Does Adderall Actually Make You Smarter?

Adderall is becoming a staple of the college education system. The amphetamine based prescription drug has altered the college landscape by providing students with an easy mental boost. Adderall intrigued me first when I was in high school. The night beforAdderallXR8e my SAT exam, one of my friends had a prescription and suggested I take a pill to improve b
my score. After doing some research, I agreed. The next day it seemed as though I could do anything. My brain was working on overdrive and my thoughts were all so clear and intellectually pleasing. It was a wonder drug. Now that I am at college I notice that drugs such as these are being relied on by students to pass. This got me wondering what exactly is Adderall? How does it effect the brain? Also, does it actually make a person smarter?  According to Adderall is a stimulant that alters chemical activity in the brain. It changes areas in the brain related to hyperactivity and impulse control. The change in brain activity usually leads to increased focus, an elevated pulse and a oost of positive energy. Adderrall is prescribed to people with ADD and narcolepsy. It can be habit forming if it is taken more frequently than recommended. A majority of prescribed users are given dosages that suit their medical needs.

A diagram showing how Adderall works inside the brain

A diagram showing how Adderall works inside the brain


But what about people who take Adderall without a prescription? What effects does it have on them compared to those who are prescribed? explains that those who take the drug without a prescription experience a strong feeling of euphoria that boosts focus. This feel good sensation is what causes a lot of users to crave the drug even if it is not necessary for them to succeed. Dr Lawrence Diller M.D. explains that the drug “…makes you feel like you’re king of the world.”
Anecdotal experiences and numerous studies have lead to strong evidence that drugs like Adderall work. However a recent study posted in Time magazine argues that the drug might actually not make a person smarter. The study was done by Dr. Maria Farah and a team from the University of Pennsylvania. It revealed that individuals who took Adderall didn’t perform any better than those who didn’t. Instead, they merely thought they did. The study tested 47 participants on their cognitive performance after taking an Adderall or a placebo drug. They were then asked questions that ranged from raw intelligence to long term memory. The subjects did not know which pill they were taking, which made this study a blind placebo trial. If Adderall did increase intelligence, the results should have been that the placebo group performed worse than the group that received Adderall. What the study found was that the two groups performed virtually the same. Another discovery was that the group who took the Adderall was more likely to report that the pill had given them a cognitive advantage. The team explained that the drugs effect could merely be a mind trick. They suggest that it could be possible that Adderall gives students an inflated sense of productivity. inwhy-do-successful-students-use-adderallstead of actually making an individual smarter, it causes them to think they are. The team reached the conclusion that while Adderall could be improving cognitive performance, it is very possible that the drug simply makes studying more enjoyable as a result of the euphoric feeling. This means the the drug has no direct effect on a persons intelligence.

This conclusion is very mind boggling as it completely alters how I view the drug. Although the study was only done on 47 participants, the logic behind the conclusion makes practical sense. Without solid evidence to pinpoint the exact effects of the drug it is difficult to determine wether it actually increases a persons intelligence. Despite the grey area surrounding how it works, it is certain that Adderall improves a students study habits.

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4 thoughts on “Does Adderall Actually Make You Smarter?

  1. Grace Anne Walker

    I do not believe that adderall makes you smarter. The drug is prescribed to people with ADHD which makes them focus a normal amount. I do believe that someone who takes it who does not have ADHD will focus more on the task that they are doing. In high school very few people took adderall but, now in college I feel like everyone takes the drug to keep up with the endless amount of homework and tests that every student has. I don’t feel like its necessary to take the drug if you can work hard and focus while your studying. Here are some side effects that come with the use of adderall and what to expect if you take the drug.

  2. Melanie Dawn Weltner

    This is an interesting topic and well written. I personally believe that the drug itself does not make you smarter but there are third variables that come with the use of the drug that could be causing a spike in your grades which is how we often tend to measure intelligence as a society. Adderall when not being used for ADHD basically is used by people in order to maintain focus for long periods of time and almost make you superhuman or invincible. The effects reported of people without ADHD using Adderall reminds me of that movie Limitless to be honest, but a less immaculate outcome. I think this increased amount of focus could lead you to accomplishing more school work or studying for longer hours thus leading to an increase in your grades, but i do not think that using Adderall directly correlates with higher intelligence. I suggest steering clear of it in general, unless one really has ADHD because it can lead to a lot of complications proposed in this article that people may not even realize.

  3. tmv5147

    I don’t believe that adderall makes you smarter, but I do believe it makes you more alert and focused, which could then help you become better prepared for a task so that you do well. Your brain is your brain, it’s up to you how you treat it and watch you teach it. Taking a pill isn’t going to just increase your IQ level or your intelligence. If you have a math test that you did not study for whatsoever and you decide to take an adderall before, that pill isn’t going to get you an A on the test. If you are studying the night before and are having a hard time concentrating and you decide to take an adderall, that could help you keep focus on studying the materials that are going to be on your math test tomorrow so when you sit down and take it you are better prepared and therefor get a good grade.

  4. Grace Ellen Leibow

    Connor, I found an interesting study here: related to your post that discusses whether stimulant drugs, namely Adderall, as well as Ritalin and Vyvanse, are effective if you don’t have ADHD. Oftentimes, these drugs are prescribed for those who struggle in the classroom due to an attention deficit disorder. He discussed whether or not the use of Adderall can be considered cheating, similar to athletes using illegal steroids. He even noted how college students often respond when asked if they do drugs: “I don’t do drugs, but i do Adderall.” I found this article fascinating, and a great tie-in to your topic. Perhaps if you discussed the ADHD side of Adderall used and the debate over whether its considered a negative substance or cheating, it could really boost your post! Great blog overall, though.

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