Adderall and Caffeine Pills: Are They The Same?

 

Prescription drug abuse has been on the rise over the past decade, especially among teens and young adults. Approximately 1.7 million people misuse stimulant prescription drugs such as Adderall. Originally used to treat children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, adderall hit the market in the late 90’s. Comprised of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, it increases the activity of various neurotransmitters in the brain including serotonin and dopamine. By doing so, it enhances awareness and a person's ability to stay focused on particular tasks. This has made it a highly desired drug among college students who are often overloaded with coursework. At almost every college campus across the nation, there is a surplus of students who are willing to sell their pills for a profit.

 

(Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst)

 

A similar drug is being being sold at local pharmacies, retail stores, and even campus bookstores without a prescription - caffeine pills. Caffeine is a natural substance found in many plants like coffee beans, tea leaves, and kola nuts. One pill has approximately 200mg of caffeine which is equivalent to two cups of coffee. Like adderall, it increases awareness and wakefulness, altering the same neurotransmitters in our brain.

 

(Courtesy of Pina Messina on Unsplash)

 

Both of these drugs largely produce the same outcome, so why are caffeine pills acceptable to use whereas Adderall is not? The answer lies within the long term effects.

 

Overtime, the increased amount of dopamine from taking adderall can cause the brain to rip out its natural receptors in order to compensate for the excessive amount and maintain homeostasis. This damages the brain's reward center and alters a person's ability to experience pleasure, therefore creating a dependency. Classified as a Schedule II drug, an addict may experience wild mood swings, depression, lethargy, anxiety, and in some cases psychosis when the drug is not in their system. Caffeine pills on the other hand, have less drastic long term effects. At most, a person may experience headaches, dizziness, and insomnia when addicted; however, these symptoms may last between two to five days, and does not damage the brain.

 

All central nervous stimulants such as these come with risks, but in comparison to adderall, caffeine pills are healthier and safer for consumption.