Cite this article

NIDA. (2012, November 1). Prescription Stimulants Affect People With ADHD Differently . Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
November 1 2012
PET scan showing brain activity for someone with ADHD
From this positron emission tomography (PET) scan, you can see how natural dopamine levels are different in people with and without ADHD. The scan on the left shows the brain of someone without ADHD, and the scan on the right shows the brain of someone with ADHD. The greater concentration of yellow, orange, and red in the nucleus accumbens in the scan on the left reflects a higher amount of dopamine.

There’ve been lots of headlines lately about the dangers of prescription drug abuse—like taking a friend’s.

BUT—for people who do not have ADHD, stimulants flood the brain with dopamine, causing a dopamine overload. So instead of having a calming effect as they would on people with ADHD, stimulants taken without a medical reason can disrupt brain communication and cause euphoria. It might feel good at first, but repeated abuse of stimulants can:

  • Increase blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature.
  • Decrease appetite and sleep.
  • Cause feelings of hostility and paranoia.
  • Increase a person’s risk for addiction.

Doctors take many factors into account when prescribing a drug for a person who needs it: dose size, the person’s weight and height, how long the drug should be taken, and much more. The bottom line is that drugs affect everyone differently.

Want to see how abusing Adderall could affect you physically and academically? Choose Your Path.