Adderall (generic name: amphetamine) and methamphetamine (also known as meth) belong to the same class of drugs known as amphetamines. Adderall is a prescription drug containing 4 salts of amphetamine or a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Meth is a highly addictive illicit drug also known as crystal meth, ice, or chalk that released high amounts of dopamine into your system.
Both Adderall and methamphetamine belong to the amphetamine class of drugs, and thus they have similar chemical structures when push comes to shove. In short, they’re both stimulants capable of increasing your alertness and dopamine levels but at the cost of high addiction risk and the same dangerous side effects.
With that in mind, how similar are they with each other? What are their differences? Keep on reading to find out!
Meth and Adderall Comparison Chart
Here’s the lowdown on meth and Adderall in chart form. They’re mostly similar to each other in effects but meth has more method of dosage forms and is also illegal to use. Adderall, meanwhile, is more readily available to those who suffer from ADHD and narcolepsy.
|Class of Drug
Method of Dosage
|Amphetamine Family (Stimulant)
|Schedule II (Legal Drug)
|Swallowed, Injected, Snorted
|Black Beauties, Beans, Addy
|Stroke, Heart Attack, Fever, High Blood Pressure, Irregular Heartbeat, Low Appetite
|Amphetamine Family (Stimulant)
|Schedule II (Illicit Drug)
|Crystal, Powder, Pill
|Swallowed, Smoked, Injected, Snorted
|Ice, Crystal, Glass, Chalk
|Stroke, Heart Attack, Fever, High Blood Pressure, Irregular Heartbeat, Low Appetite
Is Adderall the Same as Meth?
Over the last two decades, headlines around the globe have shown that meth addiction is growing in epidemic proportions. Media hype aside, methamphetamine addiction causes side effects so damaging that it has become quite the feared and infamous drug in its own right.
Meanwhile, prescription drug addiction is also on the rise, which then made certain people concerned about the addiction potential of Adderall, a “relative” of meth that also belongs in the amphetamine family of stimulant drugs. Here are some of the things you need to know about about Adderall and meth:
- Pretty Much The Same Drug? According to Columbia University’s Dr. Carl Hart—an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology as well as specialist in addiction and substance abuse—Adderall and meth are essentially and functionally the same drug.
There are key differences between them, sure, but his point is that Adderall can be as dangerous if not more so as meth when it comes to addictiveness. However, unregulated meth manufacturing has led to it becoming more potent than its FDA-approved counterpart.
- Related But Not The Same: In certain aspects, Adderall is the same as meth, particularly when it comes to their shared overdose symptoms and side effects. They’re both stimulants and amphetamines.
However, their differences should also be taken note of. Adderall is legal and prescribed. You’re less likely to face jail time when caught using Adderall. They have similar—amphetamine and methamphetamine—names because both drugs incorporate the same base chemical.
- They’re Cousins: The University of Buffalo’s Director of the Center for Health Outcomes, Pharmacoinformatics and Epidemiology is Dr. Edward Bednarczyk. According to him, meth—specifically crystal meth—is among the most addictive of the amphetamine isomers in the amphetamine family of drugs.
He also refers Adderall and meth as cousins that belong in the same class of drugs. This explains why they do similar things. However, meth has proven itself more addictive and problematic in the streets, especially its illegal and unregulated forms. Even with prescription addiction, at least Adderall come in more controlled doses.
- The Dangers of Prescription Drugs: Just because Adderall is legal doesn’t mean it’s not as addictive or damaging as meth. Just because they’re prescribed to you don’t mean they’re automatically safe to abuse.
Sometimes, the fact that it’s a prescription drug makes those who take it less guarded or careful about overdosing, thinking that if the doctor prescribed it, then it’s automatically good for them.
- Direct vs. Indirect Stimulation: Another difference between the prescription drug Adderall and the illicit drug meth is all about stimulation. Adderall stimulates the central nervous system indirectly by activating the release of catecholamine while inhibiting their breakdown and storage.
In contrast, methamphetamine directly stimulates the postsynaptic catecholamine receptors instead. The differences in chemical structure in drugs like meth make it more potent than Adderall and other prescription amphetamines.
- The Difference Is All About Potency: Meth is more direct and thusly more potent than Adderall as far as dosage and abuse is concerned. Sure, there are legal or FDA-approved prescription versions of meth (like Desoxyn and Methedrine).
However, for the most part it’s most known as a recreational illegal drug that can land you in jail when you distribute or are in possession of it. This illicit version has a longer lasting effect on the central nervous system compared to the more indirect amphetamines or Adderall.
- Depends on The Type of Meth: There isn’t just one type of meth. Meth has a longer lasting effect and potency than Adderall because it has so many types and forms made available illegally in the streets. It might produce more toxic effects depending on what type of meth it is and where you got it.
Crystal meth is supposed to be as pure as meth can be, so it’s not as toxic but highly addictive and potent. Meanwhile, speed is made in backyard meth labs, so its toxicity and purity will vary from source to source.
The Effects of Adderall
As discussed above, Adderall has similar effects to its illicit counterpart and cousin. It’s “legal” prescription meth (putting aside actual prescription meth like Desoxyn and Methedrine). Even when you take the drug as prescribed by your doctor, it comes with negative side effects that are quite similar to the side effects of meth. Among these is an increased risk for addiction.
Naturally, taking Adderall for more than the prescribed dose or using it by injection, snorting, or chewing in order to get a stronger effect is not recommended. Abusing the drug could lead to an even higher risk of developing meth-grade addiction to the prescription drug. It can also result in serious negative side effects that are as potent as the primary effects you’re trying to wring out of the drug.
When Adderall is abused, it boosts energy and alertness on top of creating feelings of euphoria. This is noticeably the signature effect of its more illicit cousin, meth, and even cocaine.
Negative short-term side effects of Adderall include the following.
- Trouble sleeping
- Appetite suppression
- Unhealthy weight loss
- Feelings of restlessness
- Potentially dangerous cardiac issues
As for the adverse long-term side effects, they include the following.
Just like meth, Adderall carries with it a high addiction risk in terms of physical and psychological addiction. In other words, addicts might end up developing a tolerance to the prescription drug. If they stop using, they could also end up with withdrawal symptoms and psychological issues pertaining to Adderall dependence such as drug-seeking behavior.
The Effects of Meth
In regards to methamphetamine, it’s believed to be more potent than Adderall. As addictive and dangerous as the prescription amphetamine can get, it still has medically sanctioned uses.
Meth crosses the blood brain barrier in a rapid fashion. This produces an intense, quick high that includes feelings of invincibility and euphoria. The drug also increases your alertness and energy, like a more potent form of coffee. Again, the adverse effects of meth are similar to that of Adderall, but they’re potentially more dangerous when push comes to shove.
They include the following:
- Extreme paranoia
- Weight loss
- Memory loss
- Severe dental problems
- Increased distractibility
- Aggressive or violent behavior
- Deficits in thinking and motor skills
- Changes in brain structure and function
Street-grade meth is used and abused solely for recreational purposes or getting high. There are also concerns regarding lack of regulation, which means that different meth batches from different sources can vary in terms of potency, purity, and toxicity.
Is Adderall Stronger than Meth?
Comparing the strength of meth to Adderall is difficult to accomplish. You can avail of Adderall in extended-release and immediate-release pills. The pills come in as low as 5-milligram doses up to as high as 30-milligram doses. The potency of meth available on the streets is difficult to measure. Most users are unaware of how pure or strong street meth is, particularly crystal meth and the like.
- Variation of Meth Purity: Most street meth is mixed with other agents or chemicals to intentionally affect its potency. What’s more, not everyone can afford the purest meth anyway. Many “chemists” with their own meth labs aren’t going the “Breaking Bad” route of only going for the purest stuff out there. There is always a variable of unpredictability when it comes to meth potency since not all amateur meth labs are created equal.
- Concerns with Contaminants: Aside from potency concerns, meth users should also have concerns when it comes to contamination risk. These additional chemicals aren’t always present because of people wishing to spike the meth batch. Rather, it’s because of sloppy, amateurish chemistry from people making methamphetamine from their garage or basement in order to make a quick buck or several hundred.
- Different Methods of Abuse: How potent meth is or how strong it feels also depends on your method of dosage. It’s difficult to compare potency of the two drugs because not all people take meth by swallowing it. Crystal meth in particular involves smoking to get a hit. When smoked, the full force of methamphetamine is experienced in seconds. This is also the reason why some Adderall addicts elect to smoke crushed pills instead of ingesting them. Other methods of abuse include snorting or shooting meth, which also affect its potency.
- Too Many Factors Involved: As far as real life is concerned when compared to a lab with participants, it’s nearly impossible for drug abusers to compare Adderall strength to meth strength. When they say meth is stronger, a variety of factors ranging from toxicity to method of dosage might be at play here. This is different to researchers comparing the drugs in a more controlled setting, but it certainly helps that Adderall itself is prescribed in controlled doses versus how street meth is distributed.
- Studies Concerning Meth and Adderall Strength: There are few studies that have examined the effects of Adderall’s ingredients—dextroamphetamine and amphetamine—combined when compared to methamphetamine. However, the chemicals of dextroamphetamine, amphetamine, and methamphetamine have been compared individually. When therapeutically used, meth and Adderall have similar effects.
Is Meth More Dangerous than Adderall or Vice-Versa?
Desoxyn is a prescription drug that has meth as an active ingredient. It has medical applications, however limited, but like its fellow prescription drug Adderall, can be used for ADHD treatment. In controlled doses, both of the drugs are effective in focus improvement.
They have side effects still, but they’re relatively minor. They include the following:
- Dry mouth
- Appetite loss
When people abuse meth or Adderall, that’s when the really serious side effects come. If you manage to abuse Adderall as severely as meth, their adverse influences on your body tend to be similar or to overlap.
Both meth and Adderall can cause grave side effects, which includes the following:
- Heart attack
- Rapid heartbeat
- Trouble breathing
- High blood pressure
So which is more dangerous? Here’s the deal.
- Meth Comes from The Streets: Meth is more dangerous than Adderall when all is said and done because meth is street-purchased and no overseeing body is helping users control its dosage. Street meth like crystal meth is likelier to contain toxic impurities or mixed with unknown poisonous chemicals as well since meth purity varies from cook to cook or lab to lab.
- Street-Purchased Adderall Can Be Just as Unsafe: Adderall you’ve purchased from a drug dealer instead of a pharmacy and by prescription from a doctor can be just as risky to buy as “regular” street meth. Although you can tolerate one batch of Adderall pills, the next batch might impact you quite negatively or give you complications like a stroke or fatally higher blood pressure.
- Street Drugs Across The Board Are Dangerous: Street drugs, even prescription pills you’re buying off-prescription, have a “wild card” fill to them. They’re like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates—you’ll never know exactly what specific sort of drugs you’ll get. Street Adderall also has variability in potency like its meth counterpart, especially if they’ve been developed by a lab instead of bought off directly from a pharmacy then resold illegally.
- Long-Term Health Issues from Adderall and Meth: There are links to long-term health issues and meth as well. For example, being a meth abuser can result to getting infectious diseases or various mental health issues. Meth abuse can result in direct complications that can be fatal or indirect ones such as getting HIV through sharing needles. Adderall that’s abused as severely as meth can lead to long-term side effects similar to those found from its illicit counterpart.
Adderall and Meth Addiction Rehab
Although it’s rare for news outlets and rehab services to discuss Adderall addiction and abuse in the same light or with the sense of urgency as meth, it’s still meth’s cousin. The lack of negative attention shouldn’t fool you into thinking it’s less potent overall. Rather, its controlled dosages and controlled pharmaceutical manufacturing that help it avoid the toxicity and potency of street meth like crystal meth.
Some young people out there prescribed to Adderall might give in to temptation and abuse the drug. This could then lead to them having an addiction to the drug and feel lost regarding where to get help. Both Adderall and meth addiction can be life-threatening if they’re not treated post-haste. You should consult with your doctor in order to get to the nearest rehab possible if you believe you’ve developed an Adderall addiction. This goes double for meth addiction, naturally.
In a Nutshell
So how close to meth is Adderall? Naturally, meth and Adderall are both drug relatives that cause the same effects on the human body, with certain differences included. You can view them as cousins or siblings in terms of their similarities. However, they contain enough differences in terms of legal status and dosage to not necessarily be considered twins or clones of each other. The takeaway here is that Adderall has the potential to be as addictive as, if not more so than, meth.
They’re both stimulants capable of increasing your alertness and heart rate at the same time. However, in turn, both can cause far-reaching consequences and have addiction risks. Also, meth has many forms that are many times more potent than Adderall to boot.
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They—along with hospitable staff, professional therapists, and internationally certified doctors—will guide you towards sobriety even when faced with prescription drug addiction with Adderall or illicit drug addiction with crystal meth.