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Do Doctors Prescribe Adderall for Weight Loss?

By Tracii Hanes ; Updated July 18, 2017

Adderall is a stimulant drug containing mixed amphetamine salts. While some doctors prescribe Adderall for weight loss, it is not a cure for obesity and can cause serious side effects such as abuse and dependence. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve this drug for weight loss. Learning about the risks and benefits of Adderall helps you make better decisions regarding your use of the drug. To prevent adverse effects, never take Adderall without first consulting your physician.


Amphetamines have been used medically since the early 20th century for a wide range of conditions. Adderall--a brand name drug containing amphetamine and dextroamphetamine--was first introduced in 1996. In 2005, the extended-release version known as Adderall XR was temporarily banned in Canada following reports of sudden death in children. While the ban was eventually lifted, Adderall XR now carries a warning for people with structural heart defects.

Medical Uses

Adderall is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder but may be prescribed for other purposes. Because weight loss is a common side effect of the drug, it is sometimes prescribed in combination with diet and exercise to aid in weight reduction. Adderall is thought to cause weight loss by suppressing appetite, resulting in reduced caloric intake. In the brain, Adderall increases levels of norephinephrine and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that help control mood and appetite.

Risks and Side Effects

Like other stimulants, Adderall comes with a long list of potential side effects. Bladder pain, rapid heartbeat, anxiety and insomnia are common side effects of the drug. While rare, sudden death can occur while taking Adderall, particularly in young people with heart defects. Because of its mood-altering effects, Adderall also has the potential to cause abuse and dependence. Other possible side effects may include increased blood pressure, nervousness, rapid heartbeat and personality changes.

Safety Considerations

To help prevent serious health problems, never take Adderall that was not prescribed to you. Before using Adderall for weight loss, tell your doctor if you suffer from a heart condition or take other medications regularly. Follow dosing directions closely and avoid crushing or chewing extended-release tablets. Don’t stop taking Adderall abruptly, as this can cause unpleasant withdrawal-like symptoms. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience serious side effects like chest pain, heart palpitations or confusion while taking Adderall.

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