For many young adults, college is the first time where they really feel pressure to perform without having the necessary support system in place. Instead, expectations and responsibilities increase while maturity and decision-making skills have yet to meet the demand while the desire to fit in can be more of an influence. The build-up combines to create a perfect storm where things like substance abuse can easily creep in. Increasingly, drugs of choice among these college students include prescription stimulants like Adderall.
A study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that this activity is continuing to grow, despite concentrated efforts in education and prevention for high school and college students. Researchers were able to conclude that use of amphetamines like Adderall or Ritalin is highest among 15 to 25 year-olds. This portion of the population seems to struggle the most when it comes to staying away from these drugs. The study showed that between 2006 and 2011 the amount of people abusing these pills in this age bracket rose 67%. Additionally, the amount of people that were admitted into the emergency room for complications related to Adderall use rose by 156%.
“Many of these college students think stimulants like Adderall are harmless study aids. But there can be serious health risks and they need to be more aware,” explained Ramin Mojtabai, co-author of the study and professor of mental health at the Bloomberg School.
Some of the health risks associated with Adderall abuse are mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and aggressive behaviors. Additionally, people who abuse these medications are also more likely to suffer from sleep problems, such as not being able to fall asleep and then crashing and sleeping for extended time periods of time.
As with other prescription drug problems, one major change that needs to occur is the overall prescribing habits of doctors who flood the market with these pills. They’re given them out by the handful and it’s too easy for young people to get a hold of them. Of course the most important elements of a successful campaign to reduce prescription stimulant abuse include effective drug prevention and addiction treatment programs.