If you've ever taken Adderall, you'll be familiar with the symptoms - more energy, better ability to focus and concentrate, and a sense of euphoria. These symptoms are suspiciously similar to the effects of taking crystal meth, and the reason for this? They have basically the same chemical structure.
In a recent article published by Dr. Carl Hart, an expert in drug use, he claims the only real difference between the two drugs is the way they are perceived by the public.
Dr. Carl Hart is a professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, and he is best known for his work on drug abuse and drug addiction.
He says this about public perception of meth users:
Perhaps it has something to do with public “educational” campaigns aimed at discouraging methamphetamine use. These campaigns usually show, in graphically horrifying detail, some poor young person who uses the drug for the first time and then ends up engaging in uncharacteristic acts such as prostitution, stealing from parents, or assaulting strangers for money to buy the drug. At the end of advertisement, emblazoned on the screen, is: “Meth—not even once."
We’ve also seen those infamous “meth mouth” images (extreme tooth decay), wrongly presented as a direct consequence of methamphetamine use.
These types of media campaigns neither prevent nor decrease the use of the drug; nor do they provide any real facts about the effects of meth. They succeed only in perpetuating false assumptions.
Swayed by this messaging, the public remains almost entirely ignorant of the fact that methamphetamine produces nearly identical effects to those produced by the popular ADHD medication d-amphetamine (dextroamphetamine). You probably know it as Adderall®: a combination of amphetamine and d-amphetamine mixed salts."
Hart initially believed that methamphetamine was far more dangerous than d-amphetamine, but a study he conducted into this caused him to change his mind.
Hart and a team of scientists conducted a study of 13 men who regularly use methamphetamine. During the double-blind study, the men were given a hit of methamphetamine, of d-amphetamine, or of placebo.
According to the study:
Like d-amphetamine, methamphetamine increased our subjects’ energy and enhanced their ability to focus and concentrate; it also reduced subjective feelings of tiredness and the cognitive disruptions typically brought about by fatigue and/or sleep deprivation. Both drugs increased blood pressure and the rate at which the heart beat. No doubt these are the effects that justify the continued use of d-amphetamine by several nations’ militaries, including our own.
When the subjects were given a choice between being given money, or either one of the two drugs, they chose d-amphetamine just as often as they chose methamphetamine. These regular methamphetamine users could not tell the difference between the two.
The result of this study should not be down-played. Hart has shown that a drug that is considered one of the worst and most life-destroying has the same effects when studies, as a drug taken by millions of children across the U.S.
Methamphetamine use in the United States is actually on the decline according to U.S. National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske, but there are over 3.5 million American children currently take an ADHD drug, a nearly 500% increase since 1990.
Dr. Hart poignantly noted
It took me nearly 20 years and dozens of scientific publications in the area of drug use to recognize my own biases around methamphetamine. I can only hope that you don’t require as much time and scientific activity in order to understand that the Adderall that you or your loved one takes each day is essentially the same drug as meth.