Here’s What Adderall Is Actually Doing To You

Photographed by Jessica Nash.
It's no secret that Adderall can do wonders for those with ADHD, but it's also no secret that the drug is pretty much everywhere come finals week. But, what exactly is it doing? This new Reactions video from the American Chemical Society is here to clear it all up. As the video explains, one of the active ingredients in Adderall is the stimulant amphetamine, which has been available in various forms since 1933. It causes the release of dopamine, allowing those with ADHD to keep focused and calm. For the rest of us, it can cause increased wakefulness and a sense of euphoria, but we don't actually know how much it helps healthy people study. Plus, it comes with a potential for addiction. So, what makes methamphetamine such a big deal? Well, even though it's very chemically similar to the stuff used in Adderall, it has a much higher rate of abuse. Both substances can spur the release of dopamine, forcing more of it into your system. But, meth is more potent, meaning that even more gets into the brain than would with comparable doses of amphetamine, and the long-term damage caused by meth tends to be a lot more serious for your neurons — as well as the rest of you. To learn more about the chemistry going on in your head, check out the full video below. And, if you want to understand what it's like to be in the grip of addiction, this adorable (and sad) video is a good place to start.

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