If you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), then you probably take medication to help manage symptoms like difficulty focusing or concentrating, attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. But medications like Ritalin and Adderall can affect more than just your attention and behavior. One common question about ADHD medication is: does Adderall make you lose weight? Today, we’re looking into this drug and its effects on metabolism and weight loss.
What Is Adderall and How Does It Work?
Adderall is a stimulant medication used to treat ADHD. It works by increasing neural activity in the central nervous system, increasing energy levels, improving focus, and decreasing restlessness and fidgeting.
Specifically, Adderall is made of two different drugs: dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. These are two stimulants that increase the activity of the central nervous system. When someone with ADHD takes Adderall, they may experience side effects like:
- Increased alertness
- Higher energy levels
- Improved focus and concentration
- Increased heart rate
- Higher blood pressure
- Decreased restlessness and fidgeting
- Longer attention span
- Improved ability to finish tasks
Adderall is one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for ADHD, but it can also be prescribed for other ailments like narcolepsy, a rare sleeping disorder that causes sleepiness during the day. Adderall comes in two different versions, an immediate release and an extended-release.
Immediate-release versions of Adderall are usually taken 2 to 3 times daily. Side effects don’t usually last more than 4 hours, which is why immediate-release capsules of Adderall are taken multiple times a day.
On the other hand, the extended-release version of Adderall produces side effects that can last for as long as 12 hours, which is why they’re prescribed as once-a-day tablets. Regardless of the version taken, all forms of Adderall affect the brain by causing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine.
These are two neurotransmitters that can affect a person’s mood, attention, concentration, and more. For someone with ADHD, Adderall can help them develop better work and study habits, helping them socially, academically, and professionally.
As helpful as this medication is for some, it also comes with some risks. Some negative side effects of Adderall include headache, nervousness, insomnia, constipation, diarrhea, and irritability.
Because Adderall stimulates the release of dopamine, it’s also addictive. Stimulant abuse is becoming more common nowadays among young adults and professionals as they use them to enhance their performance at school or work.
However, using someone else’s medication or taking it in an unrecommended way constitutes drug abuse. In the end, long-term Adderall abuse can lead to an addiction that may require the help of professional drug addiction treatment to recover from.
Does Adderall Cause Weight Loss?
Yes, Adderall can cause weight loss. Stimulant drugs like methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine/dextroamphetamine (Adderall) decrease your appetite and increase your metabolism, causing you to eat less and burn calories quicker than usual.
Especially in young children, Adderall and weight loss go hand in hand. This reduced appetite and increased metabolism are the results of changes in chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and caffeine.
Weight loss from Adderall is also the result of changed habits. Merely having ADHD can lead to weight gain. Not being able to control impulsive behavior can lead to junk food cravings and overeating, making it easy to put on some unwanted weight.
When someone with ADHD takes Adderall, these habits change, allowing them to control their eating and lose weight in the process. However, Adderall can also lead to weight gain.
Although the stimulating effects of this drug tend to curb appetite and help burn calories, once it wears off, your appetite can strike back hard. So when someone isn’t on their ADHD medication, they may overeat, causing them to gain weight.
In fact, one review on amphetamine and weight loss that analyzed data from 41 studies (including a total of 48,161 individuals with ADHD) found that about 70% of adults and 40% of children with ADHD were obese.1 In these cases, Adderall can possibly help with weight regulation, but this depends on the individual.
Keep in mind that although Adderall does make you lose weight, you should not take it for weight loss unless directed to by a doctor. Taking medications for different purposes other than why they were prescribed or taking someone else’s medication counts as drug abuse, so be sure to only take medications that are prescribed to you and only as directed by the prescribing doctor.
Additionally, Adderall is also addictive because it’s a stimulant that impacts dopamine release in the brain. Dopamine is known as a feel-good chemical because it induces pleasure and a sense of well-being, and when consistently stimulated by drugs, can lead to chronic drug use behavior.
If you or someone you care about has become addicted to their medication, our Palm Springs, California drug rehab offers prescription drug addiction treatment that can help. From medically monitored detox to individual and group therapies, our rehab programs incorporate various modalities to help patients understand their conditions, develop relapse prevention skills, and receive peer support from others in the recovery community.
What Happens If You Snort Adderall?
Dextroamphetamine vs. Adderall