Updated on February 6, 2024
6 min read

Adderall vs. Methamphetamine: What’s The Difference?

Adderall vs. Methamphetamine: What’s The Difference?

Although Adderall and methamphetamine (meth) have similarities, they are different drugs. The primary difference between meth and Adderall is the potency of each.

Meth is far more potent than Adderal because larger amounts of the drug enter the brain. Meth is also longer-lasting than Adderall.

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Is Adderall Meth?
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Both drugs carry a high risk of misuse. However, meth is rarely prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). When it is prescribed, meth has a lower dosage than Adderall.

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What is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription drug blend of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Both are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants. In addition to ADHD, Adderall is also used to treat narcolepsy and for other off-label purposes.

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What is Meth?

Meth is also a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It was originally an ingredient in nasal decongestants and bronchial inhalers. However, doctors rarely use it as a prescription medication for ADHD.

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How are Meth and Adderall Similar? 

Both substances are schedule II drugs. This means that meth and Adderall can put you at risk for substance use disorder. However, both drugs are U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications for legitimate medical use.

Meth and Adderall have similar chemical makeups and behave similarly. Both:

  • Are stimulants
  • Belong to the amphetamine drug category
  • Impact the brain similarly
  • Cause an immediate rush and sustained level of dopamine

They also share many side effects, including:

  • Mood changes
  • Heart problems
  • Unhealthy weight loss

Meth vs. Adderall: Ingredients & Chemical Makeup

Meth and Adderall are often referred to as chemical cousins. Both are stimulant drugs, but they have differences in chemical makeup.

Adderall’s ingredients include:

  • Dextroamphetamine saccharate
  • Amphetamine aspartate monohydrate
  • Dextroamphetamine sulfate
  • Amphetamine sulfate

Meth contains these same ingredients, plus an additional methyl group in its structure. This includes a single carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms.

Prescription meth and Adderall contain various inactive ingredients. These include food coloring, corn starch, and more. However, there is a difference in the ingredients of prescription meth and illegal "street" meth, which can vary by dealer.

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Is Meth or Adderall Stronger?

Most people consider meth to be stronger than Adderall. But this depends on the dose of the medication. It also depends on whether you compare it to Adderall’s immediate- or extended-release version.

It’s difficult to know the strength of street meth. Most people have no idea how potent their dose of street meth is. And, it’s typically mixed with other drugs.

Meth vs. Adderall: Side Effects & Dangers

Meth and Adderall both trigger various side effects and pose a danger to users. Both of these substances have short- and long-term side effects.

Short-Term Effects of Meth and Adderall

The short-term effects of meth include:

  • Increased attention and decreased fatigue
  • Increased activity
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite
  • Euphoria
  • Increased respiration
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperthermia

The short-term effects of Adderall include:

  • Convulsions
  • Paranoia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack or loss of strength
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • False sense of well-being
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Twitching
  • Seizures
  • Peeling skin

Long-Term Side Effects of Meth and Adderall

The long-term effects of meth include:

  • Addiction
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Repetitive motor activity
  • Changes in brain function
  • Memory loss
  • Mood change
  • Weight loss
  • Problems with thinking and motor skills
  • Easy distractability
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Severe dental problems

The long-term effects of Adderall include:

  • Addiction
  • Heart-related issues
  • Psychiatric problems
  • Changes in the brain
  • Malnutrition
  • Skin disorders

Is Meth More Dangerous Than Adderall?

In general, meth is more dangerous than Adderall. However, when used therapeutically under the supervision of a doctor, both drugs can be safe.

Meth is typically considered more dangerous because it’s rarely prescribed. It’s most commonly purchased on the street, which means it’s likely to contain toxic contaminants. The “street” version of Adderall carries the same risk of contamination. 

Are Both Drugs Addictive? Which One is More Addictive? 

Like all prescription stimulants, both meth and Adderall are addictive. Adderall addiction tends to develop when people misuse the drug. They might be using someone else’s prescription or misusing their prescription.

More than 14 million people misused meth in the year prior. Only 5 million people misused Adderall and similar amphetamine-based drugs during the same time. Three times as many people sought treatment for meth addiction than for Adderall addiction in 2016.1

A 2017 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NDSUH)

Misusing either drug can lead to addiction and other health issues. Most people consider meth more addictive due to its potency and unpredictability. 

Signs of Adderall Addiction 

Signs of Adderall addiction include:

  • Talkativeness
  • Loss of appetite and excessive weight loss
  • Easily excitable
  • Interpersonal problems and changes in friend groups or social circle
  • Unexplained financial problems
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Keeping secrets
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Extended work or study sessions
  • Finishing a prescription early
  • Disorientation
  • Mania
  • Impulsive behavior

Signs of Street Meth Addiction

Signs of meth addiction include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeplessness
  • Euphoria
  • Jaw clenching
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Violent behavior
  • Long periods of wakefulness and a sudden “crash”
  • Skin sores
  • Twitching, tics, and jerky movements
  • Drastic weight loss

Signs of Meth or Adderall Withdrawal

If you suddenly stop using Adderall or meth after long-term use, you may experience withdrawal. To avoid this, your doctor may gradually reduce or taper your dosage. 

General signs of withdrawal occur when someone is addicted to meth or Adderall. These signs include:

  • Craving the drug
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Inability to stop using the drug, despite suffering and/or a desire to stop using 
  • Investing a lot of time into obtaining the drug or recovering from use
  • Neglecting once-enjoyed activities and hobbies
  • Taking higher doses and/or using them for longer than intended
  • Engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence of drugs
  • Developing a tolerance to the drug and needing more to achieve the same effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal when not using the drug

Symptoms of Meth or Adderall Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms make it difficult to resist the drug. For this reason and others, medical supervision during the withdrawal phase is an essential part of a successful recovery. 

Withdrawal symptoms of meth and Adderall addiction include:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Stomach aches
  • Dehydration
  • Seizure
  • Uncontrollable itching

The first few days and weeks after someone stops using these drugs pose the highest risk of health complications. It can also increase the risk of relapse. 

Treatment for Adderall or Meth Addiction

Medical support usually includes medication to ease withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox can help clear the drug from your body with fewer complications and risks.

Following detoxification, there are many different treatment options available, including:

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Updated on February 6, 2024

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