Adderall Vs. Meth | Similarities & Differences

Adderall and methamphetamine are similar substances from the amphetamine drug class. However, methamphetamine is stronger and more euphoric than Adderall with a higher potential for abuse, addiction, and long-term physical and mental consequences.

Adderall, a brand name stimulant medication containing a mixture of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine salts, and methamphetamine, a powerful stimulant drug often produced and sold illicitly, are similar in many ways.

However, these substances are also each chemically distinctive from the other and have divergent potencies, side-effects, uses, and risks.

Chemical Structure: Amphetamine Vs. Methamphetamine

The four types of amphetamine substances found in Adderall and methamphetamine are all classified as substituted-amphetamines.

This is a subclass of phenethylamine substances based on the amphetamine /alpha-methylphenethylamine molecule, and includes a wide range of substances which act as central nervous system stimulants. 

Many of these drugs have applications in medicine and/or are abused as illicit substances.

Methamphetamine, in particular, is a modification of the amphetamine template to include a methyl group consisting of a single carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms. This chemical difference gives the drug its name and also intensifies its effects on the human body.

Short-Term Physical & Mental Effects

When taken, Adderall and methamphetamine both stimulate the activity of certain neurotransmitters and hormones, especially dopamine and norepinephrine. 

This increased dopamine activity can be highly pleasurable and euphoric, and will likely increase physical and mental activity throughout the body while the drug is active.

The effects of Adderall can be felt in 30 minutes and last for around 5-7 hours, while Adderall XR (extended-release) lasts for 8-10 hours.

The effects of methamphetamine can be nearly instant and last from 6-12 hours depending on how the drug is used. 

And, the effects of meth tend to be even more pleasurable and overwhelming than Adderall, especially when illicit crystal meth is used through smoking, snorting, or injection.

Medical Uses

Both Adderall and methamphetamine, in the form of Desoxyn, are Schedule II controlled substances with medical uses, and are specifically approved to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

The drugs do this by increasing dopamine and other neurotransmitter levels in the brain to normal, functional levels. 

Adderall is often used by healthcare providers to treat ADHD and the sleep disorder narcolepsy, which is associated with daytime drowsiness and sleep attacks, while Desoxyn is reserved for treatment-resistant cases of ADHD or the treatment of certain types of obesity.

Common Side Effects

At therapeutic doses, both Adderall and Desoxyn are associated with potential side effects that may include:

  • reduced appetite and weight loss
  • dry mouth
  • stomach discomfort or pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure
  • nervousness
  • trouble sleeping

Other uncommon or serious side effects may also occur.

Substance Abuse Potential

Both Adderall and methamphetamine are frequently abused in Ohio, though often for different reasons.

Adderall and similar prescription stimulants, like Ritalin, are commonly diverted by adolescents and young adults in order to increase their academic or athletic performance, to lose weight, or to trigger a stimulant high.

Methamphetamine, on the other hand, is typically smoked, snorted, or injected recreationally by adults as a dangerous, euphoric, and highly addictive street drug.

While both substances can be addictive, methamphetamine is by far the more dangerous substance. Meth is all-consuming and has the potential to devastate physical and mental health, financial stability, relationships, and personalities in only a few months.

Long-Term Risks

Although certain risks do exist, those who take Adderall or Desoxyn as prescribed rarely become addicted or experience serious long-term issues.

Adderall and meth abuse, on the other hand, can lead to severe drug addiction and long-term issues including:

  • sleep dysfunction
  • impaired immune function
  • weight loss and malnutrition
  • organ damage
  • premature aging
  • severe tooth decay
  • breathing problems
  • heart problems and palpitations
  • unstable mood and mental state
  • depression
  • headaches
  • panic attacks
  • memory loss
  • psychosis
  • behavioral health problems
  • sudden death from stroke, heart attack, or seizure

Amphetamine Addiction Treatment Programs

Adderall and meth addiction are generally treated using the same methods but with varying treatment lengths and intensities.

Common treatment options include:

If you or a loved one are struggling with either meth use or prescription medication abuse, contact us today for information on our substance use disorder treatment programs.

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Methamphetamine-2020_0.pdf
  2. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2007/011522s040lbl.pdf
  3. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/005378s034lbl.pdf
  4. National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/pep20-06-01-001.pdf

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: August 11, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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