4 Questions You Probably Have About Adderall

Photographed by Megan Madden.
Last season on Riverdale, it was revealed that Betty, the whip-smart, do-gooder in the group, had been taking Adderall to help her with her school work. This isn't the first time that this stereotype has been used in a TV show targeting teenagers; even Spencer from Pretty Little Liars had a storyline involving her amphetamine addiction. But while Adderall is often depicted as a secret weapon that smart kids use when they're under a lot of pressure, there's a lot more to it than that, which people using it IRL may not know.
In a study published last week, researchers at New York University examined survey results from 24,000 high school seniors, to see whether teens reported "nonmedical" Adderall or amphetamine use (aka without a prescription). Weirdly, more than a quarter of the students who reported using Adderall without a prescription said that they don't use amphetamines. But Adderall is an amphetamine formulation, so clearly many students who use it are confused about what exactly they're taking. Researchers say that these survey discrepancies also mean that the amount of high schoolers misusing Adderall may be as high as 9.8%, or 1 of 10 high school seniors, which is higher than was previously believed.
Given the scope of its use and persistent confusion around Adderall, we asked Frances Levin, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in addiction at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry, to answer some common questions you might have about the drug — including exactly what it d0es.

More from Wellness

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
Fashion
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Beauty
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
Documentary
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Documentary
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Comedy
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Documentary
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Politics
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
Film
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.