Does Adderall cause weight loss?

Yes, Adderall has been associated with weight loss. But it is not known to increase or speed up metabolism. Instead, experts think that Adderall suppresses appetite. More on how amphetamines work here.

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Decreased appetite is a common side effect of Adderall. In fact, stimulants like Adderall suppress the appetite, and have been used by people trying to lose weight for decades. While this weight loss effect may be welcome in adults, it can lead to growth problems in kids. Furthermore, addiction to Adderall is a very real possibility if you take Adderall without medical supervision or are taking it simply to suppress appetite. Here we discuss what is Adderall, how it causes weight loss and implications that this has for both addictiveness and for children here.

How does Adderall cause weight loss?

Adderall causes weight loss by suppressing appetite. This effect is achieved as long as you take Adderall, making the risk for Adderall addiction relatively high if it is used for weight loss. In other words, your appetite will return after you stop taking Adderall. Here’s the technical description of the neuroscience of Adderall presented by Kent Jackson of UCLA  about how experts think that appetite suppression work with amphetamine.

Amphetamines work by increasing the amount of serotonin present in the synaptic cleft by not only inhibiting re-uptake of the serotonin but also by triggering the release of serotonin from the pre-synaptic nerve terminal. It was theorized that dietary starch is converted to sugar, sugar stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, insulin raises brain levels of the amino acid tryptophan, tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin, and serotonin regulates mood, producing a sense of well being. As a result of increasing the amount of serotonin at the synapse a sense of well being or fullness is created thus suppressing appetite.

Taking Adderall for weight loss can lead to addiction

Taking Adderall for non medical reasons increases potential for dependence or abuse of the drug, and even increases risks for developing anorexia. In fact, amphetamine is infrequently used in the treatment of obesity, overeating disorders, and weight loss due to its abuse potential. If you are taking a stimulant like Adderall strictly to lose weight or as “performance enhancement”, you are not taking the medication as prescribed. In medical terms, doctors call this Adderall abuse.

Abuse leads to addiction when you continue to use Adderall to achieve euphoric effect, continue taking Adderall despite negative consequences, you develop a physical tolerance and a mental need for Adderall, and you start to crave or have obsess thought about Adderall.  Adderall becomes even riskier as an addictive substance when you mix alcohol and Adderall, or if you  crush, snort, or injectamphetamines.  Please ask questions about signs of Adderall addiction below. We’ll be happy to answer them!

Weight loss warnings for children on Adderall

Children who take Adderall may experience decreased appetite, a common side effect of Adderall. In fact, some kids seem to be less hungry during the middle of the day, but they are often hungry by dinnertime as the medication wears off. Is this any cause for worry?

Not necessarily.

But all children taking Adderall should be monitored for abnormal growth or weight changes. Why? Because it’s possible that children taking Adderall may experience a slowing of growth, which can be seen in height and weight. Specifically, the main ingredient in Adderall (amphetamine) may slow children’s growth or weight gain. And recent research shows that stimulant medications like may be associated with a small reduction in growth (primarily weight related), at least during the first 1-3 years of treatment. However,most studies show that any reduction in growth rate is often temporary and unrelated to the child’s ultimate height. This possible long-term suppression of growth is why doctors recommend that children taking Adderall should have their height and weight checked often.

Your child’s prescribing doctor can watch growth carefully but you should also monitor weight and height gains/losses. Then, talk to your child’s doctor if you note changes which concern you as well as the additionaly risks of giving dextroamphetamine and amphetamine to your child. Many side effects such as descreased appetite are minor and may disappear when dosage levels are lowered.

Reference sources: FDA Medication guide for Adderall XR
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists information on Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine
Mental Health Medications used to treat ADHD
ADHD Parent’s medication guide from Psych [dot] org
NIDA info facts on amphetamines
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration information on methamphetamines
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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