What is Adderall? What is it used for?
Adderall is currently used for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Adderall is composed of 24% L-amphetamine and 76% D-amphetamine salts.
Amphetamine has 2 isomers – dextroamphetamine (D-amph) and levoamphetamine (L-amph). D-amph is more active in the brain, and L-amph is more active in the periphery (increases heart rate, for example).
Adderall is made up of 75% d-amph and 25% l-amph, whereas regular Amphetamine is 50%-50%.
The ratio of Adderall is optimal since it releases more dopamine than pure d-amph, and also more than from regular Amphetamine.
How Does Adderall Effect Dopamine Receptors in the Long Run?
In low doses, Adderall can upregulate them in the striatum and the nucleus accumbens (related to reward system), but not in the prefrontal cortex (related to cognition). This is called sensitization, and can lead to adverse effects such as certain psychosis and involuntary movements (high dopamine concentrations can cause these problems).
In moderate doses, Adderall downregulates dopamine receptors and makes the remaining ones less sensitive.
In high doses, Adderall causes toxic dopamine metabolites to build up in the neuron and kill it (oxidative stress). This type of damage might be permanent, unlike receptor downregulation, since in this case actual brain cells that make dopamine die.