What is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription drug often used to treat narcolepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It normally comes in the form of a tablet or time release capsule. According to data by the Monitoring the Future survey, usage of Adderall was among the highest for prescription, over-the-counter and illicit drugs other than marijuana, among high school seniors in 2015 at 7.5 percent.
What are its intended affects?
Adderall is an amphetamine, meaning it affects the central nervous system by releasing chemicals that increase certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and norepinephrine. This can help control a person’s impulses, increase concentration, focus, attention span and ultimately productivity. Although these are the intended benefits of the medicine in those who have ADHD or narcolepsy, it also has many side effects.
What are the side effects?
Adderall can definitely show an improvement in symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy, but when the drug is abused or used chronically, there is a greater risk of experiencing the following symptoms:
- Increased heart rate
- Nervousness or restlessness
- Trouble sleeping and staying asleep
- Dry mouth
- A numbing sensation in the extremities
How is Adderall abused?
Abuse occurs when someone buys or receives medication not prescribed to them from another person, uses their own medication but not following the medical instructions, or alters the medication. This can include by crushing, chewing, injecting, smoking or snorting it.
Who abuses Adderall?
Because Adderall can increase concentration and productivity, many teens and college students abuse this drug in an attempt to do well academically. Some estimate that as many as 30 percent of college students abuse the drug. Often referred to as a “study drug,” there is a tendency for abuse when academic environments are especially competitive.
Why is it so easy to get?
According to an article in the Business Insider, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found diagnosis of ADHD has risen 41 percent between the ages of 4 and 17 during the last decade, and nearly 20 percent of high school students get diagnosed with ADHD. While this may mean people are being better diagnosed, some believe the illness could actually be over diagnosed and over treated.
The diagnosis for ADHD is usually based on outward appearance of hyperactivity instead of biological or genetic tests, which can make the line between a true illness and an energetic personality a little fuzzy. Some children with even mild symptoms are given treatment as well, although it’s unclear whether mild hyperactivity merits a drug treatment like Adderall, which was made for more extreme symptoms.
Because there is such a high presence of this prescription medication, and possibly because people who simply want the pills may try to fake symptoms of hyperactivity, it can be easy for young people to obtain Adderall and abuse it.
What makes it so dangerous?
Many people who abuse Adderall do not realize how dangerous it can be to their health. CNN reported that in 2008, 81 percent of 1,800 college students surveyed said that it was either not at all dangerous or only slightly dangerous. This is a clear misconception, considering the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) ranks Adderall as a Schedule II substance, the second most dangerous drug category.
Dependency and addiction
Schedule II substances like Adderall are considered dangerous and likely to lead to abuse. They can cause both psychological and physical dependence, addiction and tolerance. Once a tolerance has developed, it will take higher and higher doses to give a person the same effects, which can lead to an overdose. Overdosing on Adderall can happen even on relatively low doses and has serious consequences such as hallucinations, confusion, fever, vomiting, rapid or irregular heartbeats and even lead to death.
Abusers will likely experience withdrawal
Because people abusing Adderall are likely to develop a dependency, stopping the medication also produces withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, low energy, headaches, aggression and irritable moods.
Aside from the physical consequences of drug abuse, there are legal consequences as well. Possessing, selling or using Adderall for reasons that are not proven medically is illegal and considered a felony.
If you or someone you know is abusing Adderall or any other prescription drug, it’s time to seek help. Call the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline of California to learn more. A qualified addiction specialist is available 24/7 to provide information on your treatment options.