When Adderall and other ADHD medications first hit the market, many people were encouraged that those suffering from the disorder would get the help they need. However, as time has passed it has become clear that drugs designed to help people maintain focus and overcome attention deficits have turned into drugs that are commonly abused.
High school and college students tend to abuse these drugs at higher rates than other groups, but some studies have shed light on the growing Adderall problem among professionals and stay-at-home moms, among other populations.
In 2009 a study showed that 5% of high school students in the United States admitted to abusing Adderall. This number jumped to 7% in 2013. And a recent review of studies found that at least 5% and as many as 35% of college students rely on prescription stimulants to get them through their workload. Many experts fear that this early reliance on chemicals only increases the chances that they will resort to further illicit drugs use.
The problem with Adderall, like most abused prescription drugs, is that the pills are very effective for their targeted uses. They allow someone who is suffering from ADHD to be more focused and alert on single tasks. Doctors cannot stop prescribing this medication altogether since it does help some people, but prescribing practices need to be improved to ensure that those who do seemingly benefit an still have access, while other people who misuse the drug aren’t able to obtain nearly as easily as they can now.
The prescription drug problem has put the spotlight on the medical profession, causing some doctors and administrators to shy away from readily prescribing anything that can be addictive. This has caused further problems. Similar situations have been found in other areas of medicine, especially pain management. One of the best ways to help this for doctors to recommend more treatments and therapies that aren’t pharmaceutically-based and that are often just as effective without the side effects or risk of being abused.
Typically, the demographic that seems to abuse prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin has been high school and college-aged students. The drugs are said to temporarily increase concentration and focus, but many people have become addicted to these drugs, as they are amphetamines.
A new trend has started to emerge regarding the abuse of ADHD medicine. Doctors throughout the country are starting to see more and more adults request and receive prescriptions for these stimulants, quite in addition to the rising number of diagnoses.
“What we do know about this is the number of prescription written for adults is far outpacing the number of ADHD diagnoses being made,” explained Dr. Holly Phillips to CBS News.
A paper was recently published in the British medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry that indicates the number of adults who are choosing to take ADHD drugs for “lifestyle” reasons may be in the millions. The American Journal of Psychiatry says that around 4.5% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD, however there are many more prescriptions being written for these stimulants.
The dangers in taking prescription stimulants are basically the same as taking any other form of amphetamine. Increased heart rate, agitation, sleeplessness, paranoia and a high potential for abuse and addiction. Seeking out a healthier lifestyle will typically produce much better results compared to these types of drugs. If you suspect you have a loved one who is hooked on a prescription stimulant, contact us today.
Researchers have been studying the potential link between adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and substance abuse. A study that is currently being conducted seems to prove that the two problems are share some commonalities.
By studying 1,778 14-year-olds, the research team was able to connect substance abuse and other disorders to the same area in the brain. The study asked the teens to do several tasks while undergoing an MRI, they were also asked to answer personality questions about themselves. The same tests were administered two years later as well.
While the results have not yet been published, some statistics from the study have been released. The research team found that of those tested 4.4% were classified as having ADHD. By the time the group reached the age of 16 the amount of them diagnosed with the disorder rose to 6.6%. The team also measured the amount of teenagers who were engaging in alcohol and/or other substance abuse. When the group was 14 years-old, 3.7% of them were abusing alcohol and 10.6% of them were abusing some sort of substance. When the group got tested at the age of 16 the numbers rose to 18.0% and 27.1%, respectively.
In order to establish a link between substance abuse and ADHD, the researchers used a statistical model to assess the risk factors that were linked to certain psychiatric symptoms. The outcome of using this model was that the research team could isolate three factors that linked substance abuse to an attention disorder.
Of the teens tested who had both a mood disorder and were ingesting drugs and/or alcohol, they had three common traits: impulsive action, impulsive choice and reward sensitivity. “Thrill or sensation seeking and abnormal activity in frontal brain regions when anticipating rewards differentiated youth who were uniquely at risk for alcohol misuse relative to those at risk for problems generally,” stated Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, who helped conduct the study.
By utilizing the data gathered in this research study, the hope is that the medical community will be able to identify early on those children who are at risk for substance abuse and intervene before there is a problem.