[This is a guest post by Eric Balaster who is the co-founder of Pure Nootropics. His interests in nootropics started when his grandfather needed racetams to improve memory in old age.]
There is no doubt that one of the world’s favorite stimulants is Adderall. Often prescribed for ADD or ADHD, many college students and busy professionals utilize the trademarked concoction without a prescription for enhanced focus, alertness, and motivation.
While prescription drugs often offer the illusion of safety, ther
e is no denying that Adderall is an amphetamine with many similarities to the methamphetamine that is bought and sold to addicts on the street. However, for a comparison of Adderall and methamphetamine, a standardized prescription version called Desoxyn is most useful.
Structural Overview of Adderall and Methamphetamine
The trademarked Adderall is comprised of four salts in equal weights, which is often used as a “time release” mechanism within the body. This helps to balance the intense motivation and feelings of euphoria associated with the drug. Studies show this combination to improve childrens’ IQ by up to 100% over the course of a year. This success is due, in large part, to the racemic mixture of salts.
Methamphetamine has an added methyl group at the intersection with the alpha carbon, which significantly alters the effects. The composition of methamphetamine is more lipophillic, which increases the bioavailability and allows for more efficient absorption.
Amphetamines are most well-used to combat fatigue, provide alertness and improve mood. Many people use it recreationally today, but during World War II amphetamine and methamphetamine were both distributed as official government policy in “go pills”.
At a neuronal level, the structural difference of methamphetamine is huge implications. Rather than binding at the same receptor site as amphetamines, it operates elsewhere and effects another transporter and alpha-2 adrenergic receptor. This slight change significantly alters the potency, but also changes long-term effects. Whereas methamphetamine causes adverse effects, chronic use of well-dosed amphetamines can provide improved neuroplasticity.
The stimulation provided by methamphetamine makes “coming down” far harder than the four salts in Adderall. One of the main differences between the two is the potency and thus the physical dependence. Nonetheless, taking Adderall can lead to similar problems of withdrawal to that of methamphetamine. Depending on the individual, this can be paired with headaches, irritability, and day dreaming.
While it is not recommended to take either Adderall or methamphetamine without a prescription, it is important to track cognitive abilities with modern tools to ensure safety and efficacy. The Mercury App is particularly useful to provide information about withdrawal or dependency problems through the use of consistent subjective testing.
Overall, the small addition of the methyl group in methamphetamine has drastic implications for the bioavailability and effects in the human body. This small change makes it more addictive, far more potent, and can lead to intense withdrawal symptoms. While the difference may be great, both Adderall and methamphetamine are in the amphetamine class, which can create problems of dependency and other physical ailments.