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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

May 7, 2024

Table of Contents

It is a common misconception that Adderall is meth. Although methamphetamine and Adderall are interconnected, they have distinct chemical compositions. While both substances carry the potential for abuse and addiction, they diverge in terms of side effects and potency.

This guide addresses issues that include:

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  • What is Adderall?
  • What is Adderall used for?
  • Is Adderall like meth?
  • Is Adderall meth?
  • Why do so many people believe that Adderall is the same as meth?
  • How to engage with treatment for stimulant abuse in Southern California.

What is The Difference Between Adderall and Meth?

Adderall and methamphetamine, commonly known as meth, share a chemical relationship, yet they possess distinct characteristics. Both drugs are stimulants classified as Schedule II controlled substances. However, notable differences exist between the two, and the chemical variations contribute to their effects and potential for misuse.

  • Adderall: Adderall is a combination medication that contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. The medication is indicated for the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy.
  • Meth: Meth (methamphetamine) is mainly used in illicit form, otherwise known as crystal meth. There is also one meth product approved by the FDA for treating ADHD – a branded medication called Desoxyn.

Adderall vs Meth

Adderall, classified as an amphetamine drug, is closely related to methamphetamine. Despite their chemical similarities, methamphetamine’s structure contains an additional “methyl” group, which enhances its potency in releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger in the body associated with pleasure and reward. This distinction may contribute to meth having a greater abuse potential than Adderall.

Difference Between Adderall and Meth Chemical Structures

Visually, meth and Adderall share a nearly identical chemical structure, with the former featuring an added methyl group. In terms of ingredients, legal ADHD medications containing methamphetamine are combined with inert substances like corn starch and sodium aminobenzoate. Illicit methamphetamine, by contrast, may contain unknown impurities and cutting agents.

The Ingredients of Adderall

Adderall, a blend of various forms of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, comprises ingredients like amphetamine aspartate monohydrate, dextroamphetamine saccharate,  amphetamine sulfate, and dextroamphetamine sulfate. Additionally, inert components like food coloring, compressible sugar, colloidal silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate, corn starch, saccharin sodium, and microcrystalline cellulose are present.

Adderall and Meth: Commonalities

Both Adderall and methamphetamine share the following characteristics:

  • Drug scheduling: They are both classified as Schedule II controlled substances with recognized medical uses.
  • Addiction risk: Due to their Schedule II classification, both drugs pose high risks for abuse, addiction, and dependence.
  • Medical applications: Both substances are approved by the FDA for managing ADHD. If methamphetamine is used to treat ADHD, close medical supervision is essential.
  • Side effects: Similar side effects, including irritability, cardiovascular issues, and weight loss, are associated with both drugs. Meth abuse can lead to additional adverse effects like addiction, hostility, depression, and paranoia.

So, while Adderall and methamphetamine share a chemical foundation, their specific compositions result in distinct properties and effects. Understanding these nuances can help inform individuals and healthcare providers when assessing their use, potential risks, and appropriate applications.

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Does Adderall Have Methamphetamine in It?

Adderall does not contain methamphetamine as an active ingredient. Adderall is a combination of amphetamine salts and dextroamphetamine, formulated to treat conditions like ADHD and narcolepsy. Methamphetamine is a separate compound with its own chemical structure and properties.


Is Adderall addictive?

Yes, Adderall can be addictive. It contains amphetamine salts that affect the brain’s reward system, leading to the potential for dependence and addiction with prolonged or misuse.

How long does Adderall stay in your system?

The duration Adderall stays in your system depends on factors like dose, metabolism, and frequency of use. Typically, it is detectable in urine for 1 to 3 days and in blood for up to 46 hours.

Is Adderall like methamphetamine?

Adderall and methamphetamine are chemically similar, but they have different effects and medical uses. Adderall is prescribed for ADHD and narcolepsy, while methamphetamine is a highly addictive stimulant often associated with illicit use but occasionally prescribed for the treatment of ADHD.

Is Adderall methamphetamine?

No, Adderall is not methamphetamine. While both drugs are stimulants and chemically related, they have distinct structures and effects. 

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Get Treatment for Adderall Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

If you have developed an addiction to prescription drugs like Adderall or illicit stimulants like crystal meth, we can help you recalibrate your life at Renaissance Recovery in Southern California.

Choose an outpatient treatment program that offers you the appropriate level of support and structure. Options include:

All treatment programs at our beachside facility blend science-based and holistic therapies that include:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapy – CBT or DBT
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Aftercare support

Call admissions at 866.330.9449 when you are ready to move beyond addiction to stimulants like Adderall or meth.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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