Adderall is one of the most popular drugs around the world. Its effectiveness in treating ADHD has made it a popular prescription drug among doctors and patients. Nevertheless, the drugs also offer so much more besides treating ADHD.

Other than for treating ADHD, the United States’ Food and Drug Administration has also approved Adderall for treating narcolepsy.  A narcolepsy is a form of a rare mental disorder that causes a person to have difficulty in regulating their sleep and wake pattern. (1)

Some clinical studies have also shown that Adderall can help improve an individual’s performance in different ways. The first one, and probably more controversial is how it can help athletes or people boost their physical performance through its stimulating properties.

However, that is not what we are going to discuss today. We shall look into claims that Adderall can improve the mental capacity of those using it. Additionally, we will talk about how it might be doing this; and finally, if it is safe to use the drug for such reason.

How Does Adderall Work?

Adderall is composed of various salts extracted from the enantiomers of the potent drug amphetamine. Enantiomers are compounds that are strikingly similar to their counterparts. Hence, Adderall can have almost the same properties and effects as amphetamine drugs.

What Adderall does is that it increases the concentration of some major neurotransmitters in our brain. Most notably among these neurotransmitters are dopamine and norepinephrine. (2)

Several studies have shown that Dopamine and norepinephrine are related to the occurrence of ADHD among adults and children. Hence, by increasing the quantity of these neurotransmitters, Adderall aims to lessen the symptoms of the said mental disorder.

Notably, this increase in dopamine is also associated with the enhancement of the cognitive functions of those using the drug. A systematic study done on the drug has shown that therapeutic doses of Adderall can help improve a person’s working memory and cognition abilities.

Is Adderall Safe To Use As A Brain Enhancer?

First of all, the Food and Drug Administration has categorized Adderall as a Schedule II drug for a particular reason. Due to its similarity to amphetamines, the drug has inherited one of its worst side effects, and that is its high abuse and addiction potential.

Studies have shown that long-term medical use at therapeutic doses of the drug poses a little possibility of physical or psychological dependence. However, it is no secret that a lot of students get desperate during examination periods. Hence, many of those who use Adderall for studying have the possibility of increasing their dose in the hopes of getting higher grades.

Other than addiction, another threat to students would be the risk of getting overdosed. Statistics on Adderall abuse has determined that on 2013 alone, about 4,000 individuals died due to Adderall overdose. (3)

The properties of Adderall can undoubtedly improve a person’s thinking capacity by some degree. Nevertheless, if you get approval from your doctor to use the drug for such purpose, make sure that you follow the dosage instructions that they would give. This way you can improve your performance in school without ever endangering yourself.


Collaborators (2015). “Global, regional, and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013” (PDF). Lancet. 385 (9963): 117–171.Retrieved 3 March 2015.

“Adderall XR Prescribing Information” (PDF). United States Food and Drug Administration. Shire US Inc. December 2013. pp. 4–8. Retrieved 30 December 2013.

Bidwell LC, McClernon FJ, Kollins SH (August 2011). “Cognitive enhancers for the treatment of ADHD.” Pharmacol. Biochem. Behav. 99 (2): 262–274.