While Adderall can have therapeutic benefits for some people, Adderall is often misused as a weight-loss drug. This is because it affects the brain’s dopamine system, which plays a role in things like hunger. Using Adderall to lose weight is something that’s become all-too-common, but it can be risky and ineffective.
If someone is using the drug to lose weight, it’s important that they are aware of the risks. It’s not only illegal to use Adderall without a prescription — it’s dangerous.
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Why Does Adderall Make You Lose Weight?
Taking Adderall tells the brain that a person is “satisfied” and no longer hungry, even if the person has eaten little to no food. It reduces feelings of hunger and makes someone feel more full when they do have a meal.
Regardless of what you’ve heard about Adderall and weight loss, there are severe potential side effects of using this drug for off-label purposes. It can cause everything from mood problems to psychosis in some cases, as well as physical symptoms like a racing heartbeat.
Even when used as prescribed, Adderall can cause:
- Appetite loss
- Spikes in blood pressure
- Changes in heart rate
Adderall can be deadly in rare cases, which is why people should only use it with a prescription from their doctor.
Weight-Related Side Effects & Risks with Adderall
It’s not uncommon for people to lose weight on a stimulant drug like Adderall, whether they’re using it as prescribed or not.
For people who take it as prescribed to treat ADHD, weight loss may be minimal. People who misuse Adderall specifically to lose weight, however, could lose substantial amounts of weight in a relatively short time, which can be unhealthy.
While Adderall can seem like it’s a miracle drug for weight loss, most people who lose weight on it gain it right back after they stop taking the drug. Along with the physical side effects like increased heart rate and blood pressure, Adderall is addictive and can cause physical dependence.
Ultimately, it’s not a safe drug for weight loss, and no drug will melt off the pounds overnight. Medications are not a substitute for lifestyle changes. They work best when used as part of a broader weight-loss program. They should be just one part of a lifelong plan that includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress reduction. Talk to your doctor about your weight loss concerns and to learn more about safer alternatives.
Why Adderall Shouldn’t Be Used for Weight Loss
With Adderall-related weight loss in adults, it’s difficult to keep the weight off unless a person continues taking the drug. This can lead to the development of tolerance, which means a person needs higher doses to get any effect. It can also contribute to serious health conditions, ranging from cardiovascular issues to anorexia.
Additionally, people who stop using the drug may experience withdrawal symptoms. A person may gain even more weight than they lost because they might experience symptoms like rebound hunger.
As mentioned, it’s also easy to develop a tolerance to it, meaning a person may not get the same appetite suppression effects over time.
The Effect on Growth Development in Children
Adderall weight loss occurs differently for adults and children. When children take Adderall, some of the risks can include slowed growth and poor weight gain. A 2014 study showed that when stimulants were used to treat ADHD in children, the children had slower growth in BMI. Then, over the years, they gained more weight than children who never took them.
Everyone deserves support for their eating concerns. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) provides support, resources, and treatment options for yourself or a loved one. You may reach the NEDA Helpline at (800) 931-2237.
If you or a loved one is struggling with Adderall misuse or a co-occurring eating disorder, The Recovery Village can help. Contact us to learn about treatment plans that can address addiction and other underlying mental health conditions simultaneously.
MedlinePlus. “Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine.” April 15, 2019. Accessed June 19, 2020.
RxList. “Adderall.” May 13, 2020. Accessed June 19, 2020.
Schwartz, Brian; et al. “Attention Deficit Disorder, Stimulant Use, and Childhood Body Mass Index Trajectory.” Pediatrics, April 2014. Accessed June 19, 2020.
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