Many people are on the lookout for fast, easy ways to lose weight. If you’ve heard that the prescription medication Adderall can cause weight loss, you may wonder if it’s something you should try to help you shed a few pounds.
Adderall is a medication prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which are stimulant drugs that affect chemicals in the brain. You may be able to use this drug for weight loss, but only if prescribed by your doctor. Here’s what to know.
Adderall misuse for weight loss
It’s true — decreased appetite and weight loss are possible side effects of Adderall use. Both adults and children can have these effects while using this drug. However, Adderall is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a weight loss drug. It’s only approved to treat ADHD and narcolepsy.
However, your doctor may prescribe Adderall off-label to help you lose weight. “Off-label” means the use of the drug has not been reviewed or approved by the FDA. You should only use Adderall as a weight loss tool if your doctor has prescribed it for you. It’s important for your doctor to monitor you to make sure the drug is effective and safe for you.
Adderall can cause serious side effects, which is a good reason not to misuse it to lose some weight. A few of the many possible side effects of Adderall use include:
- high blood pressure
- increased heart rate
- mood swings
- trouble sleeping
Adderall use is especially dangerous for people with heart defects or other heart problems. Even if you have ADHD or narcolepsy, your doctor will likely not prescribe Adderall for you if you also have a heart condition or a high risk of developing one.
Serious health warnings
Adderall has a boxed warning, the most serious warning the FDA provides. It states that Adderall has a high risk of dependence, which means that you can become psychologically and physically addicted to it. The warning also advises that Adderall can cause sudden death as well as serious heart problems.
Weight loss in children
A possible side effect of Adderall use in young people who take the medication to treat ADHD is slowed growth and poor weight gain.
According to a 2014 study, stimulant use for ADHD in children was linked with slower growth in body mass index (BMI). Children who used stimulants to treat their ADHD had a lower BMI. However, that seemed to change in later years. Children who took stimulants seemed to gain more weight than those who did not use the drugs at all.
If your child takes Adderall and you’re concerned about weight loss or decreased appetite, talk to their doctor. They can answer your questions and give you guidance on diet.
If needed, the doctor may refer you to a registered dietitian for more specialized care. With help from these healthcare providers, you can manage your child’s diet to help make sure they’re eating well and keeping a healthy weight.
Talk with your doctor
If you’re concerned about your weight, Adderall is not the weight loss fix you may be looking for. It’s a powerful drug that can have serious side effects. It should only be used with a prescription from your doctor.
If you have questions about weight loss or about how Adderall use can affect you or your child, talk to your doctor. They can help you find a weight loss plan that will work for you. They can help you manage any side effects from proper Adderall use.
Questions you may have for your doctor include:
- Is Adderall a safe and appropriate medication for me?
- What side effects can I expect from Adderall and how can I manage them?
- How can I help manage any effects Adderall has on my child’s weight?
- How much weight loss can I expect with Adderall? Will the weight come back when I stop taking the medication?
- What weight loss options should I consider?
- If I follow a diet and exercise plan, how much weight can I expect to lose and how quickly?
What else can I try to lose weight?
Rather than looking to drugs for help with weight loss, try a healthier, more reliable approach. Combining dietary changes with increased activity can move you toward your weight loss goal in a more lasting, less risky way. The best way to start is to talk to your doctor. They can assess your current health and help you develop a plan for losing weight.
Key steps for dropping pounds include setting reasonable goals, managing portion sizes, increasing the fiber in your diet, and moving more in your daily life. For more suggestions, check out these strategies for healthy weight loss.Healthline Medical TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.