Instead, people are buying the pills off of their friends or even from sketchy websites, in hopes that the stimulant will curb their appetite and lead to weight loss.
But it doesn’t really work that way.
Here, we explore everything you need to know about Adderall, what it is, and how it can affect both your weight and health.
1. It’s A Highly-Addictive Amphetamine
Adderall, like crystal meth, is an amphetamine. So it creates similar effects, such as ramped-up energy and decreased appetite. More specifically, Adderall is a dextroamphetamine, a powerful stimulant that gives someone diagnosed with ADD the energy their brain needs to focus and seemingly calm down, explains Carl Knopke, M.D., an Obesity Medicine Association board of trustees member. Non-ADD brains respond quite differently to the drug, he says.
And like morphine, cocaine, and meth, Adderall is classified as a drug with a high potential for abuse and addiction, Knopke says. Of course, that risk for dependency increases when people take Adderall without a prescription.
If Adderall was prescribed by a doctor for the purpose of weight loss, taking it under a doctor’s supervision would mitigate some of the risks of dependency, thanks to a prescribed dosage and regular check-ins with your doc. Still, experts say it’s risky.
These are some of the craziest things people have done to lose weight:
2. It May Result In Appetite Suppression, But Typically Not Much Weight Loss
Appetite suppression and weight loss are potential side effects of taking ADD meds, but that’s only seen in some people. And even among those who do experience those side effects, they are usually both minimal and temporary, says Knopke.
“I’ve rarely seen any of my patients taking Adderall for ADD lose a significant amount of weight,” Knopke says. He notes that some do observe a slight reduction in appetite and weight at first, but that generally tapers off over time. Plus, you can expect any weight lost to rebound right back after you stop popping pills.
So if your doctor did suggest prescribing you ADD meds to lose some weight, you might want to consider getting a new doctor, says Knopke.
3. The Effect Doesn’t Last
One huge potential problem in women taking Adderall for weight loss is that the effect fades over time. So when one dose stops working, you take more. That puts women at an increased risk of addiction and some scary side effects including heart tremors, hallucinations, and seizures, Knopke says. (Kick-start your new, healthy routine with Women’s Health’s 12-Week Total-Body Transformation!)
4. You’ve Got Other Options
“By taking Adderall without a prescription for weight loss, you are taking on a significant risk for a result that’s not very good,” Knopke says. If you’re interested in taking medications to lose weight, it’s worth contacting an obesity medicine specialist to discuss what, if any, FDA-approved weight-loss drugs are right for you.
K. Aleisha Fetters, M.S., C.S.C.S., is Chicago-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, training clients both in-person and online.