Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Molecular Monday: The Answers

Yesterday I posted a bit of a quiz. I really shouldn't do these things unless I have a bigger readership, but you never know when a stray will come by and maybe post something. :)

If anybody has been following along at home, the answers are:

I was actually shocked by the similarity between Adderal and Methamphetamine. I mean, I know Adderal is an amphetamine, because that's what the generic comes in as, but meth?

But, that's just a digression, the interesting part (and why there is such a tight control on ADHD medication) is the portion of the structures in blue: Both match dopamine in their basic structure. If you don't know what dopamine is, it's essentially the neurotransmitter related to pleasure and addiction. Most (if not all) addictive substances do something with dopamine.

Now, this is my guess as to why Adderal affects ADHD in the way it does: People with ADHD need constant stimulation, doing something stimulating releases dopamine, and those who have ADHD either don't produce enough, or aren't sensitive enough to the neurotransmitter. Enter the stimulant: By mimicking dopamine the drug fools the brain into thinking it has enough, allowing the user to feel stimulated and granting better concentration and focus.

Amphetamines are not without side effects, though, in addition to allowing better focus, taking the medication late in the day can make it difficult to sleep, it also increases heart rate and causes dry mouth; but, the medication works well for me and has made a huge impact on my life, so I'll stick with it, similarity to street drugs notwithstanding.

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