How Prevalent is Adderall Abuse Among College Students?
Adderall is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine. It is a strong central nervous system stimulant that is used primarily to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Even scientists aren’t sure how speed improves concentration or calms people who are prone to fidget.
Adderall’s effects are similar to those of cocaine, and it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance because of its high potential for increased tolerance leading to addiction. To date, there is little research into its long-term effects.
Adderall abuse is widespread in the U.S. Young people between ages 18 and 25, particularly college students, are the worst offenders. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, full-time students abuse Adderall at twice the rate of their peers who don’t attend college. On college campuses, it’s the second-most common drug of abuse. Only marijuana is more popular.
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Where Do Students Obtain Adderall?
Around two-thirds of young adults get their Adderall supply from friends, roommates or relatives who have prescriptions. Many buy pills from dealers. Since there is no definitive clinical test for ADHD — doctors base diagnoses largely on symptoms and the observations of parents and teachers — faking symptoms to get a prescription is common.
Students may be surprised to learn that sharing their pills, borrowing someone else’s pills, selling, buying or stealing pills, faking symptoms and taking pills at the wrong dose all constitute prescription fraud which is a felony.
Even worse, becoming addicted to Adderall poses serious health risks. Between 2006 and 2011, Adderall-related emergency room visits spiked by more than 156 percent.
What’s the Attraction of Using Adderall?
At correctly prescribed doses in patients with ADHD, Adderall improves focus, sharpens mental acuity and provides a small energy boost for more productive study. Like many drugs, Adderall also increases levels of a natural brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine enhances feelings of well-being, confidence and reward.
College students who face a long night of cramming for finals often bump up the dose or enhance it with a high-caffeine energy drink. In theory, they can stay awake all hours, absorb everything they study, have perfect recall of the material the next day and ace the test.
In reality, things seldom work out that way. For one thing, Adderall makes no difference whatsoever if you don’t have ADHD. Indeed, that’s one of the biggest factors in diagnosis: If you take Adderall and concentration doesn’t improve, ADHD is not the problem.
For recreational use, it’s cheaper than cocaine and provides many of the same perceived benefits. Someone who is shy or suffers from low self-esteem might take Adderall to have more fun at a party. Unfortunately, like cocaine’s effects, Adderall’s are short-lived at high doses. Coming down is disappointing and unpleasant, so higher doses are required for the same sense of confidence and euphoria. The life of the party eventually becomes annoying, overly talkative, excitable, irritable or downright impossible to be around.
Other attractions for college students are increased libido and sexual stamina. Adderall may work that way for a night or two, but it has the opposite effect as tolerance increase.
Snorting Adderall is even more dangerous than taking it orally. People looking for immediate, intense effects crush pills into a powder and snort it like cocaine.
That’s a good way to destroy your nasal and sinus cavities over just a few weeks. Snorting also exacerbates the negative side effects, such as irregular heartbeat, shown below. You can overdose on Adderall by just taking too many pills, but snorting exponentially increases risk.
At the very least, taking a little extra for nonmedical reasons makes you hyperactive, overly talkative and insomniac. Here are the more serious side effects of using long term at high doses:
- Rapid or difficult breathing
- Increased or irregular heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
- Inability to sleep or sleep disturbances
- Nausea, diarrhea or constipation
- Difficulty speaking
- Nervousness or paranoia
- Excitability, aggression, anxiety or hostility
- Excessive fatigue
- Numbness in the extremities
- Rash, hives or blistering skin
- Sexual dysfunction
- Suicidal thoughts
Abusing Adderall is so dangerous that the Food and Drug Administration mandates a black-box warning on the label.
No one intends to become addicted to a legal drug that is prescribed by competent doctors every day. It’s the same with prescription painkillers. They’re a godsend for people who require surgery, are injured in an accident or live with chronic pain long term. Painkillers are largely safe when used as directed under the supervision of a doctor, but taking just one extra pill or combining it with another drug, such as alcohol, can have catastrophic, life-changing results.
You may be in danger of becoming addicted to Adderall if you’re taking more than your doctor prescribed, taking it by a non-approved method or taking it without a prescription. Other red flags include those below:
- Trying repeatedly to stop without success
- Feeling tired or mentally foggy when you’re not using
- Lying about Adderall use
- Watching your academic performance decline
- Stealing pills or spending a lot of money buying them
- Losing interest in friends and social activities
Our caring staff at Desert Cove Recovery is highly experienced with Adderall abuse. Call us today for sound advice on breaking free and reclaiming your life.