Scare stories about meth are mostly fiction, according to a new study. Here's why that's true:
The drug Adderall - which is commonly prescribed to schoolchildren - is nearly identical to meth in its chemical structure and effects.
American doctors regularly prescribe Adderall for ADHD, obesity, narcolepsy, and other common afflictions.
The main ingredient of Adderall is D-amphetamine, which is essentially the same drug as meth-amphetamine, according to a new report from Columbia University scientist Carl Hart: "D-amphetamine and methamphetamine produce nearly identical physiological and behavioral effects."
If you've seen the "Faces of Meth" photos you might find it hard to believe that meth is not a horrifying danger to anyone who takes it.
But Adderall users do not show any of the haggardness or tooth decay pictured in the anti-meth campaigns. "Meth mouth" is the grotesque tooth damage supposedly caused by a dry mouth after taking the drug. But Adderall produces the same dry mouth symptoms, and yet Hart writes that "there are no published reports of unattractiveness or dental problems associated with [Adderall's] use."
The people pictured in the Faces of Meth campaigns are not typical meth users, according to Hart's study. Their haggard faces, bad skin, and tooth decay "are more likely related to poor sleep habits, poor dental hygiene, poor nutrition and dietary practices," writes Hart.
Most meth users don't become addicted, contrary to popular mythology about the drug, Reason writer Jacob Sullum concludes from Hart's study. Over 96% of people who've tried meth did not use it in the past month.