational use of this drug dangerous physically? Mentally? Does the use of Adderall by those not diagnosed with pose the threat of an addiction? Is an addiction to a drug that seems to make you more efficient a bad thing?

To begin to answer these questions and more, one must understand a few of the basics of the neurobiology behind the disorder ADHD and the science behind drugs that treat it. Like many neurologically based disorders, scientists are not 100% sure of all of the complicated functions that play a role (1). However, by using state of the art brain imaging techniques, several studies have deduced that brains afflicted with ADHD malfunction in the frontal cortex (1). The frontal cortex is involved with primarily executive functions like reasoning, planning, focusing, and problem solving (1). It is in this part of the brain that dopamine, an important neurotransmitter, has been found to be deficient. Without proper concentrations of dopamine in the frontal cortex, these executive functions suffer (5).

To treat this disorder, prescription drugs like Adderall may be prescribed to patients. Adderall is a cocktail of several active ingredients that include amphetamine salts, an active ingredient in many ADHD medications. These amphetamines are thought to treat ADHD by blocking the reuptake of  dopamine from the neural synapses and increasing the uptake into subsequent neurons. The increased dopamine flow in the frontal cortex then allows the brain to carry on its executive functions as a normal brain would, thus counteracting the effects of ADHD (6). But what happens when a brain whose executive functions work properly is treated with such a powerful stimulant?

The answer to this question lies in the 1 in 5 college students that admit to using this drug and not having ADHD (7). Why? Athletes have steroids, depressives have “happy-pills”, and those who wish to do it all, and do it fast, have Adderall. A person with a perfectly normal, functioning frontal cortex and dopamine levels will experience a heightened sense of motivation, focus, and concentration. Presumably this is the perfect mood to pull all-nighters, read hundreds of pages at a time, and write pages and pages of that final paper (8). “I didn't feel like I was becoming smarter or even like I was thinking more clearly. I just felt more directed, less distracted by rogue thoughts, less day-dreamy (7),” states Joshua Foer, a journalist who, after consulting many doctors, decided to try Adderall for himself. “I felt like I was clearing away underbrush that had been obscuring my true capabilities (7).” Before performing his experiment, Foer discussed his decision with psychiatrists who informed him, to his surprise, that when taken in small doses, irregularly, with or without a prescription, Adderall is most likely harmless (7). Other scientists beg to differ, and it is these accounts that are of particular interest.

The general consensus is that stimulant amphetamines like Adderall do indeed increase performance in those that do and do not have properly diagnosed ADHD. The promise of a better GPA with less effort is promise enough for college students across the board to obtain Adderall by any means necessary. Many students admit to actually seeing doctors and purposefully exaggerating symptoms of ADHD to acquire medication. Others simply pop a generously donated pill from their pals (8). The danger lies in the possibility of dependence and the rarely considered effect of the drug on those that have preexisting medical problems that can deteriorate with prolonged use (8).

Since many students assert that they use Adderall only for studying for large tests and completing important assignments, the risk of dependency is high. “I don’t think I’m addicted…..I just can’t imagine not taking it (8),” says student Susan. Says student Steve: “I attend a major university….I take two pills when I have a ton of work to do….Without Adderall I failed one class….I began to take Adderall again and saw a huge improvement (9).” The long term effects of using Adderall in this manner are relatively unknown, however it is well known that those that use amphetamines in larger doses by snorting or inhaling can very well be diagnosed with addiction. Just one example of an amphetamine of this nature is speed (10).

Other side effects of this drug include being irritable while under the influence (8) and feeling as though one’s creativity has been stifled in the name of creating order out of disorder and doing the one task at hand (7). “These medications allow you to be more structured and more rigid. That's the opposite of the impulsivity of creativity,” says Dr. Heiligenstein of the University of Wisconsin (7). Is this just a small price to pay for an “A?” Can one sacrifice their creativity for a few hours in the name of passing Chemistry?

There is even more to this issue than menacing side effects, however. What is it about academics today that have students popping pills to succeed? And is it fair? Athletes that use steroids are kicked off their sports teams because they are assumed to have an unfair advantage—so isn’t this the same general principle? Many students, especially those that actually suffer from ADHD reply “Yes.” “It’s the kind of medication that can help anyone,” says ADHD afflicted student Josie, “For people with ADD, it just makes them normal, and for people without ADD, it makes them above average. If both me and someone without ADD were both on Adderall, I could never outdo them (8).”

So, as a stressed out college student striving to succeed in school and boost my GPA, I sit here wondering how much faster and more efficiently I could have written this paper had I been taking Adderall. A nagging suspicion tells me that yes, maybe I would have finished before 2 am. Maybe I would have stopping pausing to check my e-mail and Facebook. But my gut tells me that this is the wrong thing to do. Not being afflicted with ADHD, I do not have a good reason to take a pill to succeed other than to counteract my own inability to “get down to business”, as they say. My motivation for writing this paper was to find out whether or not unprescribed use of Adderall was dangerous. It appears that though it is not. The risk of dependency, however, is real, and can be seen in those students that can no longer finish assignments without the help of this drug. My question now is whether or not it is morally correct for college students to continue taking this drug as a stimulant—a question that is up to the reader to decide for his or herself.

Works Cited List





















Serendip Visitor's picture


I took two aderall last night and didn't fall asleep till I had filled an entire one subject notebooks with writings and observations. I started writing around 11 and when I finally decided to check my phone it was 630 and it was great. To put in perspective on how focused I was I am a very compulsive phone checker I'm basically on my phone nonstop....I have the s5 and I even take it the shower....I was so focused I didn't even think about the damn thing for 7 hours. PA if you smoke a little bud throughout night you come down great and don't feel drained that much

thomas lartin's picture

Adderall Works but the Longterm Side Effects Seem Scary

Both physically and psychologically this drug will leave people battered longterm. It is more understandable for people who only use it on occasion, but even then it is some powerful stuff that brings you up and then leaves you emotionally drained with that come down. If you didn't have ADHD before I am guessing it could probably contribute to it starting with longterm use or stopping completely as it very addictive.

On top of that after longterm use you can expect it to really take a beating on your heart health as. If someone thinks they actually have ADHD people should look to more natural ways to try and help their ability to focus. I have read that the different negative effects from ADHD can be traced back to specific neurotransmitters in our brain like discussed in this blog. In addition to what was already written I have seen some info saying that serotonin levels in our brain can be attributed specifically to the hyperactivity part of this mental illness. By changing our diet we can make sure we are getting the proper building blocks to make these neurotransmitters.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Creativity without it afterwords.

Althogh prescribed early on as ADHD, these days I'm having huge issues with not having the motivation to create music or graphic art when I'm NOT on adderall.

This depressed me, because it's all I've been passionate about forever. I'm stating to worry I'll never again be able to do these passions without amphetamines, and I've taken several long breaks before. Nothing.

Seeking Clarity's picture

Exception to the rule?

Ok, so first and foremost I haven't read ALL of the posts in entirety so if this has been addressed then I extend my apologies for redundancy. I am a current college student majoring in Engineering which I have found to be extremely challenging. I was given an adderall once by a fellow classmate so we could cram all night for a next day exam. Naturally, I was then capable of staying alert and squeezing in the much needed study time. I tried it a few additional times and the results were no different. So, against my better judgement I obtained a prescription for the drug in an attempt to "keep up" in my studies. Although, I don't sincerely feel I have ADD/ADHD. Before anyone begins to judge my actions, I am quite aware this is some form of abuse. I'm not proud of it, but it is what it is! Now to my primary concern... After taking Adderall for an extended period of time I've found that my ability to concentrate/focus has actually diminished. I struggle completing the task at hand. I find myself off task often, my ability to retain information has decreased, and my problem solving reasoning lacks severely while taking the medication. So why do I continue taking it you ask? The bottom line is that it aids in my alertness. Rather, I don't want to sleep! So I can stay up as long as I may need to. While using the medication, it actually takes me LONGER to complete assignments and I don't comprehend the material as well as if I weren't using. Again, so why do I continue taking it?! Because there is so much I have to get done. Without Adderall, there is no way I could stay up as late I need to in order to complete assignments. Which brings me back to the original reason for "why" I actually take it despite the negative side effects that accompany the positive. So my question is, has anyone else had these issues while taking Adderall? And, can anyone help me understand why this happens to me? It doesn't appear to be a normal side effect from what I have read. I don't understand it. I am interested in any feedback anyone can contribute in regards to my situation. Thanks!

College student biochemist's picture

First, I'm not a doctor. This

First, I'm not a doctor. This is just my speculation on the limited information presented. I would guess that your developed lack of attention is due to a poor mental reward system being established. Adderall, and well stimulants in general alter dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. This isn't a good or bad effect of Adderall because it can be used to your own benefit. However with how compulsive our every day behavior is (Reddit is a great example of a compulsive reward system.. click --> click --> reward --> click --> reward) it is easy to form poor habits. If you take Adderall and practice any compulsive behaviors you are more likely to establish that behavior habitually. This is true on or off of Adderall, but the affects are more pronounced while on it.

For example I noticed I was developing compulsive behavior while studying because I'm always on my laptop while studying. I would have a neat idea while studying and end up procrastinating while off on my little curiosity tangent that was unrelated to my homework. If this is something you've done then I would argue it is a major contributor to your lack of attention span. I do also know this is easily corrected with a little will power, and can indeed be turned into a positive. If you take Adderall, only concentrate on the task at hand, set progression goals, and have a reward in place then you can correct and in fact improve your attention capacity. I simply forced myself to stay on topic while studying, and it worked great. I know a friend who uses candy - he places a gummy bear at the end of each paragraph, and eats one after completing the paragraph. Practicing this kind of behavior on or off of Adderall will improve your ability to concentrate.

Hope that helps a little.

Serendip Visitor's picture

long term adderall use

I read your post on taking Adderall with no diagnosis of ADHD with interest as I have been taking Adderall for approximately 28 years and I also have not been diagnosed with ADHD.I was however diagnosed with Idiopathic Hypersomnia and Adderall is the drug of choice for treatment. Because I was unable to stay awake for any length of time (after sleeping all night within 20 minutes of waking I was falling asleep again) I really had no choice if I wanted to function. I felt like I had lead instead of blood in my veins. I was so tired It was difficult to talk. Driving became too dangerous. If I sat down I fell asleep. Since I had two children ages three and ten I had to be alert for them. Even if I took a nap in the afternoons I was asleep by 8:00pTm whether or not I wanted to be or not. I didn't have the option of taking another dose to get thru the evening because according to doctors and my sleep study, even sleeping 10 or 12 hours (sometimes up to 16) I was getting half the REM sleep I needed. Therefore no matter how much I slept I was sleep deprived. Adderall changed my life! At least while it was working. Basically it was just overriding my sleep deprivation and I was "Running on Empty.

My Experience taking Adderall for all these years is; I'm convinced if you don't have ADD, Adderall gives it to you. My short term memory is basically nonexistent although some days are better than others. I have such difficulty holding on to thoughts I'm often unable to explain what I'm trying to say. (this post took a lot of time and retyping). I have long term memory problems as well though not as bad. I lose words, sentences, thoughts, ideas but I'm full of frustration. So those of you who can function without Adderall although not as well might want to reconsider taking a "mind altering" drug you don't need. I had no choice because I could not stay awake for over 20-30 minutes without requiring a 3-4 hour nap. I mm ay as well have been dead no more than I was able to function. Yes I'm still taking it. Yes I still struggle to stay awake...sometimes even after taking my dose.
If I had it to do over I would take it again so I could have a life. But you who take it for improved performance... YOU ARE BEING STUPID. There are long time effects from taking it.

I am in a sleep study program at Emory University (look up "Emory University Sleeping Beauty" for more an this disorder) hoping they will find out what causes my problem, but until then I don't have a any other option. YOU DO!

A True Friend's picture

So Sorry

I have a friend who's wife takes Adderall for the reasons to stay up and clean... She too has gotten a prescription for it thou she does not suffer from ADD. She is 27 yrs old and now so out of control with her addiction her husband is in the process of divorcing her and taking her children because her behavior is so psychotic. She breaks out in psychotic episodes yelling and screaming when people call her out on her disrespectful behavour. She has even stollen my roommates car to go get her fix and when he called her out on it. She began kicking in his bedroom door, yelling she was going to ruin his life, and that she hated him, all kinds of words I can not put on this site. And then after things clamed down, she begins to make jokes about her actions as if its funny. Often when she is caught stealing from or breaking into her husands office, she denies she did these things. Even when he has it on tape or she say's that she blacked out and cannot remember. The Adderall makes her so delusional she believes she is entittled to taking peoples things with out asking, breaking peoples property when they ask her not to touch their belongings. And using every insult in the book she can call them when she is caught.

Ive watched her leave her young children for days without a mother to bath and feed them, leaving the responsibility to the working sole provider of the family (her husbsand) so that she can stay out all night for days. And when she returns she yells at her children after spening only ten mins with them for asking simple questions like "Mommy can I have juice?" Her responce is "your anoying me shut up." When she crashes she sleep for four days straight. she wont even wake to get her kids dressed for school.

She can not think straight or focus, she looses every thing she gets her hands on, no less then five mins after she had them... IE her house keys, her car keys, her phone, her ciggerates, her lighter. Then she blames her husband and says that he has stolen them. She says the stupidest things in front of his family members and business partners that he turns beat red. It's as if the Adderall has fried her brain. She admits to it, (that the Adderall is making her thought process slower and it is effecting her brains ability to make wise decisions) I've even offerd to pay for her to go to rehad, but after five years of using and a failing marriage she can not quit.

I've watched her flip out yell and scream at her husband over stupid simple things like no milk in the freg for the kids in the morning because she stayed up all night drinking it, all the while the empty cartoon is sitting at the side of her bed as proof. She has dammaged so much property while using she was even taking to jail in-front of her young children. I've never witness such unlogical, self-destructive behavour from a grown up, as like what I've witness in the last two weeks that I've stayed in their home. She isn't even embarressed when she behaves the way she does in public places or around friends when she is using. when she isn't using she is a totally diffrent person. Her husband says she was never this way before her addiction to Adderall. It is very, very sad. I wish you the best in breaking your addiction.

Guest's picture

RE: So Sorr

Your friend may have begun her addiction with Adderall, but the actions that you are describing sounds like she has advanced to using Crytal Meth. I don't believe Adderall will cause the symptoms she is showing. My daughter-in-law did the very same thing. Her husband needs to really keep an eye on her because she will become more violent as time progresses. And she will not realize that she is in a compromised state and may try to drive with the kids in the car, which is definitely something she does not need to be doing. Too dangerous. She needs help soon. There are clinics to help addicts gight their demons and get clean. They give them random drug tests to make them accountable and to make sure they are not using during treatment. I wish the best for you all.

College Student's picture


Try taking the pill to study before bashing it. It really does allow you to focus and be very productive, and if you're not an oversensitive anti-drug freak then you may find it to be a useful stimulant for studying. That being said, it is best taken irregularly if not prescribed. A lot of students feel that they cannot do any work without adderall after using it to study previously. My experience has showed me that if I only take it for big tests or finals but stay away from it the majority of the time, there is no harm to using it, just make sure you drink plenty of water and take it early enough to be able to sleep.

To the neuroscience aficionados who wish to bash me for my lack of argument from a biochemistry perspective, no I do not have extensive knowledge in the science behind the drug, I'm simply reporting my personal experience.

Curious enough's picture

Just an observation

Noticing of how many lengthy comments there are, I'd say there are some users here- it's obviously working.

michael j fullerton's picture

holy moly that was pretty

holy moly that was pretty funny:) I once knew this pretty funny holy girl. i think moly should always and only go after holy....... I just had to stop myself from constant punctuation........... uhhh ohhh.....everything is good in moderation unless its not moderatly good to take moderatly .. ok then....:)

Serendip Visitor's picture it safe?

Hi, I've been following this post for a long time and think it's time to chime in. There is a lot of information contained in these posts and my recommendation is for each and every one here to do some research online.....start by using your search engine with 'Adderall'. That will give you millions of hits and probably a great place to start is the online encyclopedia 'Wikipedia' - you'll see it right at the top.

My personal opinion is that Adderall is not a safe prescription drug for the following reasons:
- it contains variations of both dextroamphedamine & methamphedamine, neither one shown very safe in clinical tests for addiction, altered perception affecting decision-making & inciting various bodily maladys like coronary, nervous system and respiratory problems.
- in discussions with MD's it seems adderall has turned somewhat into a "here mom, maybe your son/daughter has ADHD so give them this and see what happens" type of prescription drug. It's affects a person's sense of awareness, similar to methamphedamine (speed) in that the subject feels 'on top of the world', 'no problem too big to handle', 'i'm very focused and alert, amazing', and the such all the way to 'wow, I've drank more beer than i ever have at one time in my life and I still feel great. I think I'll have another!'. The problem here is that doctors have become complacent about prescribing Adderall because it's an easy way to mitigate depression, ADHD, sometimes sexual issues, obesity among others. Virtually nobody complains because the drug initially works for all of these. The problem arises in the MD and parents do not effectively monitor the patient for adverse signs and it is easy to increase the dosage when say, a college student, says 'i'm not using it much but everyone else is so to keep up I really need a little more boost from it. I see this happening in 2 young adults in my neighborhood.
- There are many false representations of Adderall floating around (many on this site and in this blog) both ways. It's not 'pure methamphedamine' but contains a significant offshoot of that drug. It is represented as 'dextroamphedamine, which is only half of its content (the other half being that offshoot of methamphedamine). I have seen a string going through this discussion saying that the US military gives Adderall to pilots which is not true. The author of that post then goes on to describe what pilots get is 'dextroamphedamine' and not the more potent, addictive, and harmful half of the drug. This person claims to be a 'biochemist' which is great but there is a big difference what a lab geek says about his chemistry knowledge and what happens in real life.

I mentioned the two kids in my neighborhood who are both taking adderall. One is a college student and very bright and self confident. He uses it 'to keep up with the other students in my difficult classes'. I won't comment on that but he has called home to have his mom set up a MD appointment to renew his prescription (what kid, a freshman at college, makes sure to call his mom to remind her that he'll be home around thanksgiving and needs an appointment to get more adderall?). You make your own evaluation on that one - I think there is a dependency there. The second child is a sophomore in HS and has some coping problems with a tough kid/parent relationship, tough coping at school, maybe ADHD and other not abnormal problems of a 16-year old girl. She eventually got prescribed adderall by her therapist but only for 5 days per week!!! What kind of MD and responsible mother/father would allow for this to happen? The girl seems better during the week and then crashes and burns on the weekends. We questioned is mildly to her mom who 'poo-poo'ed' it off and wasn't really paying any attention 'as long as i don't have to deal with my daughters problems'. Nobody is paying any attention to these two kids and they are pretty much self-prescribing their adderall dosage and the MD and parents don't care. By the way, the college students frequency and dosage has doubled since entering school 7 months ago. The HS student has struggled with what to do; she's upped the dosage and I'm not sure what is the status of usage on the weekends.

Anyway, there are many issues with adderall and people argue both ways. I've just scratched the surface here and recommend you get serious about understanding this drug YOURSELF before indulging or having it prescribed for your kids. I also have not researched long term effects....something everyone should look into. Good luck with your evaluation of Adderall

Serendip Visitor's picture

Just to comment on the girl

Just to comment on the girl perscriped 5 days a week, I have a similar prescription but odds are she's is the 2 tablet a day normal adderall which is perscriped for when it's needed ie. During school and activities. The idea is that people who pop them for fun and don't have a prescription but take constantly eventually have to increase dosage as your body starts building against adderall. So by giving your mind some down the time the hope is that the dosage won't have to increase to get the same results.

Student biochemist's picture

Please let me correct you

Please let me correct you since you seem to be under the impression something I said was incorrect however you have failed to provide any evidence to support your claims. I however in every single one of my posts have provided detailed technical information that is easily verifiable, and provided citation to my claims. Any person's response lacking these qualities should be taken as false. No exceptions.

"it contains variations of both dextroamphedamine & methamphedamine, neither one shown very safe in clinical tests for addiction, altered perception affecting decision-making & inciting various bodily maladys like coronary, nervous system and respiratory problems."

It's funny that you say a good place to start is wikipedia, and then you go on to demonstrate you have not read the wikipedia page. Adderall contains absolutely 0 methamphetamine. It is comprised of a 3:1 dextroamphetamine & levoamphetamine salt mixture. You can verify this on which allows you to look up all the information on any prescription drug. Dextro & levo amphetamine are entantiomers of the same molecule - meaning the mirror image. Dextroamphetamine 3-4x more potent than levoamphetamine because it binds more readily to the TAAR1 binding site(1)(2).

" it contains variations of both dextroamphedamine & methamphedamine, neither one shown very safe in clinical tests for addiction, altered perception affecting decision-making & inciting various bodily maladys like coronary, nervous system and respiratory problems."

Ignoring that you spelled amphetamine wrong in both instances, and that adderall contains NO methamphetamine as the wikipedia page you encourage people to read states.. Adderall has been shown to be very safe clinically - please provide citation to this assertion. If you go to the citation (3) at the bottom you will find a publication stating that the short term health effects are clinically insignificant. If you go to citation (4) at the bottom you will find a publication stating that the short term and long term cardiovascular effects on children are clinically insignificant. You will also find no studies on the wikipedia page you encouraged people to read saying that long term health effects are a concern. Or any study to support any of the claims that you have made.

"It's affects a person's sense of awareness, similar to methamphedamine (speed) in that the subject feels 'on top of the world', 'no problem too big to handle', 'i'm very focused and alert, amazing', and the such all the way to 'wow, I've drank more beer than i ever have at one time in my life and I still feel great. I think I'll have another!'. The problem here is that doctors have become complacent about prescribing Adderall because it's an easy way to mitigate depression, ADHD, sometimes sexual issues, obesity among others."

Please learn how to spell amphetamine if you want people to take you seriously. Please provide citation that adderall is similar to methamphetamine in physiological effect. I take adderall and assure you none of what you have described in how adderall feels. Adderall is not used to treat depression, and it is not used for sexual issues. Please provide citation for these claims. Adderall would be counter-productive in males for sexual dysfunction. Adderall is not FDA approved for treatment of sexual disorders or for depression - this is easily verified. In fact that wikipedia page you again said was a good place to start tells you the only things it's approved for. While I don't doubt there might be some MD using it for these off-label reasons that again does nothing for the conversation. It has not been approved for such use nor is there any data on either side to indicate it's effectiveness for such use. Just so people know a doctor is legally allowed to prescribe most medications for off-label uses at their discretion - however it is not a prevalent thing in this instance.

"The problem arises in the MD and parents do not effectively monitor the patient for adverse signs and it is easy to increase the dosage when say, a college student, says 'i'm not using it much but everyone else is so to keep up I really need a little more boost from it. I see this happening in 2 young adults in my neighborhood."

You have provided conjecture that is not relevant to the progression of the conversation. The conversation moves forward with facts not conjecture. The effectiveness of the drug does not scale proportionately with the dose of the drug. There is no reason to take more to get 'a little more of a boost', once you get into recreational doses of adderall it is not nearly as helpful for ADHD. The fact that you know 2 young adults doing that in your neighborhood only tells people about the quality of people in your neighborhood - it does not tell you anything about the drug. I knew a kid that huffed dust-off in high school - that doesn't say anything about dust-off... That says that kid was a fool.

" I have seen a string going through this discussion saying that the US military gives Adderall to pilots which is not true. The author of that post then goes on to describe what pilots get is 'dextroamphedamine' and not the more potent, addictive, and harmful half of the drug. This person claims to be a 'biochemist' which is great but there is a big difference what a lab geek says about his chemistry knowledge and what happens in real life."

You know you're now the 3rd person to tell me the US military does not give dextroamphetamine to pilots. This means that NOT A SINGLE ONE of you tried to verify this information. If you go to one of these citations you will find multiple sources PROVING the U.S military gives it's pilots dextroamphetamine.(5)(6)(7) You can also find thousands of other sources verifying this is correct - EVEN on the wikipedia page you said to check! Also it clarifies that they only give them dextroamphetamine and NO levoamphetamine meaning that is MORE potent than adderall for the reasons I described above when distinguishing between the two. You're also right about there being a difference between the chemistry of a drug and the in vivo physiological effects. However I am a biochemist - my whole job is to determine the in vivo effects of drugs.

"he has called home to have his mom set up a MD appointment to renew his prescription (what kid, a freshman at college, makes sure to call his mom to remind her that he'll be home around thanksgiving and needs an appointment to get more adderall?)."

A responsible one? It is not good to take any drug on a daily basis and then abruptly stop taking it. You said he was a bright stand up kid. Again though you're forming opinions on matters that you have limited information on, and limited understanding of. This is a demonstration of conformation bias.

"Nobody is paying any attention to these two kids and they are pretty much self-prescribing their adderall dosage and the MD and parents don't care."

Are you really so diluted to think that parents and doctors don't care about the people they're attending to? That YOU'RE somehow the knight in shining armor out to save all of these helpless children and adults (college student). I am a factual person so I will admit that there are parents and doctors that are crappy, but to assert that the majority (which would have to be the case) don't care is out right offensive to the doctors who have spent their entire lives dedicated to helping others, and to the parents that are just doing everything they can to give the best to their child.

Why don't you go get a PhD in medicine or a PhD in pharmacology, or a PhD in biochemistry so then your opinion would matter. Because right now you have formed all of these opinions (albeit probably with the best of intentions) that are flat out incorrect. Never the less if you run around perpetuating this false understanding of biochemistry, and biology you will undoubtedly sway someone's opinion and you could be the reason someone gets hurt. If you want to help people in this field get educated in it. This is not something that you can contribute to without a detailed understanding of the processes in play.

I will gladly listen to anything you have to say in response, but please note that any claims you make that lack citation will be flat out ignored. I would expect the same from anyone else when reading something such as this. I implore you to not spread your opinion around without going to school first.

(1)Westfall DP, Westfall TC (2010). "Miscellaneous Sympathomimetic Agonists". In Brunton LL, Chabner BA, Knollmann BC. Goodman & Gilman's Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics (12th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 9780071624428.

(2)Lewin AH, Miller GM, Gilmour B (December 2011). "Trace amine-associated receptor 1 is a stereoselective binding site for compounds in the amphetamine class". Bioorg. Med. Chem. 19 (23): 7044–7048. doi:10.1016/j.bmc.2011.10.007. PMC 3236098. PMID 22037049.

(3)Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume 40, Issue 5 , Pages 525-529, May 2001

(4)The Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 147, Issue 3, September 2005, Pages 348–354

(5)Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, Volume 75, Number 4, April 2004 , pp. 370-371(2)

(6) "Go-Pills: A war on drugs; airforce use of amphetamines raises questions" NBCnews, Jan 9th 2003, Article by Jon Bonne

(7) "This is Your Military on Drugs
In today's armed forces, performance-enhancing drugs are as common (and legal) as combat boots" New Republic, February 5th 2013, Article by Katie Drummond

Serendip Visitor's picture

I am not a college student

I am not a college student but a 39 year old female whose life has been ruined by an Adderall addiction. For one, I truly do have ADHD. I was legally prescribed Adderall. I took it as prescribed for 1-2 years. I then decided it wasn't working so I took it upon myself to increase my dose. I was working as a medical assistant at the time and took pre signed prescriptions and wrote myself more adderall. I was caught and am now going through the legal process. I was originally facing 4 felony charges but plead down to 2. I will be sentenced next month and face 5 years in prison. I know that I am the exception to the norm but before anyone wants an "edge" in life, think of if it's really worth it.

Serendip Visitor's picture


That was THE greatest response. I appreciate your research and proof of sources and agree that it is very much needed if someone is going to try to prove a point, which you did perfectly. Glad that I found myself on this page. I was informed of a lot and it helped a great deal! So thank you!

High school student's picture

Student biochemist

You're awesome man, I'm with you 100%.
I think it's awesome how all these people want to hate on you cause they have not even half of your knowledge and for simply being correct. I just read all the comments and I cannot find anyone with grammar errors or signs that you have steered off topic.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Re: Please Let Me Correct You

OMG! That was amazing! I am a 46 year old mother/grandmother, work in Law Enforcement and was diagnosed ADHD at age of 22. One of my Sons was diagnosed at four (23 now).
Over the years I have been on almost every concoction avaliable, MINUS taking Desoxyn!
I recently (January 2014) was put BACK on Adderall IR after taking Dextroamphetamine for the previous three years. The
next or final option medically and statistically was the Desoxyn. I just hate to go there. Anyone who suffers from ADHD/ADD and has hypersensitivity to medications will completely understand. So as my Doctor and I WORKED TOGETHER, I remembered Adderall had worked the best years ago and I tolerated it well for a good five+ years. So we agreed to give it another try. So far so good.

I have learned over the years, doctors are very busy with several patients, possibly too many caseloads to just rely on their every word. No disrespect intended there. But as a patient and a mother IT IS also MY responsibility to do 90% of my health! They can take the other 10%. When my doctor ONE time suggested I try "breaking" my Med in HALF, when it was an SR. Well
lets just say from that moment forward I knew researching/investigating any future medicine charnge was crucial! Take some responsibility for myself and my son! So many patients, so many meds. I wanted to help her help me! Thank goodness we have an amazing Doctor/Patient relationship!

Iwas shocked and appalled by the guest from 28 February. Nothing did I find to be accurate from all the research I'd ever done and I do Investigations for a living. So I quite confident in my research abilities. And not to mention my knowledge of DEA /Narcotics. She most certainly sounded legitimate enough without citation to convince some to believe her and cause an individual irreparable harm or anguish that's undeserving. I agree she needs to get some sort of Pharmacology/Doctrine Degree before returning with her propaganda.
And if what she indicated about her neighbors is accurate. First of all, it's not her story to tell. Especially in such what
appears to have such angry, hostile undertones?

Personally Not Professionally, I got the feeling She herself couldn't or hasn't been able to get her OWN prescription or anymore samples lets say from the neighbors and has been reading this forum
and she is frustrated! Very Frustrated but Not Educated.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Academic slap to the face

Adderall is what I'll be starting on shortly, so I've been doing research on it. I have ADHD and it's not that I cannot handle my classes, it's that I'm unable to focus for more than 5 minutes with on anything let alone my major. I am in incapable of fixing this myself, and people need to realize that. I think her college kid anecdote was a bit of a stretch. "He called home for more Adderall during the holidays.", when you're away at college and under mom and dad's insurance you have to go through them. Holidays are the only time you have free, because you're not running home between a mid-term and a final because that final is comprehensive and that leaves no time unless you're a savant.

Anyway, that's a long winded "Thanks for the post!".

Serendip Visitor's picture


love that in your sources. professional.
jk not serious. still a great article.

Serendip Visitor's picture


Wow, Mr COLLEGE STUDENT Biochemist (Student is in his/her posting name) is reaching name calling to defend his point....could that be the Adderall talking? Most sane & rational people who are college educated let their debating skills and facts do the talking, not witless comments having no place in an argument. I guess my question to you is: Why, since our discussion has taken a number of posts, have you hidden your credits? My guess is that you are not very good at your profession and are somewhat ashamed of it and your performance in it - to the point that you are stooping from your Almighty Science Profession to debating mere mortals like myself......and losing badly in fact.

Before going further I have found that your entire recent posts have strayed away from ADDERALL completely. You are exclusively talking about dextroamphedamine and permutations that you have decided, in your head alone, are the same as Adderall....which they are not. Just wanted to bring that up because you have strayed 100% off target and made it a personal battle of your (questionable) credentials to discuss this. Arrogance is a very false and lying partner to have in a discussion.

Enough pandering to an over-arrogant middle school science teacher. On to the facts, one by one.

Your Google concerning 'go pills' seems to point to Wikipedia first. Wikipedia is a user-written encyclopedia....anyone can post to credentials....minimal if any fact-checking, more like spell-checking so there is absolutely zero credibility in that source. Even so, and I'll give you credit for being able to navigate a search engine to find stuff, Wiki references Dextroamphetamine which is not Adderall at all. If it were it would be much easier and clearer to just call it Adderall. Also, note that there are no references included for that verification or backup or link to any facts - this kind of opinion is often found in Wiki where whomever wrote it has no proof except what he thinks - sort of like you! And, as stated in my last post, dextroamphetamine, in two separate combinations, makes up only 50% of Adderall. AMPHETAMINE combinations make up the other 50%. Mr I wrong here? Or, as in many of your statements, have you 'selectively included' bits of information that support your point while ignoring the rest? It is a common tactic of politicians and attorneys and is a very close kin of blantant lying....just saying I would find it hard to believe that a man of science like yourself would do such a shabby job of research before posting results. So, it seems you are not really talking about Adderall at all (no pun intended) but you have, in fact, lost that argument and are trying to change direction to support some other chemical.

ALL OF THE REST of the articles about this topic i have read have three points in common: 1)none mention Adderall by name or by chemical composition, 2) All of the articles seem to be older than 2003 which is pretty old stuff, and 3) all articles seem to indicate that the military DOES NOT SUPPORT the use of drugs for sleep deprivation, hoping instead to manage pilots sleep and flight times to ensure proper alertness (and some call this 'false alertness') while in the air. I find no proof, only allegations that the military would encourage the use of drugs - if you could add a FACT here I would be astounded. Oh, here's one of the URL's I am using for my comments: ( h t t p : / / w w w . n b c n e w s . c o m / i d / 3 0 7 1 7 8 9 / .....note, i cleverly included spaces to keep this site from banning pointing out URL' can figure it out - although, to support your point of view you blamed lack of facts on this website.....again sounding like 'no facts, just what I think') Here is a quote from the article: "Earlier this month, two Air National Guard pilots who mistakenly bombed Canadian troops during an F-16 flight over Afghanistan last year, claimed the “go pills” they took before the mission impaired their judgment. Lawyers for the two airmen, Maj. Harry Schmidt and Maj. William Umbach, contend the military pressured their clients to take the go pills — as the prescription amphetamine Dexedrine is called in the military". Doesn't sound to me like the military is a big supporter of this and note, these pilots are in court with, presumably, their careers at stake. A side point, they do not mention ADDERALL or Dextroamphedamine - which are the cornerstones of your say nothing of the dosages involved....... very shabby research on your part......and an even shabbier accusation of my knowledge of and understanding of the matter though....I consider the source. Oops, I got off point....sorry, If i didn't know better i'd say i might be taking adderall :-)

OK, so where we're at now is that You are not even talking about ADDERALL've left that subject and moved into areas that are immaterial to this discussion. And, I noted in rereading your posts since the beginning you have constantly gone back and forth saying in one post: "Adderall is not Addictive" and in another "Adderall is mildly Addictive".....which is it? And, doesn't the level of addiction depend quite a bit on how much and how often it's being taken? But again I am off topic debating a 'man of science'....who both distorts facts and outright lies to make his points.

Oh, this is a nit but since you seem to be having to reach very far to justify your are right on Desbutol not being a drug.....and nebutyl being one.... Wrong on the point that Desbutol is, in fact, at least 2 drugs....Yellow is desbutyl is the upper half and nebutyl is the depressent half. Again, just a nit, but you brought it up.....another case of you discussing some facts but ignoring others....did I call that lying before? Well, I guess I did!

Next point: You spent paragraphs telling un unenlightened amateurs that changing one molecule of a chain totally changes the makeup of drugs (methamphedamine and whatever....blah...blah...blah.... I admit I do not want to spend the time refuting what you say and probably proving again that your use of facts in an argument is rather, I'll agee with you). BUT, THEN YOU GO ON TO SAY IT IS EASY TO CHANGE A MOLECULE AND ESSENTIALLY HAVE THE SAME CHEMICAL???? You use sodium and potassium for that argument....both are essentially salt. So mr science, which is it? Sounds to me that you twist facts to support whichever side of the argument you want.... Change a Meth molecule and you have Estacy.....totally different? Change a Sodium molecule and you have Potassium? Quite the same..... shoddy argumentation i think...too much science and not enough english, debate and logic classes in you illustrious academic career......

Anyway, the rest of your arguments are the same....your opinions backed up by flawed 'facts' and blatant distortion of the truth and I'm bored with your sly and dishonest tactics. Lives and careers of real people can be at stake here and you take a cavalier attitued toward drugs....just what I did when I was in my teens and early twenties) I do not have as much education as you do in straight line chemistry but I know a fabricator when I see one. You're one and it's pointless arguing with someone like that, particularly with the false arrogance most people in academia have. So, give adderall to your kids, wait and watch, and the truth will bear out over time. I bet you'll be much more careful with them than you are with the people reading you posts on this site. It's not about winning an argument (as you clearly think it is). It is about what is BEST for the health of those asking the questions.

College student biochemist's picture

"Why, since our discussion

"Why, since our discussion has taken a number of posts, have you hidden your credits?"

I'm not sure what you're referring to. Every post I have made has had "student biochemist" in it.

"Before going further I have found that your entire recent posts have strayed away from ADDERALL completely. You are exclusively talking about dextroamphedamine and permutations that you have decided, in your head alone, are the same as Adderall....which they are not."

I'm getting rather frustrated having to explain what an enantiomer is as your lack of understanding it is a huge part of your argument. Adderall is a 3:1 dextro/levo amphetamine salt mixture. It is the same exact molecule except for it's biologically activity. They are enantiomers which literally means mirror image. An example would be write out some words and read them, then read them out of a mirror. They are the same exact words, same order, same everything except mirrored. In amphetamine the NH2 group facing downwards (called an amine group) does not literally point downwards - it is 3 dimensional. It will either be coming out of the page towards you (dextro) or away from the page (levo). If you synthesize amphetamine no matter how you synthesize it you will end up with a 50:50 mixture of dextro/levo ampehtamine. This is called a racemic mixture, and it is essentially unavoidable. They are the same drug the only in vivo difference is the potency due to how it binds with the receptor. Kind of like having a key to a hole that you have to jiggle to open vs a key that opens the door very easily. The first one fits just fine (levo), but it isn't as ideal as the key that fits perfect (dextro). There is also dextro/levo methamphetamine but the distinction is not made as frequently for whatever reason. Methamphetamine will ALWAYS be dextro or levo. Amphetamine will always be dextro or levo. They are exactly the same molecule, but the potency differs due to site binding.

So when I focus of dextroamphetamine it makes no difference. Adderall is 3/4ths dextroamphetamine, and 1/4th levoamphetamine. They both have the EXACT same effects with the levo enantiomer being 3-4x less biologically active. The distinction is irrelevant because if I took more levoamphetamine it would be exactly the same as dextroamphetamine, and vice versa.

"Even so, and I'll give you credit for being able to navigate a search engine to find stuff, Wiki references Dextroamphetamine which is not Adderall at all. If it were it would be much easier and clearer to just call it Adderall."

Did you bother Googling it? You're right wikipedia is not credible but if wikipedia claims something then it warrants further investigation. You're right though they give the pilots an optically pure form of adderall. Because adderall contains 1/4th levoamphetamine it is not optically pure and is less potent. The distinction is still irrelevant as I indicated above.

"And, as stated in my last post, dextroamphetamine, in two separate combinations, makes up only 50% of Adderall. AMPHETAMINE combinations make up the other 50%. Mr I wrong here?"

Yes you are quite wrong.

"A side point, they do not mention ADDERALL or Dextroamphedamine - which are the cornerstones of your argument"

Your fundamental lack of understanding of this entire topic makes being right impossible. I am wasting my time having to explain things that any person competent in the matter would know. You're right they give the pilots Dexadrin which is pure dextroamphetamine rather than the less potent form adderall with contains 1/4th of the amphetamine enantiomer levoamphetamine. You are getting hung up on the pharmaceutical drug name rather than focusing on the active ingredients. If you get generic adderall it's not called adderall but it still contains a 3:1 mixture of dextro/levo amphetamine. No academic paper will refer to adderall or dexadrine - they will refer to the active ingredients.

"Adderall is not Addictive" and in another "Adderall is mildly Addictive"

You're right - I will clarify. The amphetamine enantiomers taken at prescribed doses does not lead to physical dependence. This means if you stop taking it you will not get sick, have hot flashes or go through any of the other withdrawals that say a heroin addict would. Physical dependence of amphetamine at prescribed doses is the only relevant matter.

"Wrong on the point that Desbutol is, in fact, at least 2 drugs..."

You spelled Desbutol differently this time than last time and I was unable to look it up with the incorrect spelling. Either way it is irrelevant because it was discontinued. nebutyl does not turn anything up on google.

" BUT, THEN YOU GO ON TO SAY IT IS EASY TO CHANGE A MOLECULE AND ESSENTIALLY HAVE THE SAME CHEMICAL???? You use sodium and potassium for that argument....both are essentially salt. So mr science, which is it?"

Again this entire paragraph would not have been written if you had a working understanding of chemistry. I'm not really sure what the caps part is referring to specifically but I will guess you are talking about dextro vs levo? They are enantiomers of the same molecule. The sodium and potassium thing has to do with context definition of a word. The person that my comment was responding to used the ionic bonding between to atoms (potassium & sodium with chloride) as an analogy for how the amphetamine molecule (not just two elements), and the methamphetamine molecule are the same thing just like potassium chloride and sodium chloride are salt. This is similar to me using the words rock (hard mineral deposit), and rock (music genre) interchangeably. Both are NOT essentially salt - they are both SALTS which is a chemistry term Sodium bromide is a salt, potassium iodide is a salt. They are not all TABLE SALT which is exclusively sodium chloride. Though you can buy the table salt substitute KCl if you want - it doesn't really taste like NaCl though. Either way the whole point was the analogy the person used was garbage and should not be taken seriously.

" Change a Meth molecule and you have Estacy.....totally different? Change a Sodium molecule and you have Potassium? "

Yes if you change the molecules (meth meaning methyl group which is an entire molecules comprised of 1 carbon atom and 3 hydrogen atoms.) around on a compound you get vastly different effects. This is to demonstrate that the amphetamine molecule lacking in a methyl group is quite different than one with it. Sodium and Potassium are ELEMENTS of the same type - they are both alkaline metals and they react similarly. Elements in the same column act similarly. You can not use how two elements interact to make any relevant assumption about how an entire molecule consisting of MANY elements acts. Even further table salt or any of the salts I listed are NOT biologically active. Just because a fruit flavored candy tastes like a real fruit does not mean it is made of the same stuff. Food is not biologically active - meaning it doesn't bind with receptors in your brain causing changes in your physiology. Again demonstrating that the analogy of salts and drugs is a stupid one. Aside from that a salt is composed of two ionic compounds bonding versus two covalent bonding atoms. The difference is similar to using magnets to hold something together vs welding two things together.

"Quite the same..... shoddy argumentation i think...too much science and not enough english, debate and logic classes in you illustrious academic career......"

Look in a polite way I am essentially arguing about physics with a child. There is no way to articulate complex information that you learn over the course of years to someone with no prior knowledge of the subject. You're nit picking and tearing apart things that you think are me lying or distorting truth but it is you not knowing what I'm talking about. I really don't mean that it a rude way even though I am fed up with this conversation. I haven't made a single change to my argument in this post - I have just written an essay explaining how everything I have said actually ties together. Something I would not have had to explain if you were knowledgeable in the subject.

I will continue the conversation with you but you need to refute my points with citations to scientific publications. Please stop trying to find 'disconnects' in my argument because you're wasting my time and your time. An example being that you thought there was significance in the difference between dextro & levo amphetamine or the patented pharmaceutical names.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Personal battle between 'biochemist' and 'guest' gets personal

I've been watching this string of debate between two people about the use of Adderall and thought I'd comment after this one since it seems to have gotten personal.

Seems to me the perspective of the 'college student biochemist' who has come out of the closet to defend his credentials has a lot of merit based solely on laboratory analysis. But there are some flaws here: The biggest is that he has changed the parameters of his argument from Adderall to Dextroamphedamine with his last post. He makes the argument about the military using 'go-pills'. Adderall is not the 'go-pill' described, it is only Dextroamphedamine. I looked on Wikipedia and the chemical make-up of adderall is right there. So the comment has veered way off course. I think this person has decided to win his argument with 'guest' and doesn't care anymore about helping the people on this blog asking for information. This person has said he uses adderall and sees no ill effects from it.

'Guest' on the other hand appears to have tried to stay on course with disseminating information about what he knows about both 'speed' and 'adderall' but has also lost sight of the purpose of this blog. He attacked the credibility of Mr. Student Biochemist in his last response and did not offer any additional information to help the majority of people out here looking for answers. Too bad because at the beginning of their discussion a lot of valid points were made. I think that this guy is passionate about his stance on this subject. He says he used a lot of speed in the past and that adderall has many of the properties of speed.

If both of these commenters could get back to their original focus there would be a solid sharing of information. For the time being I am going to stop reading both of their comments.....they've turned into a "I want to win" vs "I want to help the readers" debate and it is worthless for the question of Adderall usage.

yggdrasilyte's picture


The problem is one person is scientifically literate and the other is not. Student Biochemist may come across a bit condescending but the fact remains that they have supplied paragraphs of evidence to support their examples. Any high school chem student could discern the information provided by that poster. The underlying issue is what some of you will accept as true. A fundamental understanding of chem would be enough to validate the differences between their argument and its obvious who knows what they are talking about. If biochemists tone irritates you then just try to filter the attitude. Also, it would probably be best not to rebut the science by muddying what you disagree with into semantics. Science does not care who wins an argument.

College student biochemist's picture

"The biggest is that he has

"The biggest is that he has changed the parameters of his argument from Adderall to Dextroamphedamine with his last post. He makes the argument about the military using 'go-pills'. Adderall is not the 'go-pill' described, it is only Dextroamphedamine. I looked on Wikipedia and the chemical make-up of adderall is right there. So the comment has veered way off course. "

I have not veered off course. I have assumed too many things are common knowledge or established facts. Please refer to my comment in response to the person you responded to. Adderall is a trade name not a molecule. Dextroamphetamine is the molecule, and levoamphetamine is an enantiomer in adderall, but they are both the amphetamine molecule. The distinction is not that of another drug.

Random Visitor 's picture


I just started to follow this thread, and college student biochemist is a very interesting fellow. My personal experience with Amphetamine sulfate with the mix (76% d-amphetamine and 24% l-amphetamine) sold as "Adderall" was a good one.

It absolutely pains me to read this from a third perspective because this student is actually correct, and knowledgeable in the subject when everyone else is bashing him without actual context, or evidence to support their claim.

As far as actually taking Amphetamine sulfate myself, I was diagnosed with severe ADHD/ ADD through an IVA test. As far as the test results go, I am only 80% sure that I took it properly, rather I may have faked the results in order to receive a prescription for this substance. Back to my experience, taking Amphetamine has made me calm down and relax. I was already a high functioning student prior to being tested so this was the final push to take me from what I was to before to an exceptional student. Although this may seem like a post showing someone take Adderall to become smart, or better, I am just trying to show that if you REALLY do have ADHD or ADD it will create positive benefits in your life. (Although I'm not 100% sure that I have ADHD myself)

The long term effects are unknown to me as I have only been taking Amphetamine for a month and previously I was taking Methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin) for about 2 months.

Health Animated's picture


Like any other medications, Adderall has safety concerns, especially when used inappropriately. For information regarding Adderall and it's effects, check out our video on "Adderall: Can It Boost Your GPA?"

Serendip Visitor's picture

makes me so upset

you know I can sort of understand why some one would put meds for add in the same category as speed but really its nothing like it trust me I know when I was growing up I have experienced with a lot and im not edgy or irritated some one said its not the drug its the person im not picking at my face and losing sleep I don't even take it everyday and when Im not on it my mind is actually processing on its own its like training my brain please people this is a real jacked up thing to have in todays society it doesn't matter if you sit in front of the class everyone else is getting what the teacher is saying and your still trying to figure out what it was you guys learned chapters ago not even the instructors care feels like us with add are being singled out if my mind were able to process like others since I was young I probly wouldn't be suffering from my actions my heart is for all with add its a pretty big deal we are actually smarter then the average Joe we just don't have what it takes to focus for a test or sit down and read so that we know what's going on in class

Serendip Visitor's picture

Good Point

Good point. The other thing that people fail to understand is that for those of us with ADD/ADHD the difficulties go far beyond not being able to pay attention in class. Without medication we often struggle to stay organized, multitask, or remember where we put things. Our short term memory sucks because we don't proses things the way normal people do. We are reactionary and impulsive. These factors have a bigger impact on our education and careers then failing to paying attention in class sometimes. Without medications we really can't perform many of the task that are expected of normal people. Yet at the same time many of us are very intelligent and dedicated people. I put in 3 times the effort of my friends without ADHD who pop addy to make the same A and they know that I am much smarter and recognize the extra effort that I put in, but they still want to argue that what they did is fair. If they spent a week in my shoes without medication then they would see why it is not.

Serendip Visitor's picture


The formatting and grammar of this paragraph is atrocious. No one can read this. How can you possibly thing posting something with absoultely NO periods will be taken seriously?

Serendip Visitor's picture

well as someone who has add

well as someone who has add i understand that it is very hard to pay attention it isnt even that i dont unerstand or cant comprehend its that my mind tends to wonder or think about something else. I am 17 i moved out at the age of 16, i was on my own for 6 months i graduated the same year two months after turning 17
i suffer from add but i graduated without meds granted i probably could have done better than a 71 on my asvab or a 2750 on my GED. my point is i am not quote un quote normal and adderall just gets me on the same level as everyone else. on another note i do have side effects such as weight loss,short temper,slight pain behind my eyes, weakness, hyper talking-seem to talk about the same things or sometimes not talking. nervousness and over thinking small things. i just need to know if this is a long term thing or not. i am new at this medication thing never really liked the idea of medds..

FrustratedPharmD's picture

Kids on this Crap

I receive and am required to fill scripts of adderall, vyvanse, concerta, ritalin, etc for patients as young 12 years old. I always manage not to tear up the script, but it still frustrates and upsets me to no end that someone's little eighth grader is going to have high amounts of dextroamp pumping through them.I wish I was able to step in- in many cases it is the age of the child vs an actual condition that causes symptoms similar to ADD to appear, resulting in the false diagnosis. I see it everyday. Schedule/control 2 medications, which include adderall, percocet, morphine aka high addiction risk, are easier to obtain than ever, whether it be from peers or your doctor. You know the situation is frightening when children are able to take this stuff legally.

Jason's picture

I was a child with ADD

I have had ADD my entire life. I am 29 and now relatively successful. But getting through school, especially middle and high school was hell. Imagine sitting down to work and literally being unable to keep a single train of thought for more than 10-30 seconds. Listening to lectures caused me huge amounts of anxiety because I couldn't listen - After a few minutes I'd just start fidgeting and feeling impatient and distracted. I tried everything, I tried clearing out all visual distractions, listening to classical, listening to nothing, hard chairs, short breaks, nothing worked.
When I was 22 I was diagnosed with ADD and began to receive medication. It changed my life. I am so much happier and more peaceful. It was like having hobbles and suddenly they were removed. I had a real disability that is treated with adderall, and I am so grateful for the treatment.
Are kids overdiagnosed? Probably - I can imagine parents tired of their kids acting like kids exaggerating their children's symptoms. But if I had been treated when I was 12 or 13 - I could have had a happier high school experience and avoid the frustrations of unmanaged ADD for years.

Serendip Visitor's picture

My record is 3 days without

My record is 3 days without sleeping.. Can anyone top that?

someusername's picture

82 hours

Yea my record, which I will not attempt to break, involved me staying up for 78 hours doing school work. I ended up fainting down a staircase and my hallmates carried me to my bed when the realized I didn't have a head injury.

@Serendip Visitor's picture

Yeah, Britney Spears topped

Yeah, Britney Spears topped that. She went 4 days without sleep and ended up being hospitalized and put in a conservatorship which is still in effect today.

EGBAR's picture


Jeez....most of the 'experts' on this site are kids (yep, includes you college students). Here's what Adderall is all about:

1) It's SPEED, period. Look up meth amhedamine to find how addictive it is and how bad it is for maintaining a healthy body. And, SURPRISE extremely addictive

2) It's called Adderall because 'SPEED' is no longer an accepted drug in our, the pharmaceutical companies and doctors (mainly shrinks, many/most of whom do not understand the consequences of this drug) have conveniently changed the name from "Speed" or METH" to the more socially acceptable 'Adderall'. Why has this happened and why has society allowed this name change to happen?......see #3 below.

3) Pharmaceutical companies and doctors/shrinks/quacks made TONS OF MONEY by selling METH AMPHETAMINE and don't want to stop that income flow (look up Abbott Labs DESOXYN, for example). So, one of the most accurate statements in our society is: "FOLLOW THE MONEY". Pharmaceutical Companies and many MD's give a damn about you or your kids or your health.....they and choosing to subscribe to the 'good' papers/studies/etc... about Adderall and are ignoring the ones that paint a much more realistic (unhealthy, dangerously addicting, bad/aggressive behavior, a bad crash and the need to up the dosage to continue to feel the high.

4) If you're a kid or a parent of a kid (or an adult taking this stuff recreationally) and have seen the need to 'UP THE DOSAGE' or have a 'crash' when you stop taking the drug then you are experiencing exactly what SPEED did and ADDERALL does.

College student biochemist's picture

If you took a high school chemistry class

If you took a high school chemistry class you'd know everything you said is flat out wrong. Methamphetamine is speed - adderall's main ingredient is dextroamphetamine. While they both fall under the umbrella of an amphetamine they are as similar as a panda bear, and a red panda. Molecules have incredibly different functions with very little variation. The addition of a methyl group to a molecule (i.e 'meth' in methamphetamine) can be the difference between a drug that wouldn't harm a mouse, and a drug that could put down a horse.

Dextroamphetamine (Adderall) is the enantiomer of the amphetamine molecule - it is one of the two stereoisomers. It is not methamphetamine plain and simple. They don't even go through the same metabolic processes.

However you can get methamphetamine prescribed to you. It has been approved by the FDA to treat ADD, but it is only marketed under one trade name Desoxyn. It is not well known, not prescribed often, and does not have any real advantage over any other ADD medication. It's potential for abuse also makes it an uncommon prescription.

It's fine that you're ignorant to this - I pay money to know about it. I am completely ignorant to the mathematics behind the Alcubierre drive that could facilitate faster than light travel. But I don't run around to physics forums pretending I know what I'm talking about.

I take adderall often - it is my favorite drug. It's about as addictive as pop is to fat people, and with 20mg of it I can read the most dense scientific literature with such enthusiasm.With how stupid, and lazy 90% of the country is they should all be taking it - maybe then they'd pick up a book, and stop watching Jersey shore or Fox News.

Serendip Visitor donna's picture

28 yr old son and adderall

Some say it helps and some say no it's just like speed... what if it is watched by a Doctor and taken as prescribed?... My son suffers from inability to concentrate and a dread feeling similar to depression... no motivation... He is thinking on trying this as directed to see if it will lift his mood and ability to function .... I am worried as i hear good and bad... Any advise? Thanks.

College student biochemist's picture

I'm rather surprised how many

I'm rather surprised how many people have contacted me through this site for advice on adderall.

Adderall is safe, it helps you concentrate, and encourages you to be more production. People that say it's just like speed have not tried speed nor do they understand chemistry. It's been given to people for non-medical reasons since it's advent. Everyone in WWII took it like candy. The U.S military still gives it to people - pilots take them under the name 'go pills'.

The safety of the pills is not really a topic of conversation because they are safe. The only discussion happening in the academic community in regards to the population taking adderall is one of ethics - not safety.

If your son is depressed take him to a doctor though - adderall does not really do anything for depression. It will make him productive, and give him the ability to concentrate, but that's about it. Adderall makes you perform better plain and simple. It takes whatever your 'bar' is, and increases it.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Well, per the above comment I

Well, per the above comment I have to respond directly: Adderall is not safe. I have used quite a bit of 'speed' in the past (a lot when I was a college student with a Biology Major and Chemistry Minor), understand its chemistry and understand it's effects on the brain, concentration, 'crashing' after its use and physical & psychological addiction forcing use.

ADDERALL (amphetamine salts) is a potent amphetamine psychostimulant and pharmaceutical drug. note: "AMPHETAMINE SALTS" and "PHARMACEUTICAL DRUG". California DEA classifies Adderall as "Schedule I" and The US Federal Government (DEA) classifies Adderall as "Schedule II" (this website explains the federal gov't classifications of drugs: . Here is what that means:

SCHEDULE I DRUGS, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

SCHEDULE II DRUGS, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are: cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, ADDERALL, and Ritalin

I am a veteran (Nuclear Submarine Navy).....The MILITARY DOES NOT GIVE ADDREALL TO ANYONE.....ANYONE. Wherever you obtained this information it is false. A pilot taking Adderall (and being caught, particularly when in command of an multi-million piece of military hardware) will be grounded, lose his commission, and face a military trial. His flying days are over, period. As probably is his chances of landing a job as a commercial pilot. I'm rather surprised that a college student (biochemist in training....get it're not a chemist of any type - you are a college STUDENT who thinks it is 'cool' to get the lift of this drug) would suggest anything different. Mr. Student-in-Training you think the Military would, under any circumstances allow it's members, pilots in particular, to use (in fact, to give them) this drug given how the government classifies it? You are fabricating an answer here to support your mistaken position on this drug.

For our 'student biochemist', here's what available Adderall is composed of: Amphetamine Aspartate (25%), Amphetamine Sulphate (25%), Dextroamphetamine Saccharate (25%), Dextroamphetamine Sulphate (25%).

Here are some other quotes from the DEA's website: "DEPENDENCY LEVEL: HIGH". "Tolerance is developed rapidly in amphetamine abuse; therefore, periods of extended use require increasing amounts of the drug in order to achieve the same effect"

Finally, my last comment on this post (which is turning into a somewhat protracted discussion of this drug) is that in a high percentage of studies, documents and posted papers the term 'methamphedamine' and 'adderall' start off as describing both drugs but soon collapse into one term: 'methamphedamine'. Different name, same drug, very similar effects, very similar symtoms and toxicity.

College student biochemist's picture

Valiant effort.

****I have removed the urls because for whatever reason this website's stupid spam filter keep banning my IP address when I try to reply****

You're really reaching for straws.. I'm not an undergraduate student you fool - I have a bachelors of science in molecular biology, and a bachelors of science in biochemistry, and I am performing federally funded biochemistry work and a university under the supervision of a team of PhDs. I am an actual biochemist and get money for being one. I'm a student for a couple more years until I receive a PhD in pharmacological drug design. So no matter how you slice the pie I have going on six years more knowledge of this topic that you do.

As for the pilots using amphetamine - maybe you should use Google before you go off on a huge rant about something easily verifiable .

"Dextroamphetamine is also widely used by military air forces as a 'go-pill' during fatigue-inducing mission profiles such as night-time bombing missions." From wikipedia/detroamphetamine

“It’s not that any pilot that takes amphetamines is going to get addicted,” says University of Michigan pharmacology professor Margaret Gnegy." From NBC news id/3071789/

"the Defense Department, which distributed millions of amphetamine tablets to troops during World War II, Vietnam and the Gulf War, soldiers on, insisting that they are not only harmless but beneficial."

" The need for speed, Demitry added "is a life-and-death issue for our military."
From an sfgate article/Go-pills-for-F-16-pilots-get-close-look-2687644

Shit looks like you were wrong on that one. They even use dexadrine instead of adderall which is more potent than adderall because it lacks the racemic levoamphetamine salt that is in adderall and not nearly as biologically active.

I love that you quote the DEA for drug information as if they have a clue. I don't know if you read that first paragraph that you copy and pasted or not, but in that paragraph is a schedule I drug called marijuana. It has no medical use, and a high potential for abuse according to the DEA. Funny I'm aware of at least two studies happening right now at my university in regards to the medical aspects of marijuana. Sounds like the DEA might not be the best source of information on the safety of a drug. And it is well established to not be chemically addictive. Now if I needed to know the federal law on a drug I'd go to them. If I want to know anything scientific or academic about a drug I would go to primary literature.. Which if you look at my above comments I quoted several primary literature sources from the scientists actually doing the research on these drugs. They all indicated a practically non-existent chemical dependence at non-recreational doses.

And to your final point this 'high percentage' of studies that talk about amphetamine, and methamphetamine interchangeably. As someone who is required to read primary literature almost daily I can assure you that a 'high percentage of studies' do not do that. How many studies on this topic do you read, and I mean actually read - not just glance at the freely accessible abstract. I ask because I would not read very many if I wasn't granted free access to them through my university - they are expensive. So I doubt you're paying money to read them, but I'll humor you.

In academia amphetamine is a class of molecule and an actual molecule. When describing the actual molecule the term dextro, levo, or racemic are always placed in front of amphetamine. Dextro being the right handed enantiomer, levo being the left handed enantiomer, and racemic being a combination. They interact with the body slightly differently and thus in any study will be explicitly mentioned as to which they're referring to. If they just say amphetamine then they are talking about the class of molecule. There are hundreds of types of amphetamine molecules, and just by changing a substituent you get a different one. For example if I add a couple methoxy groups to an amphetamine molecule such as what is found in 2,5-Dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine the result is a very potent hallucinogen similar to LSD, but it's still an amphetamine by class. Similarly attaching a bromine atom to the 5 position of an amphetamine molecule will make a drug used for depression.

I'm not sure why it is you think you know a lot about this topic or that you're fooling anyone. I've spent years of my life dedicated to learning about this topic, and while I openly acknowledge I am not a doctor it is ridiculous to think that you know more than I do on the topic if you haven't studied it. You can literally pick any topic go dedicate 5 years of your life to studying just it then go find some random person who has never studied it who knows more about the topic than you. You're very unlikely to find said person. I don't know how you can read that and just decide 'yeah, but I still know more than you because you're a student' completely ignoring that I've demonstrated competence on this subject, quoted sources to support my statements, and that I've studied this for years passionately.

You may know things, but you do not know dick about this topic.

Serendip Visitor's picture


you really blew it with your last post.....very ignorant, full of lies and half truths and clearly you have lost focus as to what we're talking about. Cut back on you own drug use (if you can.....and don't say "i could, but i don't want to") and you might be able to start making sense, stop lying, and stop embarassing your own chosen degrees and profession. You are such a loser - I'm done commenting to you because you are pretty much stuck on yourself (lots of academia and 'scientists' are like that) and have been so blinded that the thing you value most (scientific analysis and conclusions) have lost their way in your rants.

Eleri's picture


Alright so you think it's fine to take Adderall? Maybe you should consider how dangerous it really is. I'm a junior in college and realized I'm not only dependent on it now, but also addicted psychologically. Taking drugs not prescribed is stupid and irrisponsible. Learn from my mistakes: drug therapy isn't that much fun

College student biochemist's picture

Yes I think it is fine to

Yes I think it is fine to take adderall. Please provide primary literature to support your claim that it is addictive, and dangerous. If you're dependent on it then you are psychologically addicted to it unless you've been taking recreational doses of adderall very frequently. You have to be taking roughly +60mg/day before you would be in the realm of chemical dependence. You would not be prescribed +60mg/day. A chemical dependence means that you will experience negative physical symptoms if you stop taking it - i.e you get physically sick.

Your claims, and remarks are unfounded non-sense. It is also a stupid stance to take that a prescribed drug is somehow okay to consume as if it being prescribed is what makes it safe. There are literally hundreds of drugs that are incredibly NON-toxic, and would never hurt a person in even extreme doses that I would require a prescription for. Conversely there are hundreds of incredibly toxic drugs that I can get without a prescription. If you want to know whether or not a drug is harmful you search through the clinical trials and primary literature on it. Your objective experience is irrelevant to the discussion because all scientific data disagrees with you.

Here are primary literature sources showing that it is not addictive:

Here are primary literature sources showing that it is harmless even at high doses, and in fact invivo studies indicate that it has neurogenerative, and neuroprotective properties due to the CART protein encoded by the CARTPT gene.


Find primary literature to validate your point and I'll listen, but you're not going to find any good studies proving your point. I think it's okay to take adderall because it is scientifically been established to be relatively safe, and low risk drug. If I am going to fear this drug then I might as well not get in a car ever again because the risks of dying from that are exponentially greater. You being 'addicted' to it, and if effecting your life negatively says more about you than it does about the safety of the drug.

Serendip Visitor's picture

adderall being addictive

Everyone....lots of studies...blah....blah....blah. Methamphedamine got a bad name (justifiably so) so pharmaceutical companies had to do something to keep their 'cash cow' going......."follow the money" ..... it always works. So companies like Abbott Laboratories (desoxyn and desbutyl are two I am familiar with) and all the others with lots of money riding on these "Mood Elevators" still sell their name brands but made some very minor chemical changes to their drugs that does not change the effects of methamphedamine and got to rename it....ADDERALL! Look deeper into the studies you will find chemical companies, MD organizations, etc....who have a lot to lose are the ones funding these studies (and the paid for results).

I see everyone saying Adderall is 'mildly addictive' ????????? Addictive is such thing as mildly addictive. The 'college student' above is just that....a college student hooked on it who can write reams and reams of stuff supporting whatever position he wants.....bottom line is he takes it, says it's not addictive and he likes it, AND CANNOT QUIT, PERIOD. He says "I don't want to quit, but I can at any time if i wanted to".....RIGHT ... that's a pretty common point of view of addicted people everywhere......'I smoke, but I want to' , forget it. It's meth in another wrapper, that's all.

College student biochemist's picture

Your ignorance is painful.

Your ignorance is painful. First I am a college graduate student with a bachelors of science in biochemistry, and a second bachelors of science in molecular biology from a notable university. I am not an undergraduate student. I am paid money to conduct studies on the pharmacology of drugs under the supervision of PhDs. No matter how you cut the pie I have going on 6 years of knowledge on this topic. How much time have you spent studying this topic?.. A couple hours maybe?

Desbutyl is not a drug - Desoxyn is a drug, and it is methamphetamine which I said in my very first post. However it is not readily prescribed to people, and is in insignificant doses.

I don't know how many times I have to say this but METHamphetamine and DEXTRO/LEVO amphetamine are different molecules. Methamphetamine has a methyl group attached to the amine group. An amphetamine molecule does not. I know in your ignorance you believe this to not be significant, but you couldn't be more wrong. Amphetamine is a class of many molecules.

Here I can give you an example.. Lets take that methyl group from methamphetamine and place it on the 3 carbon with an oxygen on the amphetamine molecule so you have 3-methoxyamphetamine. Now you have a drug that acts like ecstasy instead of methamphetamine.

Not convinced? Lets take that methyl group and oxygen and move it down one carbon. Now you have para-methoxyamphetamine. Now you have an antidepressant.

Now lets get a little more complicated.. We will add a second methoxy group, and then throw in a bromine atom so you have 2,5-Dimethoxy-4-bromoamphetamine. Now you have one of the longest lasting hallucinogenic drugs known.

If you notice all of my examples are AMPHETAMINE molecules. Yet they all have really different effects with something as simple as adding the methyl group to methamphetamine.

Adderall is NOT methamphetamine, it is a 3:1 dextro/levo amphetamine mixture. It is mildly addictive which is a thing whether or not you think you can just ignore terms from medicine. Using your stupid reasoning coffee is just as addictive as methamphetamine. I bet you didn't know that caffeine is more chemically addicting than dextroamphetamine. You will experience more physical withdrawal from caffeine than prescribed doses of adderall.

I don't know if you studied philosophy at all (or even attended college for that matter), but your comment is riddled with informal fallacies. I know I'm not addicted to adderall, and that I can quit because on more than one occasion I've had to stop for a month or more. Just last year I called up my buddy because I was out and he told me he was going to be gone all summer. I can assure you I didn't even notice that I stopped taking them. You have no grounds, or basis for your assertions. You've brought nothing productive to the table, and cited no sources to support your idiotic claims. Then you brush off the studies I cite as if they're not valid because you say so - as if your bias and naive conjecture on the matter trumps peer reviewed scientific studies.

Go read science books for almost 6 years and then come talk to me.

Kristen's picture

Hey, I read your comment and

Hey, I read your comment and I was curious for your insight in particular and I'll explain why.

I'm 19 and I was recently prescribed Adderall to treat A.D.D.

But I was starting to have mixed feelings about this whole thing.
It seems like I'm in this mental debate as to whether I was wrongfully diagnosed and prescribed a highly addictive drug or I really have this disorder.
I've had a lot of trouble focusing in school pretty much my whole life, but in more of a daydreamy, quiet type of way.

Either way, it was my first time at that clinic and my first time meeting that doctor and she prescribed 20mg once a day, that day. At first, I felt excited to finally start organizing my life and completing high school to start college but then I realized it seemed all entirely easy to be diagnosed with A.D.D.
I explained my inability to focus and completed a short survey where I scaled my inattention and other symptoms from 0 to 5.
Right after that, she was writing out my prescription.
I've only tried one so far and it definitely helped me focus and I felt motivated, but after reading this thread and a lot of these responses, it seems like it does that for everyone -with or without ADHD/ADD.

And the more I read, it seems like the side effects that I had from Adderall lean towards me NOT having A.D.D.
Like 'crashing' and moodiness. But I've considered those to be normal when you first start the drug.
(but technically I did try Adderall when I was around 14 and I didn't know any better, my friend gave me a time released 30mg that kept me up for 48 hours. Then I wasn't considering that maybe a lower dosage and different intentions could help my life -I did notice my ability to focus while I was on it which it what made me consider it in the first place.)

I'm clearly confused about whether I truly need it because my brain is lacking hormones as stated in the article or if it has dramatically improved my basic skills because it's such an intense drug -which ultimately frightens me because I don't want to become addicted. But without addiction becoming an issue in this situation I was curious about the following

When you said you take Adderall often and that it's your favorite drug, I'm assuming that you don't take it every single day and that you don't need it on the daily basis which mean you technically don't have ADHD/ADD.
And it sounds like you're not against people taking it that don't have it, when you said you think more people should take it.
Is this because it's ultimately not harmful to your health?
Or is there a way to take it 'sometimes' and not become addicted?
Also, if you don't have ADD and DO take it everyday, is it addicting?

I responded to your comment because I didn't want the same
"if you don't have it, you shouldn't be taking it because it's addicting"
It seems like you're more open-minded towards this drug and I was looking for an open-minded or multi-scenario response if that makes any sense.

Thanks for taking the time out to read this.

College student biochemist's picture

I'm happy to answer, but I

I'm happy to answer, but I must note that even though I'm in school for this kind of thing I'm in no way more qualified than any doctor, and my advice can't outweigh the advice of a clinically certified MD. They have access to your medical records, years more experience, and tools designed to see if you match the DSM-IV criteria for ADD/ADHD diagnosis.

As far as scientific literature is concerned adderall is a relatively harmless drug with a low risk for addiction. If you follow your prescribed amount you will most likely have no adverse effects and have no problem with addiction. The main concern about people taking it who don't have ADD/ADHD is one of ethics, and not one of medical safety. People consider it to be synonymous with doing something such as taking steroids in a sport which again is a matter of ethics rather than medical safety (that's a different discussion though).

If you are having trouble focusing in school then I would say you only have benefits to gain from being prescribed it. With few exceptions most people only have things to gain from it. Assuming you are in college or off to college you will be glad to have it. Ultimately there is no realistic way for you to determine if you actually need it on a biochemical level.

As I said though it is relatively harmless, and non-addictive. You probably consume much more addictive (caffeine) and harmful (alcohol) substances all the time.

As far as I'm concerned - no I don't take it everyday, but I take it most days. I have a ridiculous work, and school load that I'd never be capable of doing without adderall. I've been taking it almost everyday for probably 3 years. Because I don't have a prescription there have been times when the person I usually get it from has been unable to supply to me. This has left me without any for a month or two. I have never had any uncontrollable desire to have more (i.e no addiction).

There is unfortunately quite a bit of misinformation on the internet if you're not looking at a .gov website or searching through primary literature (scientific publications) then I would personally disregard it. Adderall has a lot of ignorant people against it without any basis for being against it. Much like the people that believe vaccinations cause autism even though there is no data to suggest anything of the sort.

All in all I would not be concerned with your prescription, and think that you should enjoy the leg up it will give you academically.

John 's picture

Can Adderall boost GPA?

HI everyone. We are a small team of students that want to disseminate relevant, engaging health care information. Here's our very first pilot video: “Can Adderall boost your GPA?” We hope that this answers your questions. Feel free to leave a comment as well.