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Adderall, a medicine commonly used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Many people think that amphetamine and methamphetamine are similar and therefore, one can be used in place of the other. Although it is true that both these drugs are stimulants of the central nervous system and have an addictive potential, there are some basic differences between the two.

Let's look at both Adderall and methamphetamine in detail.


Adderall is frequently used to treat narcolepsy, a chronic neurological disorder wherein the brain is unable to regulate sleep-wake cycles. It is also used to treat ADHD. Long-term use of Adderall (amphetamine) is believed to improve the structural and functional disability of the brain and reduce hyperactivity and disruptive behavior of patients.

The attention span of children suffering from ADHD has been found to increase after treatment with amphetamine. The children show a reduction in impulsivity and an improvement in relationships with others.

Adderall is believed to be a memory booster and is often taken by students before their examinations to improve their performance. It is also known to increase stamina and is frequently abused by athletes for this reason.

Because of its potential for abuse, Adderall is no longer available as an over the counter drug and a doctor's prescription is essential for procuring it.

Common side effects of Adderall include an irregular pulse rate, a dry mouth, burning micturition (fainting while urinating or shortly after), insomnia, unusual talkativeness, and mood swings.


Methamphetamine is a white crystalline drug, commonly called crystal meth. Unlike amphetamine, methamphetamine is believed to damage the brain and is therefore termed a neurotoxic drug.

Its side effects are the same as that of amphetamine but in addition, it can also lead to impaired speech, shallow breathing, dizziness, constipation and insomnia. The side effects of methamphetamine are much stronger and tend to appear more quickly compared to amphetamine.

It leads to a reduced appetite and is therefore used as an aid to lose weight. However, the FDA has not approved the use of methamphetamine for weight reduction.

Methamphetamine initially acts as a central nervous system stimulant but then leads to progressive memory loss, psychotic behavior, and aggression. The patient may complain of hallucinations, confusion and paranoia. An overdose of methamphetamine can lead to convulsions and even death.

Abusers of methamphetamine can be easily recognized if they are taking the drug orally because of the characteristic meth mouth. The teeth become stained and get decayed. They loosen from the gums and fall off. However, most people who abuse methamphetamine prefer to inhale it, smoke it, or take it as an injection. Though methamphetamine is abused by people of all age groups, it is more popular among youth as a club drug.

Therefore, we see that though Adderall and methamphetamine are structurally quite similar, they are functionally dissimilar.

While Adderall is used more for its medicinal properties and abused for its performance enhancing properties, methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug with little medicinal value.

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