Adderall abuse in adolescents is a pervasive problem. The increase over past decades may be related to the increase in the number of prescriptions for ADHD and ADD disorders. The CDC found between 2003 and 2015 there was a 344% increase in women between 15 and 44 years old who filled a prescription for an ADHD medicine. As the drug has become more prescribed and more available, its misuse has also increased in both adults and adolescents over the years.
NIDA also cites several studies which have identified the association between prescription drug misuse and higher rates of cigarette smoking, alcohol use, marijuana use, cocaine use, and the use of other illicit drug use among U.S. adolescents, young adults, and college students.
While it’s true that some individuals will take any drug to achieve a “high”, the particular appeal and pervasiveness of Adderall is its perception as a “study drug” and its perceived ability to improve academic performance. But does Adderall really help provide students with an edge?
Adderall combines two stimulants: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which have the effect of increasing dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The drug increases alertness and focus, but that’s not necessarily an advantage. The intense focus reported can be directed toward distractions and prevent creative problem solving.
TIME magazine’s article Adderall May Not Make You Smarter, But It Makes You Think You Are highlights a study on whether Adderall actually offered improvement on tests. The study’s results, not surprising from the title, indicated that students didn’t actually perform better on tests of cognitive function. The drug did, however, provide students with an inflated sense of productivity. This is likely from the increase in dopamine released in the brain by the drug.
The placebo affect is also documented to have a strong affect with those taking the drug. A study done by a psychiatrist at the University of Alabama on Adderall’s affects on academic testing, found that students performed better simply believing they had taken the drug.
The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that about two-thirds of young adults get Adderall and other stimulants from their friends, roommates and family members with prescriptions.
(NIDA) reports among youth ages 12 to 17, 4.9% reported non-medical use of prescription medications in 2017.
Nearly 42% of high school seniors reported they thought amphetamines were easy to obtain (Monitoring the Future, 2015)
While stimulants have the potential for addiction, when used properly and monitored in coordination with a physician, there is minimum to no likelihood of becoming addicted to Adderall. It’s function, when used as directed, assists brain neurons in operating normally. When misused or used by individuals without a prescription, Adderall as with any other stimulant can be addictive.
Adderall abuse can be difficult to identify for parents or relatives if they aren’t aware of the side-effects and signs of abuse. While symptoms and affects can vary between people, common signs of Adderall abuse include:
If your teen is suffering from an Adderall addiction, it’s important to get help. Adderall overdoses can cause a coma, brain damage, or death. Significant dosages not only affect the brain, but the body’s core temperature, and can lead to cardiovascular complications. An addiction treatment center can be effective for some teens in getting clean from Adderall. The initial decline in dopamine levels from cessation can be a big struggle for teens looking to come off of the drug. An experienced clinical team of psychologists can help offer the therapy, support, and education for them to overcome this challenge.
Mood or behavior changes as Adderall can alter the brain if misused over a long period
Heart disease and other cardiovascular complications
Anxiety and increased aggression
Depression, paranoia, stroke, and seizures may occur in some cases
If you think you have an Adderall addiction, our experienced team can offer help at one of our modern locations in Colorado. Adderall addiction can be difficult to overcome by yourself. The first step is reaching out. We help people from across the United States get the help they need. Contact us today if you need help or would like more information.
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