The 2022 Ultimate Guide to Adderall UK | Nootropics Review
Benjamin Martin - 29 November 2022
Adderall is a prescription drug increasingly used on campuses and workplaces worldwide to boost concentration and energy. Many users swear by it, while others have had negative experiences and are very much against its use as a study or smart drug.
We'll discuss in great detail the common questions surrounding Adderall, including Adderall use, side effects, and availability in the UK. One thing to note, Adderall is much more common in the United States as it is illegal in the UK without a prescription.
We'll also tell you about a natural, plant-based alternative to Adderall made right here in the UK that works just as efficiently and costs less without causing any side effects!
- What is Adderall?
- Uses of Adderall
- Is Adderall Available in the UK?
- What are the Side Effects of Adderall?
- Reviews of Adderall
- What are the Alternatives to Adderall?
What is Adderall?
Adderall, as we know it, was first introduced in 1994. It is, in fact, a slightly modified version of a weight loss pill used in the 1970s.
Adderall was initially called 'A.D.D. For All' before running into legal issues over misbranding. It was renamed Adderall in 1996. That same year, Adderall was approved by the Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research and has been used medically since then.
Adderall consists of two stimulants called amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Amphetamine dates back around 130 years. Its first medical use was in the 1930s as a decongestant inhaler under the name Benzedrine.
Adderall and amphetamines, in general, work by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, saturating your brain's receptors for these neurotransmitters. Adderall's reputation for being a mental performance-enhancing drug comes from this saturation.
Dopamine is the 'pleasure' neurotransmitter, increasing pleasure responses from actions. It helps you feel good, making work or other everyday tasks more pleasant and easier to pay attention to when completing.
On the other hand, norepinephrine serves as a 'fight or flight' neurotransmitter in the brain. Increasing its levels will help improve wakefulness and alertness as its release prepares your body for dangerous situations.
Watch: How does Adderall work?
Uses of Adderall
Adderall's primary use today is to help treat attention deficit disorders. Some shift workers also use it as a eugeroic - a wakefulness-promoting agent. However, students and professionals worldwide use it increasingly as a nootropic or cognitive enhancer to help their productivity. Some people use Adderall to try to enhance their cognition. It is meant to let them stay awake for longer and concentrate on their work more, as dopamine makes it pleasurable.
There are two types of Adderall: Adderall XR (extended-release) and Adderall IR (instant release). The effects of Adderall XR typically lasts longer, about 10-12 hours, whereas the instant release variant works for 4-8 hours. Both work similarly, so their effects and potential side effects are very similar.
If you have been prescribed Adderall by your doctor, you should continue taking it at the recommended dosage.
Is Adderall Available in the UK?
In the UK, the medical use of Adderall is very different compared to the US. In the US, it is prescribed as a 'drug to improve concentration' to people with attention disorders, whereas in the UK, it is an unlicensed medication under the NHS.
While Adderall is quite popular in the US, it isn't generally used in the UK for ADHD treatment. This means that it is used much less in the UK. Although, sometimes, it is prescribed if a patient is referred to an NHS ADHD unit and is determined by a specialist to require Adderall.
In advising prescriptions, the NHS frequently references Adderall or dexamphetamine as a controlled substance, which may be a reason for their reluctance to prescribe it. The NHS often expresses a reluctance to prescribe Adderall due to its addictive qualities and potential for misuse.
According to the NHS, the closest Adderall UK equivalent is dexamfetamine, which is prescribed to children over the age of 6 for ADHD treatment and for adults to treat narcolepsy.
Most off-brand users buy their Adderall online or through friends so the price can vary massively. Alongside its use as a concentration-boosting drug, Adderall might be used to fuel all-night study sessions as it is a powerful stimulant.
Amphetamines like Adderall have been used for this purpose for many years, although non-therapeutic use carries several risks, which we will address shortly.
Some users also report an Adderall high - a feeling of euphoria. This high can help users enter the ‘flow state’ and remain productive for a long time.
Adderall is a Class B substance in the UK, as it is a type of amphetamine, making it illegal in the UK. Adderall possession is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and 14 years in prison for supplying, similar to other class B drugs such as cannabis or ketamine.
In advising prescriptions, the NHS frequently references Adderall or dexamphetamine as a controlled substance, which may be a reason for their reluctance to prescribe it.
As they are Class B drugs, illicit possession of Adderall/dexamphetamine could result in a 5-year prison sentence, an unlimited fine, or both. Selling these drugs can also be punished by a 14-year sentence, an unlimited fine, or both.
If you are considering using Adderall as a study drug, please remember that there are now numerous legal and safe alternatives.
Take our quiz below to see what Adderall Alternative might work for you.
What are the Side Effects of Adderall?
Adderall abuse can be a big problem, and it may lead to some severe side effects. Even if you are using Adderall as your doctor intended, there is still a high risk of side effects.
According to the NHS, the following are common side effects of dexamphetamine: feeling or being sick, stomach cramps, dizziness, eyesight problems, headaches, dry mouth, diarrhoea, unsteadiness or shakiness, loss of appetite, weight loss, thinning of hair, rashes, sweating, unusual movements, sexual difficulties and problems sleeping.
The NHS also states that the following more severe side effects may occur:
- Changes in your mood, behaviour, or thinking
- Chest pain, fast heartbeat, or unexplained breathlessness
- Suicidal thoughts, or thoughts about harming yourself
These are implied to be rarer than 0.01% of cases but still pose potential (if minimal) risks.
It is important to note that taking Adderall and alcohol simultaneously can heighten the adverse side effects, especially the effects on the heart. Mixing Adderall and alcohol is therefore not recommended.
The same is true for other substances, such as Xanax (which should be avoided if you take Adderall). Tolerance can build up quickly, and Adderall can be highly addictive both physically and psychologically. It is common to take a higher and higher dosage to get the same results as before, and once you start taking Adderall for an extended period, it can be hard to concentrate without it.
Taking Adderall can be habit-forming, and the risk of an overdose is ever-present. Below you will find a list of Adderall overdose symptoms, which often occur as a result of Adderall abuse.
- Blurry vision
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Muscle aches and weakness
- Dark red or brown urine
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Upset stomach
- Loss of consciousness
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, habitual Adderall users may experience withdrawal symptoms when they go without Adderall for a period of time. Some of these symptoms are listed below.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
If you experience any of these, you should contact a doctor as soon as possible.
Reviews of Adderall
Reviews of Adderall in the UK are very mixed, although they generally seem pretty negative. As stated above, the NHS is reluctant to prescribe Adderall.
Adderall seems to be regarded with some suspicion by many media outlets in the UK, with articles indicating that it can only boost performance as a placebo or that it can cause many serious problems that seem to outweigh the perceived benefits.
British students, in particular, appear to view Adderall rather negatively. Students are aware of its addictive properties and potential side effects, with one student suggesting people have experienced a 'zombie-like' feeling as a result of Adderall use.
Others have said they were much more productive after taking Adderall but ended up a 'wreck' after using it for a week.
What are the Alternatives to Adderall?
Those using (or considering) taking Adderall off-label should be aware of the alternatives that are now legally available on the market, such as naturally-sourced brain supplements. They can be just as effective at supporting concentration, mental performance and the reduction of tiredness, and they cause no side effects.
One such natural alternative to Adderall is the brain supplement Brainzyme® FOCUS PRO™. This is a 100% plant-powered Adderall alternative made in the UK that costs less than half the price of off-label Adderall.
Adderall has its uses as a medicine, and if you have been prescribed it by a doctor, you should absolutely continue taking it.
However, the recent trend of increasing Adderall dosage off-label as a study drug is concerning. Primarily in part due to the reported side effects and health issues that may arise from abuse. Therefore, due to the issues listed above - side effects and legality- we don't recommend using Adderall as a nootropic.
There are much better alternatives to Adderall out there, and we strongly suggest checking out Brainzyme® FOCUS PRO™ as a legal, affordable, and natural alternative to Adderall as a nootropic for focus.
Weyandt, L.L. et al. (2018) Neurocognitive, autonomic, and mood effects of adderall: A pilot study of healthy college students, MDPI. Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/2226-4787/6/3/58 (Accessed: November 11, 2022).
McDermott, H. (2020) Working Smart: The use of 'cognitive enhancers' by UK university students, Taylor & Francis. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0309877X.2020.1753179 (Accessed: November 17, 2022).
Askew, R. and Bone, M. (2019) Deconstructing prohibitionist ideology: A sociocognitive approach to understand opinions on UK drug policy and the law, International Journal of Drug Policy. Elsevier. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S095539591930235X (Accessed: November 11, 2022).
Benjamin Martin is a nootropic and brain supplement enthusiast who has tried every type of performance-boosting supplement under the sun. He uses his expertise to produce educational content for the Brainzyme® blogs.
Based in Edinburgh, Benjamin loves spending his free time in nature whenever he gets the chance.