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Speed Diet: Women Using ADD Drugs

Posted on Wednesday, August 20, 2008 at 05:06PM by Registered CommenterPennino Corp. CEO | CommentsPost a Comment

Speed diet: Women using ADD drugs to get thin

Adderall spurs rapid weight loss, but it can lead to dangerous addiction By Judith Newman Allure updated 9:37 a.m. ET, Wed., Aug. 20, 2008

On the patio of the Sunset Tower Hotel overlooking the Hollywood Hills, on the kind of sun-blinded afternoon Raymond Chandler made famous, Amanda F.* and I are eating. Well, one of us is eating. And it's not Amanda. "I took my Adderall about an hour before I got here," says the television producer as she picks at her crab salad. "If I hadn't taken it, I would have inhaled the table."

Amanda has been diagnosed with adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD), for which Adderall, an amphetamine that paradoxically allows ADD patients to slow down and concentrate, is an accepted treatment. But for her there's a notable and seductive side effect: For a body that has fluctuated between a size 14 and a size 2, Adderall — along with yoga and chain-smoking — has helped her maintain a size 6.

"I can see you have a healthy attitude toward food," Amanda says, stopping me as my fork hovers midway between plate and mouth. My pants feel curiously tight. "But let me ask you this: If you could take a drug that has almost no noticeable side effects and lose all the weight you want, wouldn't you do it? That's what Adderall's like for me. And for a lot of women. It's a godsend."

And apparently God, or at least the local pharmacy, is sending it out to the weight-obsessed in the entertainment industry, where the difference between a size 4 and a size 8 may mean a difference between working and not.

"When a high-profile celeb suddenly drops a lot of weight, the rumors start that she's on A," notes Kym Douglas, who co-wrote “The Black Book of Hollywood Diet Secrets" (Plume). "It isn't a secret among people like the top stylists and makeup artists who work with celebrities." Indeed, several wispy young starlets have been rumored to have prescriptions for the drug.

Abusing Adderall
Since 2002, the number of prescriptions for all amphetamine-based drugs used to treat ADD — including Concerta and Strattera — have skyrocketed. Sales for Adderall XR (extended release) have more than doubled in the past five years, from 4.2 million in 2002 to 9.5 million in 2007, according to IMS Health, a health-care information company. And online, Adderall ranks right up there with Viagra in most-hawked pharmaceuticals on the Internet; indeed, type in the words "Adderall abuse" and you're likely to be directed to a site that sells the stuff.

Just why Adderall helps people with ADD is a little unclear. But scientists believe that sufferers have some imbalance of three chemicals in the brain dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin — and that Adderall helps by inhibiting the reuptake of these chemicals so they remain in the synapses longer, says Paul Thompson, professor of neurology and director of a neuroimaging lab at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. For the most part, Adderall is used exactly the way it is prescribed — to increase concentration among those with ADD. But there is a tempting yet dangerous side effect to all stimulants: They stimulate the dopamine — or pleasure — center of the brain, which causes a feeling of euphoria and a loss of appetite. So it's no great surprise that the young and beautiful, many of whom have grown up bumming their friends' Adderall to increase their mental edge at exam time, do not necessarily want to give it up when studying is no longer the issue.

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