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February 2019: Adderall Addiction

Adderall Addiction In Teens

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. 

The Huffington Post reports more than 3.5 million American children currently take an ADHD drug, a nearly 500% increase since 1990. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports among youth ages 12 to 17, 4.9% reported non-medical use of prescription medications in 2017. NIDA’s Monitoring the Future survey of substance use and attitudes in teens found that about 6% of high school seniors reported past-year non-medical use of the prescription stimulant Adderall in 2017. More than one in twenty high school seniors misused Adderall, a significant increase from the decade prior. 

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.  

Adderall As A “Study Drug”

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? 

Concentration & Focus 

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. 

Cognitive Performance

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. 

 

Quick Facts on Adderall Abuse

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) 

Drug-induced psychosis has been reported in 8%–46% of regular users of amphetamines (NCIB)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Adderall addictive?

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. 

Can Adderall increase my intelligence?

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, likely from the increase in dopamine released in the brain by the drug. 

Do I have an Adderall addiction?

According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th edition (DSM-5), there are eleven criteria defining a substance use condition including: 

  • Taking more of the substance than prescribed or for longer than the prescription indicates
  • If you have cravings or urges to continue or overuse the substance
  • Continuing to use the drug, even when you know its having negative physical or psychological effects
  • The development of withdrawal symptoms when you cease taking the drug

If you think you may have an Adderall addiction, CONTACT US today and speak with our admission team to talk about how to get help. 

What are the side effects of Adderall use?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) large doses of stimulants can result in psychosis, seizures, and cardiovascular events. Additional potential risks include: anorexia, constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, headache, insomnia, jitteriness, irritability, nausea, and sexual disfunction. Misuse can also affect and raise the body’s temperature which can present additional cardiovascular risks for athletes misusing the drug. 

The Signs of Adderall Abuse

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:

  • Weight loss, the drug has the side effect of suppressing hunger. 
  • Disruption in sleep patterns or sleeping difficulties. You may notice your teen staying up throughout the night repeatedly. 
  • Sudden or gradual deterioration in self-care (showering, grooming, etc.) is an indication drug abuse may be occurring. 
  • Behavior changes, including theft, may occur to fund their continued use. You may also notice an increase in social isolation. 

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.

Long-Term Effects of Adderall Abuse

Mood or behavior changes as Adderall can alter the brain if misused over a long period

Drug-induced psychosis has been reported in 8%–46% of regular users of amphetamines (NCIB)

Heart disease and other cardiovascular complications 

Anxiety and increased aggression

Depression, paranoia, stroke, and seizures may occur in some cases

Get Help At One Of Our Locations

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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