A Troubling Trend: The Rise of Adderall Abuse

The opioid crisis has seen some national attention, and we’re relieved it’s gotten the spotlight it needs. However, another crisis has been going on unseen, quietly wrecking the lives of teens and young adults. Prescription stimulants such as Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse are addictive and deadly, and, like opioids, abuse rates are on the rise.

All over the country, Americans struggle with the consequences of substance abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, abuse of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs cost the nation over $700 billion in expenses related to crime, health care, and lost work productivity. At The Treatment Center, we’ve seen the human toll of those numbers.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a prescription-strength drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) and narcolepsy. It belongs to a family of stimulants and includes Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Concerta. They all work on the central nervous system and help people with ADHD focus on completing tasks and control bouts of impulsivity. They regulate excessive daytime sleepiness in those with narcolepsy.

Adderall helps people with ADHD and ADD stay calm and focused; for people without ADHD, it has the opposite effect, acting as an intense stimulant, and abuse is common. Physicians prescribe it for people of all ages, and people may get Adderall from a sibling, parent, or friend. But, unlike marijuana or cocaine, people who take Adderall recreationally don’t always realize that using, selling, or buying it beyond a prescription is illegal and dangerous. In a recent study of 18- to 28-year-olds, 40% of those surveyed were unaware that purchasing, selling, or using drugs without a prescription carried legal consequences.

Who Is Abusing Adderall?

High School Adderall Abuse Statistic InfographicWhen taken for ADHD or narcolepsy, prescription stimulants produce a slight euphoria, along with increased cognition and wakefulness. When taken beyond the clinical dose or by someone without those disorders, it can significantly increase energy, concentration, and memory. For this reason, Adderall college abuse is common – it’s often called the study drug on campus.

College students aren’t the only ones falling prey to prescription stimulants. Increasingly, high school students, competitive athletes, and weight trainers are abusing Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Adderall to recover quickly, combat fatigue, and increase stamina and strength. We’ve seen more addiction cases of people in the workforce who only needed to get through an exacting project or demanding week. Once they relied on the laser-like focus provided by prescription stimulants, they found it hard to rely on a clear mind to complete basic work processes.

Can Vyvanse Be Abused?

Those who abuse Adderall or Vyvanse don’t realize its dangers. College students studying for exams may take it for as long as a week, with little to no sleep. Because of behaviors like these, students are increasingly ending up in emergency rooms. In 2011, the last year the Drug Abuse Warning Network collected data, there were 23,000 emergency room admissions due to Adderall abuse, a four-fold increase from 2005.

The minds of adolescents and young adults aren’t developed enough to understand the full consequences of taking such drugs. Adderall and its relatives are Schedule II psycho-stimulants that increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. It’s as addictive as most other stimulants, with the exception of cocaine. People who abuse Adderall will quickly develop a tolerance, and, ultimately, an addiction that will require medical support and professional intervention.

What Are Adderall’s Side Effects?

Look at any Adderall blog, and you’ll find that abusing these drugs can lead to severe consequences. Once someone abusing prescription stimulants stops taking them, he or she will experience a battery of withdrawal symptoms – extreme mood swings, paranoia, severe depression, seizure, vomiting, fever, panic attacks, insomnia, and muscle pain.

Those who abuse Adderall may need professional intervention and detox services. When someone who is severely dependent on Adderall attempts to go “cold turkey,” disastrous and life-threatening consequences may result.

Can I Become Addicted To Adderall?

Knowing the potential side effects of Adderall and similar drugs, those who take it for narcolepsy or ADHD might be worried. Addiction can develop from taking too much, the frequency of use, and your body’s metabolism. If you’re taking Adderall under the supervision of your doctor, addiction is rare.

On the other hand, if you take Adderall in higher doses or more frequently than prescribed, you can become addicted within two weeks. Those who consistently take Adderall for “marathon studying” may become addicted in just a few days.

Preventing Adderall Abuse On Campus

To combat Adderall abuse on campus, some colleges have made abusing the drug tantamount to cheating. Duke and Wesleyan, for example, banned using prescription stimulants for academic performance enhancement, making it a violation of the honor code. Major League Baseball and the National Football League have followed suit because they recognize the danger of prescription stimulant abuse.

It’s time for the public to follow suit. Parents, talk to your teens about the consequences of Adderall abuse. If you’re a student or athlete, and you or someone you know is abusing stimulants, convince them to seek professional help.

The Treatment Center Advice For Adderall Dependency

At The Treatment Center, we’ve seen the devastating aftermath of Adderall addiction on teens and adults. Before you rely on a stimulant to get you through a tough patch, consider the potential effects – they could be much worse than a lower grade on a test or a late project.

Are You or a Loved One Suffering From Adderall Dependency?

Learn About Prescription Stimulant Addiction and Withdrawal