This Is Your Brain On Adderall

In which the author goes looking for someone to explain to our readers how Adderall actually works, chemically speaking, and finds his own son, Dustin Coker—who not only is a research assistant in a UC Irvine study involving ADHD and psychostimulants, but who also grew up with ADHD. Please enjoy Dustin’s narrative, which has been abridged and edited.



The brain of someone who does not have the disorder operates at a baseline of stimulation, so psychostimulants would put them in a state of overstimulation, resulting in the rush drug abusers seek. But when an ADHD patient is given a stimulant, he or she drops dramatically to a state of understimulation for a few minutes, then gradually reaches a baseline of normal stimulation that allows him or her to concentrate.

The area of the brain most responsible for stimulation from drugs is the nucleus accumbens in the midbrain; it’s one of the structures popularly referred to as the Pleasure Center. It is abundant in dopamine receptors, where the many micro-pleasure parties take place.

Most people think of dopamine as a chemical or transmitter responsible for stimulation or excitement. It’s actually an inhibitory transmitter that tries to stop any excitement from occurring. The nucleus accumbens is where excitement occurs when bursts of dopamine are sustained to inhibit cells that release another inhibitory transmitter called GABA. By inhibiting the inhibitor, dopamine excites the nucleus accumbens.

Nearly all abused drugs increase dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens, but psychostimulants directly stimulate this part of the Pleasure Center. Ritalin does so in a short, intense fashion, while Adderall increases and decreases its effects gradually and sustains them over a longer period of time.

In large doses, Adderall produces the same chemical effects in the brain as amphetamines, while producing an intense feeling that more of the drug is needed to sustain the high. This is due to another event that happens in the brain with amphetamines: the blocking of the natural process where dopamine recycles itself.

Normally, when dopamine is released by a neuron, it stimulates another neuron, giving the excitement effect. When it is finished, dopamine returns to the original neuron and is recycled so it may be released again. This is known as “reuptake.” Amphetamines and ADHD drugs block reuptake; after overstimulating the second neuron, dopamine is washed away, never to be used again.

This eventually results in a low amount of dopamine in each neuron, despite the drug communicating with the brain to release all it has. The user will take more of the drug in hopes of experiencing the dopamine excitement, but there isn’t enough dopamine to create the rush.

 
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22 comments
edwartfruitman
edwartfruitman

We cannot just play with brain stimulation drugs. They would create adverse effects when we do not pay proper attention to the general state of the patient. Adverse effects would destroy the brain's ability to think and concentrate. At my own practice http://southshoretms.com/ I have met with a number of patients who had become ADHD Drug Addicts. The drugs were not working so the rather new scientific innovation we call Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy was utilized. The new technique works, but it cannot stop drug addiction.

sdft.db.mkt
sdft.db.mkt

Nootropics can be beneficial in removing the need to use adderall as well as helping come off of it. Nootropics like CDP choline and L Theanine both have positive implications on dopamine receptors (CDP specifically in regards to D2 and D3 receptors). 

For those using SSRI's and anxiety medicine there is a nootropic called Tianeptine that is actually a SSRE which can help restore balance to the brain chemistry and improve mood as well as treat depression that previous medication didn't help.

You can learn much more about these nootropics at: https://www.smartdrugsforthought.com/ on the "What is" pages. 

lumer
lumer

What kind of article is this? This DISGUSTS me on how terrible the human mind can be for some beings. LSD is a special cookie from SATAN.

finalchaos88
finalchaos88

I have a question. I have ADD (inattentive version). Sometimes, after overthinking for most of the day, I feel the almost acid-like painfullness below/behind my eyes. Could this be stress, or tiredness from constantly thinking unwanted ADD-driven thoughts? (This happens when I'm not on medication). When I DO take my Adderall, I feel this INTENSE feeling of relief and calm, like I can finally focus... and all my extreme stress just melts away, if only for a while. I can breathe out a big, relaxing sigh of relief.

Blake Andrew Freeman
Blake Andrew Freeman

What did I just read? Now I need to unlearn all this wrong information. Should of stopped reading when they called Adderall "like" a amphetamine. Erggg. A step above the usual pseudo-science but not even close to accurate.

Hutchdown
Hutchdown

Adderall is amphetamine. Actually, a combination of dextro-amphetamine and base amphetamine salts(as referred to by my Dr.). I'm saying this because of the comment in the above article that seems to compare adderall to amphetamines. It is one! So, of course the brain is affected in every way that illicit amp drugs act.

Olivia
Olivia

This is ridiculous. Dopamine is NOT an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Inhibition or excitation depends on the properties of the receptor a neurotransmitter synapses with, not the transmitter itself. There are 5 known dopamine receptors. Please disregard the information presented in this article. It is not accurate.

Adderall Abuse
Adderall Abuse

Why endure this notion that this is not the patient's unrealistic and gives it power of your brain triggers. Alcohol as a depressed panic attack adderall state. These two are the most frequent basis and surrounded by stepping out ...

Everettroyce
Everettroyce

This is such a poor written article filled with too many errors to count.

Aaron
Aaron

If you have been on a drug like adderall since childhood, is there ever a way to have the natural dopamine come back or are you stuck on medication for life? I have been taking this type of medication for 17 years.

Your_Brain
Your_Brain

"In large doses, Adderall produces the same chemical effects in the brain as amphetamines, while producing an intense feeling that more of the drug is needed to sustain the high."

Adderall is not LIKE amphetamines, it IS amphetamines.

MT_Lady
MT_Lady

@Blake Andrew Freeman

Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine are central nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control.

Adderall is used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

http://www.drugs.com/adderall.html

Anonymous
Anonymous

I don't see you countering it with any actual knowledge of your own. So until you can do that, perhaps you should just, you know. . .

finalchaos88
finalchaos88

@Olivia Sadly, it looks like I'll have to. Thankfully much of you have pointed out the discrepancies in this article. Thank you.

junkstarz
junkstarz

@Adderall Abuse: Please tell me you were drifting in and out of consciousness while writing those, um, groups of words (I would say sentences but I'm afraid they don't count as such).

Anonymous
Anonymous

It was a very informative article, and I didn't see any errors. Perhaps you have a hyper-drive to get on the internet and randomly insult people in a pathetic effort to feel superior or important. Maybe you would be a good candidate for Adderoll.

Millybou
Millybou

poorly* .. how about that error?

Fortyninersfan3
Fortyninersfan3

Actually, once you stop taking the medication your brain patterns should return to normal (this includes neurotransmitters and such), although 17 years is a long time, there's no doubt your brain would at least go back 85-90% to it's original state/condition (that is just a complete rough estimate - there should be little permanent change is what I'm trying to get across.

Eeee
Eeee

yes, L-tyrosine supplements will help create more dopamine. L-tyrosine is an amino acid that is a precursor to dopamine.

ballzac
ballzac

@Anonymous Adderall is not like an amphetamine. It IS amphetamine. Calling it like an amphetamine shows that the author lacks even the most basic knowledge of the subject.

jkspend
jkspend

@Anonymous It's spelled Adderall......

junkstarz
junkstarz

@Millybou Spelling is one thing, facts are another.

 
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