Both Adderall and speed are addictive, but Adderall can help people who need it for a mental health condition. Speed is stronger and more dangerous than Adderall.

It’s become so culturally acceptable to use Adderall as a prescription drug in the U.S. that people tend to forget the dangers and similarities it can have to illicit street drugs like speed. Is Adderall speed? If it’s not, what are the differences between them?

Article at a Glance:

  • Adderall is a Scheduled II drug generically known as amphetamine mixed salts and commonly prescribed by doctors for ADHD.
  • Adderall is like speed (a form of the illicit substance known as methamphetamine or meth), but they’re not the same thing.
  • Both are addictive and have the potential for physical dependence, but this risk is higher with meth.
  • Adderall dependence develops gradually over time, but with meth, many users report being hooked after trying it only once.

Is Adderall the Same Thing as Speed?

First, for people wondering if Adderall is speed: No, not exactly. Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and a brand name for a prescription drug. Speed is a blanket term that can refer to amphetamines, but most often is associated with methamphetamine (or meth).

Adderall vs. Speed

Both are Stimulants

Adderall and speed do have similarities, including the fact that they are both stimulants. Stimulants lead to similar side effects when misused, such as a euphoric mood and sense of well-being, decreased appetite, increased blood pressure, and high energy levels. Both stimulants also have the potential for addiction, and they can be harmful.

Meth Causes More Damage to the Body

Amphetamine is usually less harmful because it does not travel to the brain as easily as methamphetamine. This is the biggest difference between them, meth’s ability to cause brain damage as a neurotoxic drug. Meth is much more damaging to the body’s systems, including vital organs. Using it causes systemic damage to the body and is associated with heart and brain damage, aggression, and psychotic behavior.

The Long-Term Consequences

Over time, amphetamine can have serious health effects, but methamphetamine goes further and faster, with wide-ranging damage done to most of the user’s body. Its effects tend to last longer, so there is a significantly higher risk of addiction with methamphetamine.

To put it simply, speed is stronger, more addictive, and more dangerous than Adderall.

Meth is an Illicit Drug

Finally, since meth is generally taken illicitly after being purchased on the streets, it has risks associated with its unchecked production as well. The user often has no idea what other harmful substances are combined with their meth, what dosage they’re receiving, and how it could interact with their body.

In contrast, if Adderall is taken as prescribed by a doctor to treat a diagnosed medical condition, it is safer than speed.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.