adderall and meth on table

Adderall vs. Meth: A Comprehensive Comparison

The topic of Adderall vs. meth is widely discussed and debated, drawing comparisons between the two. While there are similarities and differences between the two, it’s essential to understand the comparison to highlight the dangers of the recreational use of the drugs. By doing so, we can understand these drugs’ impact on individuals and the importance of responsible use while showcasing the medical uses.

This comprehensive comparison aims to explore the similarities and differences between Adderall and meth, diving into each substance, its effects on individuals, and the signs of addiction.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription medication that contains a combination of amphetamine salts, which are dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. It is classified as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Due to its high risk for addiction and abuse, Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance. Since Adderall affects the brain, there are many psychological and physical side effects to be aware of.

adderall pills

The Effects of Adderall

The side effects of Adderall can vary depending on the person, the amount used, and if a medical condition is being treated. While Adderall is intended to treat symptoms of ADHD, it comes with its own hazardous side effects. Some of these side effects include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid mood changes
  • Loss of appetite resulting in weight loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle tightness
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Psychosis

What is Methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crystal meth, or ice, is a highly addictive stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system and is chemically similar to amphetamine. Methamphetamine is typically a white crystalline powder that can be ingested orally, inhaled, or injected. When ingested, meth increases dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain. Because of this increase in the brain’s reward system, methamphetamine has a high potential for addiction and abuse, classifying it as a Schedule II controlled substance.

forms of methamphetamine

The Effects of Methamphetamine

The use of meth poses significant health problems, with the potential for severe drug addiction and overdose. While methamphetamine can induce a powerful euphoric state, it also brings about a range of highly dangerous side effects, which include:

  • Restlessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Heightened alertness
  • Stroke
  • Dry mouth, or ‘meth mouth’
  • Weight loss
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Compulsive behaviors

Continue reading to learn how long meth stays in your system.

Comparing Adderall vs. Meth

There has been an ongoing debate on the comparison between these two stimulant drugs. Some argue that they have similar side effects, while others say they are fundamentally distinct. While this debate is happening, it’s important to remember that any comparison should consider the context of proper medical vs. recreational use. Another aspect to consider is the implication of Adderall being the same drug as methamphetamine.

Is Adderall Meth?

It’s common for people to believe that Adderall and meth are the same drug, however, that is not the case. While they are ‘chemical cousins’ due to their similar chemical structure, Adderall is made up of amphetamine salts, and while methamphetamine does contain amphetamine, it has an additional chemical called ‘methyl,’ slightly changing the chemical structure. This causes methamphetamine to become more potent than amphetamine, resulting in higher addiction rates.

adderall vs. meth


Although both are stimulant drugs and they have similar side effects, Adderall and meth are two different substances and have distinct differences from each other. These differences are noticeable in their composition, medical use, and potential for abuse.

  • Composition: As stated above, both are chemically similar except for one additional chemical. The two substances differ in the areas of the brain that are targeted, Adderall affects primarily dopamine and norepinephrine, and while methamphetamine also hits those areas, meth does affect serotonin regulation as well.
  • Medical Use: Adderall is a prescription drug that is FDA-approved and is used for the treatment of ADHD. While meth can also be used to treat ADHD, it is not typically prescribed and has limited medical use. Methamphetamine is easier to produce than Adderall, making it more available as a street drug.
  • Potential for Abuse: While Adderall has a potential for abuse and addiction, the abuse rates are typically lower compared to methamphetamine. However, in 2021, 3.7 million people reported abusing stimulant drugs in the past year, which includes Adderall. That same year, only 2.5 million people reported using methamphetamine. Adderall is referred to as a ‘study drug,’ and the rates of abuse are increasing, leading to the conclusion of more adolescents and young adults taking the drug.

While those are the main differences between the two, we can now take a look at how similar the two are.


Despite their differences, Adderall and meth have similarities, making it difficult for some to differentiate them. It’s essential to recognize the difference between the two to avoid any potential risks when taken. The similarities are prevalent in the drug schedules, side effects, and illicit uses of the drugs.

  • Drug Scheduling: As mentioned above, both substances have been classified as Schedule II controlled substances. This is due to their high risk of addiction and misuse. However, methamphetamine does not have an acceptable medical use, unlike Adderall.
  • Side Effects: The two drugs’ side effects are where many similarities lie. Both of these drugs can cause short-term and long-term side effects. These effects include increased energy levels, anxiety, blood pressure, weight loss, hallucinations, psychosis, aggressive behavior, depression, irregular sleep patterns, stroke, and even death. It’s important to note that these are not all the many side effects caused by meth or Adderall addiction.
  • Illicit Use: Both substances are abused recreationally to receive their stimulant effects and can be obtained illegally. While legal meth is sold under the brand name Desoxyn, street meth is more common due to its ability to combine with other substances. However, illegal meth is more popular due to its prolonged side effects and high potency. Meanwhile, illegal Adderall use is common among college students and can lead to dependency and Adderall addiction.

Signs of Adderall & Meth Addiction

Although mentioned many times, Adderall and methamphetamine have a high risk of dependency, abuse, and addiction. While the signs of addiction can vary greatly from each person, there are some common signs that may indicate someone is struggling with an addiction to Adderall or meth. Some of these can include:

  • Taking more than the recommended dose of Adderall or meth
  • Intense cravings for Adderall and meth
  • Increased tolerance resulting in taking higher doses to achieve the same effects
  • Engaging in risk-taking behaviors to obtain or use the drugs
  • Withdrawing from social activities, family, and friends
  • Continued use of the drugs while knowing the dangerous consequences
substance abuse addiction treatment

Adderall & Meth Addiction Treatment Options

When you have recognized the signs of Adderall and meth addiction, receiving addiction treatment is the best option. Treatment for Adderall and meth addiction is mostly the same, with many treatment facilities treating Adderall addiction the same as a meth addiction.

Once you decide to receive treatment, the first step will be the detox from the substances. Due to the effects of meth and Adderall, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that can be intense. After detoxing, entering a treatment program to address the root causes of addiction will give you the resources and tools to combat addiction and reduce cravings. These programs can be inpatient or outpatient but include regular therapy sessions. Finding a treatment program that works best for you is essential, as every recovery journey will be different.

Substance Abuse Treatment at Louisville Recovery Center

If you have found yourself or a loved one struggling with an Adderall or meth addiction, you may have a substance use disorder. Abusing substances like Adderall or meth is a dangerous habit to have due to the long-term effects that can occur. However, addiction treatment is available, and recovery is possible.

At Louisville Recovery Center, we provide holistic, individualized, and experiential addiction treatment programs to address all aspects of addiction. Our center offers comprehensive treatment plans, and our highly trained medical professionals will work with you to create a treatment plan that fits your unique needs. We have medication-assisted treatment, a therapeutic nutritional program, and various behavioral and experiential therapies to ensure there is something for everyone.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, Adderall addiction, or meth addiction, contact our team today to learn more about our programs. Louisville Recovery is here to guide you toward sobriety.

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