Addorexia: The Truth about Adderall and Eating Disorders

As I look in the mirror, it’s hard not to notice the bags under my eyes and the “freshman 15” sitting on my hips. Cramming for an exam kept me awake all night, fueled by a diet of caffeine and junk food.

Although Spring Break is approaching and bikini season is just around the corner, I haven’t had the time or the energy to make an effort in losing weight. After all-nighters in the library and weekends spent bar-hopping, the last place I want to be is at the gym. But when you’re in college, dining hall pizza, energy drinks, and hard liquor might as well be the only food groups.

There’s a small little pill I could take to make all of my problems disappear: Adderall. One small dose and I could have the focus to finish my homework early and the time to work out. One pill and I wouldn’t feel the need to mindlessly binge on potato chips and candy while I study.

The best part is that I could keep it a secret as I strive to achieve perfection. On the outside, I’ll seem completely pulled together: more successful, thinner, and more energetic.

Adderall could just make me a better me, right? Wrong.

Adderall is a type of amphetamine and a Schedule II drug, which means it has an accepted medical use but remains tightly monitored to limit its potential for abuse. Unfortunately, it’s commonly used for nonmedical uses, like weight loss.

A history of amphetamines and weight loss

Amphetamines have a history of being used for weight loss. It grew in popularity during World War II, when commercial success as the first “antidepressant” highlighted its ability to help with weight loss, a medical usage that had yet to be approved by the American Medical Association.

By 1945, the national consumption rate for the United States was sufficient to supply half a million Americans with 2 tablets daily, the standard dosage for depression and weight loss. The AMA approved marketing efforts to push amphetamine for weight loss in 1949 and sales climbed to $7.3 million.

In the late 1950s, the Philadelphia pharmaceutical company Smith, Kline and French introduced a product called Dexamyl as a weight loss remedy that eliminates the emotional causes of overeating. By 1961, it was the most commonly prescribed amphetamine product, with one-third of all amphetamine prescriptions being written for weight loss.

Widespread consumption of amphetamines made their negative health consequences more evident in the 1960s. After decades of amphetamine-related psychosis cases, it was believed that the drug unmasked latent schizophrenia or other preexisting psychiatric issues in the user, but in 1958, British psychologist Philip Connell proved that amphetamine psychosis can happen to anyone if they are given enough of the drug.

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Evidence also emerged that amphetamine was a drug with a high potential for addiction, yet prescribing rates for amphetamines did not significantly decline until the 1970s when new laws restricted its prescription.

Although the first amphetamine epidemic was created by the pharmaceutical industry, the current amphetamine epidemic has been created by the recreational drug fad and a rise in the amount of amphetamine-type attention deficit prescriptions. In 1995, consumption of these drugs had more than quintupled. By 2005, it had exceeded the first epidemic’s peak.


Along with its popularity as a neuroenhancer, Adderall has gained a reputation for helping its users obtain perfection through increased focus and a decreased appetite.

For those without ADHD, Adderall is a stimulant similar to cocaine. The drug increases the dopamine levels in the brain, suppressing appetite. It also connects Adderall with a feeling of pleasure, which can lead to dependency.

Although those that are biologically predisposed toward disordered eating have an increased potential for abusing Adderall, the drug can foster an eating disorder in anyone. While Adderall abuse for weight loss is not considered an eating disorder, it can be a symptom of other eating disorders, like anorexia nervosa or binge eating disorder.

As the body gains a tolerance for the drug, Adderall can be used in much higher doses to receive similar effects, leading to dependency. Taking the ADHD medication can be deadly, with an increased chance of cardiac risks, like stroke and heart attack, because Adderall increases blood pressure. When taken in excess, Adderall use can lead to psychosis and delusion.

In addition to the negative side effects from the drug, those that take Adderall for weight loss will also experience health issues stemming from the disordered eating, including:

  • Hair loss.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Dizziness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Heart failure.

When someone hands you an Adderall, they don’t list all of the side effects that you may experience. No one warns you against the irritability that comes with not sleeping or the binges you’ll experience during Adderall withdrawal. They’ll tout the pill as a “miracle drug” to fix all of your problems, from a lack of focus to a growing appetite, yet they won’t warn you against its addictive qualities.

What seems like a weight loss cure could lead to a loss of your life.

Addorexia: The Truth about Adderall and Eating Disorders
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Addorexia: The Truth about Adderall and Eating Disorders was last modified: July 5th, 2017 by The Recovery Village