Your Brain On Adderall - The Study Drug

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Sel Ghebrehiwot: Adderall is the brand name for a mixture of amphetamine salts

that was developed for treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, a.k.a. ADHD.

Since 2007, prescriptions have doubled in the U.S,

and even those who don't have a prescription are using.

An estimated 30% of university students used Adderall at some poinas a study enhancer.

But, what happens to your brain on Adderall?

Adderall is a combination of amphetamine salts,

and therefore is, yup, a close relative of methamphetamine,

commonly known as meth!

When Adderall is ingested, it takes effect on the brain within an hour of use.

Adderall affects neuroreceptors in the central nervous system,

increasing the effect of serotonin and dopamine.

In patients with ADHD, genetic studies have indicated that these individuals

may have dysfunctional dopamine release.

Because of the lack of dopamine, it is theorized that the brain is constantly seeking out stimulants,

resulting in the distractibility commonly seen in ADHD patients.

The dopamine and serotonin released by Adderall overcomes this deficit in ADHD patients,

causing increased focus and making you feel less distracted.

Adderall also causes the release of norepinephrine,

which activates the sympathetic nervous system, initiating your fight-or-flight response.

This results in your body moving blood and energy towards the major organs

and away from your limbs and digestion, which essentially increases alertness.

But in non-ADHD users, can it help you get better grades?

To investigate this, researchers had 32 people without ADHD perform four cognitive tests.

In one instance, they were given 10 milligrams of Adderall and was told it was Adderall.

In the second, they were given a placebo but was told it was Adderall.

In the third round, they were given 10 milligrams of Adderall,

but was told it was a placebo.

And finally, they were given a placebo and were indeed told it was a placebo.

The two groups that did the best were those who thought they had taken Adderall,

regardless of whether they had or not.

In fact, the group that did the worst were those who took Adderall

but was told it was placebo.

This is because although some studies have found that Adderall can increase repetitive learning tasks,

it does not make a difference when it comes to most cognitive tasks

or complex learning techniques like those needed for an exam.

Any increase in studying skills may be from the fact that the drug gives you energy,

and can help keep you awake for a night of studying.

because, as we said earlier, it is similar in chemical structure to meth.

The benefits of Adderall in academic circles is still up for debate.

But, the long-term detrimental effects of Adderall abuse are clear.

Consistent release of serotonin and dopamine

causes the brain to stop producing them naturally over time.

Therefore, you need to keep taking more and more Adderall to get the same effect,

making it highly addictive.

Long-term users of Adderall developed an inability to

feel pleasure without a chemical stimulant,

and these effects can linger even after you stop taking Adderall.

Adderall is a growing problem, so much so the

millenials have been referred to as "Generation Adderall."

The abuse of Adderall in our culture is following a similar pattern to the current opioid crisis.

Which means, as a society, we need to put measures in place to protect people.

Gregory Brown: Thanks to Sal, our editor, for narrating this video

and, wow, turns out Adderall is pretty intense!

Mitchell Moffit: But if you do need help with your exams or school,

we have some scientific study tips and other advice

over in a bunch of videos we've made, I put some there and in the description below.

Gregory: Thanks so much!

Make sure you're subscribed for a new video next Thursday.

We'll see you next week! Mitchell: Bye!