While most people tend to get quite angry when you compare Adderall to Crystal Meth, it seems the two on a chemical level are very similar which is something that cannot be denied. That being said, what else do they have in common?
Adderall is one methyl group from being meth, period. Their molecular structure is so close that a tiny change could leave one as the other and vice versa. While many doctors and researchers have gone over these two drugs and the things that they have in common one of the more prominent in current times is Dr. Carl Hart. For those who are not familiar with his name, Hart is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Columbia University. He is known for his research in the world of drug addiction and abuse and is always going out of his way to make a big impact on the people of the world.
Hart on his website (Drcarlhart.com) has gone over Adderall and meth extensively and notes that he believes them to be ‘the same thing.’ While not quite identical, the two are so close it is scary. While those who use Adderall (and are prescribed it properly) should not necessarily stop using it (depending on why they are using it and assuming they are not abusing it) they should be aware of the ‘truth.’ While a lot of people assume methamphetamine is more dangerous than d-amphetamine (Adderall) it really isn’t.
In the late 1990s, when I was a Ph.D. student, I was told—and I fully believed—that the addition of the methyl group to methamphetamine made it more lipid-soluble (translation: able to enter the brain more rapidly) and therefore more addictive than d-amphetamine.
It wasn’t until several years after graduate school that this belief was shattered by evidence not only from my own research but also by results from research conducted by other scientists.
In our study, we brought 13 men who regularly used methamphetamine into the lab. We gave each of them a hit of methamphetamine, of d-amphetamine, or of placebo on separate days under double-blind conditions. We repeated this many times with each person over several days and multiple doses of each drug.
Like d-amphetamine, methamphetamine increased our subjects’ energy and enhanced their ability to focus and concentrate; it also reduced subjective feelings of tiredness and the cognitive disruptions typically brought about by fatigue and/or sleep deprivation.
Both drugs increased blood pressure and the rate at which the heartbeat. No doubt these are the effects that justify the continued use of d-amphetamine by several nations’ militaries, including our own.
And when offered an opportunity to choose either the drugs or varying amounts of money, our subjects chose to take d-amphetamine on a similar number of occasions as they chose to take methamphetamine. These regular methamphetamine users could not distinguish between the two. (It is possible that the methyl group enhances methamphetamine’s lipid-solubility, but this effect appears to be imperceptible to human consumers.)
It is also true that the effects of smoking methamphetamine are more intense than those of swallowing a pill containing d-amphetamine. But that increased intensity is due to the route of administration, not the drug itself. Smoking d-amphetamine produces nearly identical intense effects as smoking methamphetamine. The same would be true if the drugs were snorted intranasally.
As I left DC and travelled home to New York, I reflected on how I had previously participated in misleading the public by hyping the dangers of methamphetamine. For example, in one of my earlier studies, aimed at documenting the powerfully addictive nature of the drug, I found that when given a choice between taking a small hit of meth (10 mg) or one dollar in cash, methamphetamine users chose the drug about half the time.
For me, in 2001, this suggested that the drug was addictive. But what it really showed was my own ignorance and bias. Because, as I found out in a later study, if I had increased the cash amount to as little as five dollars, the users would have taken the money almost all of the time—even though they knew they would have to wait several weeks until the end of the study before getting the cash.
All of this should serve as a lesson on how media distortions can influence even scientific knowledge about the consequences of drug use.
It took me nearly 20 years and dozens of scientific publications in the area of drug use to recognize my own biases around methamphetamine. I can only hope that you don’t require as much time and scientific activity in order to understand that the Adderall that you or your loved one takes each day is essentially the same drug as meth.
The perception we have behind illicit meth is something that comes from many different places but Hart’s words seem to really work to break whatever kind of stigma is behind it. While neither is good for you, why should one be praised and the other looked down on? To hear Hart touch on this topic please feel free to check out the video below. What do you think about all of this?