Prescription amphetamine abuse nearly doubled between 2008 and 2013. Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta and other amphetamine medications have become an increasing problem. Adderall heart attacks, stroke, circulatory issues and seizures are some of the most extreme complications that can arise from overuse and abuse.
Prescription amphetamines have been dubbed “study drugs” due to their motivation- and insomnia-inducing effects. Students believe this energized sleeplessness will help them study for finals or work on homework for longer periods of time.
Adderall Abuse by the Numbers
In 2015, the University of Michigan conducted its annual “Monitoring the Future” survey asking adults about their alcohol and drug use. Among college students, 10.7% used non-prescribed Adderall. Of their non-collegiate counterparts, 7.7% used the drug.
Rates of use have increased at the collegiate level as well. In the 2014 survey, 9.6% of college students reported Adderall use. The usage rates in non-collegiate students decreased from 7.8%. The higher rates of use among college students, with 1 in every 10 university students using non-prescribed Adderall, suggest a growing problem in universities. Awareness of prescription painkiller abuse has heightened but that same attention needs to be broadened to the abuse of prescription amphetamines as well.
The Line Between Use and Abuse
When does Adderall use become a problem? If it’s not taken per doctor’s orders, this is a red flag. Also, if use of the drug impacts the life of the user in negative ways, such as skipping classes to use the drug or losing interest in activities or hobbies, the drug has become a problem.
Studies show that students who use Adderall without a legitimate prescription are more likely to use cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and other harmful drugs. When other drugs are used in combination with Adderall heart attacks and other major complications have a much higher rate of occurrence.
Health Risks Associated With Adderall Abuse
Many college students are unaware of the potential health risks associated with Adderall abuse.
Short-term side effects of Adderall abuse include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Numbness of extremities
- Motor tics
The health effects of long-term Adderall abuse may include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Heart attack
The control over prescriptions for painkillers has increased, but should America also consider tightening the regulation of prescription amphetamines? It’s become more difficult to accurately diagnose ADHD due to individuals over-exaggerating symptoms or fabricating them entirely in order to receive prescriptions.
Prescription medication abuse is difficult to regulate without impacting the individuals who truly need it. Since the rates of prescription amphetamine abuse are increasing, though, we need a solution that doesn’t impact the ability of individuals with true ADHD diagnoses to receive their medications.
“Monitoring the Future” National Institute on Drug Abuse
“Non-medical use of prescription stimulants among US college students: prevalence and correlates from a national survey” McCabe SE, Knight JR, Teter CJ, Wechsler H