What Is Adderall?
First, it was popular with those with ADHD.
Then, it was adopted by entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.
Next, it swept across university campuses around the world.
Finally, it is used by many people, from airline pilots to secret service operatives, to help boost their brain and give them energy.
But, what is Adderall?
What does Adderall do?
Where did it come from?
What is Adderall used for?
What are the common side-effects?
Is there anything else you need to know?
We asked all of these questions to our team of nootropic experts - what they found may surprise you.
Adderall’s History, And What Adderall Is Made Of
Adderall as we know it was first introduced in 1994 and is, in fact, a slightly modified version of a weight loss pill used in the 1970s.
It was originally called ‘A.D.D. For All’ before running into legal issues over misbranding, leading to it being renamed Adderall in 1996.
That year, it was also approved by the Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research and has been used medically since.
However, the history of Adderall’s ingredients is much longer, hence we grouped what Adderall is made of and its history together.
This is because Adderall is made from derivatives of amphetamine, a drug which dates back around 130 years.
Amphetamine was first synthesised in the 1880s and is a potent stimulant - though its stimulant effects were only discovered in the 1920s.
Its first medical use was in the 1930s, as a decongestant inhaler under the name Benzedrine.
Amphetamines were used by armies on both sides in World War 2 to keep their troops awake, make them more aggressive, and to ‘increase morale’, and they're believed to still be in use among some militaries today.
Amphetamines have been used as weight loss drugs, alertness boosters, mood enhancers, and for many other purposes.
Amphetamine is also used as a recreational drug and might be 'cooked' into methamphetamine, which is much stronger and more addictive.
How Adderall Works, Is it A Mental Performance Enhancing Drug?
When considering what Adderall is, an important factor is how it works and the effect it has on your brain, as well as asking if it truly is a mental performance enhancing drug.
Adderall (and amphetamines in general) works by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, saturating your brain’s receptors for these neurotransmitters.
This is where Adderall's reputation for being a mental performance enhancing drug comes from.
Dopamine is the ‘pleasure’ neurotransmitter, which increases pleasure response from actions. It helps you feel good, which can make work or other everyday tasks more pleasant to do and easier to pay attention to.
Norepinephrine, on the other hand, serves as a ‘fight or flight’ neurotransmitter in the brain. Increasing its levels will help to improve wakefulness and alertness, as its release prepares your body for dangerous situations.
As a result, Adderall is used by some people to try and enhance their cognition. It is meant to let them stay awake for longer and concentrate on their work more, as the dopamine makes it pleasurable.
In some instances, Adderall is a mental performance-enhancing drug, as increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels can boost attentiveness and alertness.
However, Adderall ceases to be a mental performance enhancing drug if abused for longer periods or in increasing amounts.
This is because constantly stimulating dopamine and norepinephrine receptors in your brain can reduce their effectiveness.
Moreover, releasing too much of these neurotransmitters can deplete their stores in your body, leading to neurological problems from overuse of Adderall.
Adderall may not be a mental performance enhancing drug when its side effects are taken into account, which can hinder your ability to think or work productively.
If you want to enhance your mental performance without the use of drugs and avoid the side-effects of something like Adderall, you may want to try natural nootropics.
Who Uses Adderall?
Adderall is medically prescribed for many different disorders.
Most famously, it is prescribed for ADHD. It can also be used to treat narcolepsy due to its effects as a stimulant.
As mentioned, it might be issued by some armies to improve wakefulness on long missions.
As Adderall is an amphetamine, it may be prescribed to people who suffer from obesity, as it can cause weight loss.
It can also be prescribed for disorders such as depression, daytime fatigue, and other issues.
However, a large number of Adderall users take it off-label as a 'smart drug', or nootropic, having acquired it without a prescription*.
The use of Adderall for studying has continued to increase in recent years.
People who use it in this way may want to utilise Adderall's stimulant effects to stay up later and work for longer.
This might include people like airline pilots, shift workers, and students around exam time.
People may also want to capitalise on the dopamine-boosting effect from Adderall, to make the work that they do more pleasurable - a student may enjoy studying more, and thus be able to concentrate better or be motivated to study harder.
As mentioned, Adderall can have several different effects on your body. However, it can also have numerous undesirable side-effects.
According to the American FDA, Adderall’s common side effects include decreased appetite, nervousness and a stomach ache.
It can also cause diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and other issues.
Adderall can also cause psychiatric problems, as well as potentially lethal heart issues.
Fatalities are rare, however: Adderall most commonly causes hypertension or tachycardia. Studies indicate that side effects from chronic use of Adderall may include ‘psychosis, seizures and cardiovascular events’.
Other common side effects of Adderall are insomnia, emotional lability, nervousness and fever.
Most of these are described as ‘time-limited’, meaning they disappear soon after discontinuing use of Adderall.
If you'd like to learn more about Adderall side-effects, then you should consider checking out our dedicated article on that subject.
Other Issues With Adderall
There are some concerns from researchers that studies are only on short durations of exposure, and that studies are too small.
Long-term Adderall use is not well-researched, particularly in those who take Adderall without being prescribed it.
Adderall can be addictive.
Like other amphetamines, regular use may cause a change in your brain chemistry, leading to tolerance or addiction when used for longer periods.
Adderall is also illegal to possess.
It is a class-B drug in the UK, which means the maximum penalties for possession are a 5-year prison sentence, an unlimited fine, or both.
The Best Adderall Alternative In The World?
Because of the issues mentioned above, we recommend an alternative to Adderall that is:
- Better value for money.
- Just as effective.
- Fewer Side-effects.
- Completely legal.
That alternative is BrainZyme.
Click here to learn more about why BrainZyme is the best alternative to Adderall.
This article has addressed the question: "What is Adderall?" At its most elementary level, Adderall is an amphetamine used to treat narcolepsy or ADHD.
However, its history and chemical makeup may also influence your perception of what Adderall is. ~
In addition, Adderall may result in side effects if used improperly: moreover, Adderall's side effects can be quite severe, as this article has indicated.
If you are considering using something like Adderall and haven’t been prescribed it, we’d strongly suggest investigating alternatives like ‘natural nootropics’.
If you enjoyed this article, we also recommend you check out the following articles:
The Ultimate 2019 Adderall UK Guide: Legality, Alternatives & More.
The Ultimate Modafinil UK Guide: Effects, Side Effects, Dosage and More.
The Ultimate Guide to UK Nootropics 2019: All you need to know.