Stimulant Medication Abuse for Weight Loss

Health Writer

Parents of children with ADHD are frequently concerned about one of the major side effects of stimulant medication: loss of appetite. But for some, this side effect is a welcome part of treatment.

Stimulant Medications are effective treatments for ADHD; they help to reduce symptoms of inattention, impulsiveness and hyperactivity. Children and adults take stimulant medication, such as Adderall and Concerta, to help them focus and increase concentration. The majority of people use prescriptions exactly as intended and prescribed.

However, the abuse of stimulant medications has been concerning for the past several years, college students will use the medication to help with long study sessions. But now, women are also finding that weight loss is a benefit of this medication.

According to an article in Allure Magazine [Speed Diet: Women Using ADD Drugs to Get Thin, 2008, Judith Newman, Allure Magazine], Amanda, a television producer explains Adderall is a drug with "no noticeable side effects" and it allows her to "lose all the weight" she wants. She ends with, "It's a godsend."

For many women, taking stimulant medication did not start in order to lose weight, it began as a way to get more accomplished and to cope with symptoms of ADHD or to make it through a stressful day. But then they discover the added benefit of losing weight. According to the magazine article, some women try to increase the effects of the medication and get around the time release by grinding the content of an Adderall capsule and wrapping it in toilet paper to eat it or snorting the contents. This increases the rush and the appetite suppression effect.

The doses for Adderall (5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 mg.) are not high enough to kill brain cells. Crystal meth, street speed, is often taken in doses of 3000 mg. per day. For some, increased doses of Adderall in order to get the most appetite suppression or long-term users continue to take more and more. Amphetamines can become addictive, both psychologically and physically, when taken in higher doses.

Despite Amanda's original comment (in the article in Allure Magazine) of unnoticeable side effects, Adderall, there are a number of side effects, including headaches, heart palpitations, dry mouth and trouble sleeping. There are also heart related risks associated with Adderall and other stimulant medications.

All medications should be taken under a physician's care and monitoring. Sharing medication or taking someone else's medication is never a good idea.