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The Molecular structure of adderall
  • Adderall is an amphetamine-based drug that is primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s used to increase concentration, working memory and to promote alertness. Adderall is also commonly misused as a study drug by students and young professionals seeking increased cognitive abilities with the ultimate aim of better productivity.

    The typical dose can be anywhere between 2.5 – 60 mg daily and is given 1-3 times a day.

    Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it is not an offence to consume or be under the influence of any controlled substances in the UK. However, possession and supply are both criminalised. The only instance in which it is not a criminal offence to possess Adderall is when you are prescribed the drug for medical purposes.

    In the UK, Adderall is a class B substance. Penalties for unlawful possession and supply can potentially be 5 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine, and up to 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine respectively.

    In the US, Adderall is licenced as a medication to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. However, it is not licenced in the UK. Although it is occasionally prescribed, this is not common practise under the NHS.

  • Adderall is taken in the form of a pill, usually either blue or orange. The extended-release version comes in a capsule.

    Adderall is consumed by oral ingestion. Its duration is between 4 -6 hours and peaks at around 90 minutes.

    It is typically available in tablets of 5mg, 7.5mg, 10mg, 12.5mg, 15mg, 20mg and 30mg strengths. It may also come in the form of an extended-release tablet of identical doses.

  • Adderall is a chemical compound that is made up of powerful blends of the amphetamine salts dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine, which are isomers of the original amphetamine molecule and come in a 3:1 ratio. The blend consists of the following: One-quarter racemic (d,l-)amphetamine aspartate monohydrate, one-quarter dextroamphetamine saccharin, one-quarter dextroamphetamine sulfate, and one-quarter racemic (d,l-)amphetamine sulfate

    Adderall is an amphetamine-based drug. Amphetamines exert their pharmacologic action by blocking the reuptake of noradrenaline (NA) and dopamine into presynaptic neurons, increasing the release of these into the extraneuronal space. Dextroamphetamine, acts peripherally by release and reuptake inhibition of the neurotransmitter’s acetylcholine and histamine but not glutamate via the VMAT2 transporter. Amphetamines release stores of NA and dopamine from nerve endings by opening the respective channels.

    Amphetamines also release stores of serotonin from synaptic vesicles. Like methylphenidate (Ritalin), amphetamines prevent the transporters for dopamine and NA from recycling them. These combined effects rapidly increase concentrations of dopamine and NA in the synaptic cleft, promoting nerve impulse transmission in neurons that have those receptors.

    Physiologically, Adderall increases bothheart rate and blood pressure. For most people however, these effects are modest.

    Adderall is detectable in the body following a number of different types of drug tests. The length of time that they are detectable for does, however, vary from test to test.

    • In the blood, Adderall is detectable up to 46 hours after use.

    • In urine, it is detectable for 72 hours after use.

    • In saliva, it is detectable for 20 to 50 hours after use.

    • In hair, it is detectable up to 3 months after use.

  • Adderall primarily works to increase concentration and general cognition. These effects are much greater in those with ADHD. There is evidence that Adderall can lead to improvement in attention performance, working memory and inhibitory control in healthy adults. A number of studies have demonstrated Adderall’s ability to enhance the cognition of adults with tests of problem solving and executive function. However, these effects are generally found to be quite modest.

    The effects of Adderall reach can be observed anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes after ingestion, and the peak concentration in the blood occurs at around 3 hours post-ingestion. The effects will last for between 4 and 6 hours for instant release, and around 8 hours for extended-release tablets.

  • Adderall is primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a common neurobehavioral disorder affecting between 3 and 7 per cent of school-aged children. In the majority of cases, ADHD persists into adulthood.

    The disorder results in delayed learning ability, impaired academic achievement and delayed maturation. Symptoms commonly include having trouble concentrating or completing simple of complex tasks, forgetfulness, hyperactivity, being easily distracted, impulsive behaviour and the inability to get along with others.

    Although it is rarely prescribed in the UK, its use for the treatment of ADHD in the US is widespread.

  • Short-term physiological effects include:

    • Decreased appetite

    • Involutory body movements

    • Hyperactivity

    • Jitteriness

    • Nausea

    • Itchy skin

    • Irregular heart rate

    • Hypertension

    • Headaches

    Possible long-term physiological effects:

    • Weight loss

    • Decreased appetite

    • Cardiomyopathy

    • Heart palpitation

    • Tachycardia

    • Elevated blood pressure

    • Fatigue

    Possible adverse psychological reactions:

    • Anxiety

    • Depression

    • Mood swings

    • Psychosis

    • Aggression

    • Sleep difficulties

    • Paranoia

    • Hallucinations

    To mitigate these risks, users should firstly speak to a medical professional before using Adderall. It will also be important to begin on a low dose to avoid unnecessary over-consumption of the drug. Lastly, users try to minimise the time which they are taking the drug, in order to avoid the potential of addiction and developing long-term adverse effects.

  • Adderall should not be used in persons who have not tried other psychotherapy before, have high blood pressure or any form of heart disease, are very nervous or have severe insomnia, have a history of addiction to drugs or alcohol, take monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or have Tourette syndrome, which is one of several chronic tic disorders

  • Generally, the combination of drugs should be avoided as much as possible unless specifically prescribed by a medical professional. See this chart for an overview of drug interaction of a wide range of illegal and legal drugs.

    With Adderall, the use of stimulants should be avoided. This is because Adderall is also a stimulant, and by combing it with another, it can exacerbate the potential for severe physiological and psychological adverse reactions.

    The use of Adderall should also be avoided when taken in conjunction with the following substances, as it may lead to additional, severe harms:

    • Duloxetine

    • Levothyroxine

    • Escitalopram

    • Omeprazole

    • Tramadol

    • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

    Alcohol and Adderall

    When taking Adderall, users should avoid the intake of alcohol. Adderall is a stimulant, whilst alcohol is a depressant. This means that the two drugs work to counteract each other. As a result, users might feel the need to take additional doses of each drug to obtain their desired effect. This could lead to increased adverse reactions. By drinking alcohol alongside taking Adderall, the negative symptoms of both drugs will also be exacerbated.

  • Like other amphetamines, users of Adderall can develop an addiction to the drug. This can also result in withdrawal symptoms such as paranoia, depression, difficulty breathing, dysphoria, gastric fluctuations and tiredness. These symptoms lead chronic users to re-dose frequently and as such increase the possibility of addiction. Someone who has a dependency on Adderall should never stop taking the drug abruptly, and instead needs to do so gradually and under medical supervision.

  • It is not harmful because it is produced by pharmaceutical companies.

    Research has shown that users of Adderall and similar substances do not consider it to be physically or psychologically harmful due to them being associated with instrumental pursuits of academic and productivity-related goals. This belief also stems from the fact that Adderall is produced, regulated and prescribed by the medical establishment.

    This is, however, a myth. Adderall can produce serious adverse effects such as various cardiovascular events, worsening mental illness, and even increase the risk of sudden death.


    It is only a stiff cup of coffee.

    Many users believe that Adderall is nothing more than a stiff cup of caffeinated-coffee. However, the drugs’ composites are much more serious than caffeine. Adderall is composed of different amphetamine salts that increase extracellular levels of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline. This myth is problematic because it minimises the seriousness of potential adverse reactions to Adderall.


    It makes you smarter.

    It is commonly believed that, by taking Adderall, the user can become instantly smarter. There is evidence that healthy adults may receive small to moderate cognitive benefits in the areas of working memory, response inhibition and processing speed. However, these effects do not automatically make the user smarter, but instead simply complement existing cognitive abilities. Furthermore, a lot of studies have found that these beneficial cognitive effects are only very modest. In fact, there is evidence that argues to the contrary, demonstrating that stimulant misuse is negatively correlated with academic functioning.


    If the user finds Adderall to be helpful, then they must have ADHD.

    As Adderall is primarily used to treat ADHD, users commonly believe that if they take Adderall and benefit from it in some way, then they must have ADHD. However, this occurs due to a misunderstanding as to what ADHD actually is. The disorder is often trivialised to being nothing more than the periodic inability to concentrate. ADHD is a lot more complicated than this however, and is additionality characterised by impulses and continual restlessness.

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