As of May 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Adderall to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, but has not approved the medication for use as a weight-loss aid. Despite this, some health-care providers prescribe Adderall for this purpose. While Adderall may help some individuals lose weight, you should never take the medication for this purpose without the permission and guidance of your doctor. Taking Adderall for purposes for which it was not intended, such as weight loss, may have serious consequences.
Off-label prescribing is the act of prescribing a medication to treat a condition that the medication is not intended to treat. While this practice can be effective, the scientific evidence supporting the safety of using the medication for that purpose may be limited or even non-existent. As a patient, you should always do your own research and thoroughly discuss the potential risks with your doctor before agreeing to take a medication for an off-label use.
Two of the most common side effects of Adderall are a loss of appetite and weight-loss, according to Adderall prescribing information sheet. In clinical trials, a loss of appetite occurred in 22 percent of children between 6 and 12 years old, 36 percent in adolescents between 13 to 17 years old and 33 percent of adults over 18 years old. Weight loss occurred in 4 percent of children between 6 and 12 years old, 9 percent in adolescents between 13 to 17 years old and 11 percent of adults over 18. Although these percentages provide some useful insights, keep in mind that results may not reflect the percentages that occur in clinical practice. Adderall affects everyone in a slightly different way, so you may not experience the same effects from the medication as others experienced.
Children and Adolescents
Adderall prescribing information notes that this medication may cause a long-term suppression of growth in children or adolescents. Higher doses are associated with a greater risk of this than lower doses. Children and adolescents should only take this medication under the careful guidance of a doctor and may need to discontinue treatment if they stop growing normally.
Although common side effects of Adderall are a loss of appetite and weight loss, the medication also has many other potential side effects, some of which are quite serious. Insomnia, rapid or uneven heartbeats, lightheadedness, increased blood pressure, tremors, hallucinations, muscle twitches, headaches, dizziness, diarrhea or constipation, sexual dysfunction and changes in mental state are some of the possible side effects of the medication. Adderall is also habit-forming, which means it is possible to become physically dependent and addicted to the medication. People with a heart condition, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, glaucoma, severe anxiety, a history of mental illness, a history of seizures, Tourette's syndrome and those with a history of drug or alcohol addiction should not use this medication. Some stimulant medications like Adderall have caused sudden death in children or teenagers with a serious heart problem or defect. The medication may also harm an unborn or nursing baby, so pregnant women and nursing mothers should also refrain from using this medication.
Although Adderall may help you lose weight, it is safer to change your diet or exercise routine instead. This may give you the benefit of weight loss without exposing yourself to potentially harmful side effects. If you have already tried this and have been unsuccessful, consider exploring other weight-loss options with your doctor before deciding whether to take Adderall. This will ensure you select the weight-loss option that is most appropriate for you.