Why is Adderall Abuse Normalized in College Settings?
Adderall, a stimulant consisting of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, is commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adderall is widely diverted and abused, particularly by young adults attending college.
A survey by the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that in 2015, some 425,000 adolescents ages 12-17 abused or misused prescription stimulants, including Adderall. However, the number of young adults ages 18-25 who abused or misused amphetamines was about fivefold, or nearly 2.5 million, the same year.
The pressure to succeed in college is often cited as a reason for taking Adderall without a prescription. Ironically, while Adderall’s allure as an aid to the rigorous demands of studying, working, and other activities appeals to some students, abuse or misuse of the drug often leads to lower grades, according to several reports.
Other college students misuse Adderall as a recreational drug, strictly for its stimulant effect. The 2015 SAMHSA study found that about 7 percent of college students reported recreational use of Adderall, the highest rate in recent years.
Misuse or abuse of Adderall is defined as taking it without a legal prescription, taking more of the drug or taking it more frequently than prescribed, or taking it in a way not prescribed, such as crushing the pills and snorting the drug. Since Adderall is widely available on college campuses, there’s a tendency to think, “everybody does it, so what’s the harm?” In fact, the potential harms are many.
Effects of Adderall abuse include:
- Weakness of the limbs
- Racing heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing, or chest pain
- Rash, hives, blisters, or peeling skin
- Vision problems
Adderall overdose may result in:
- Hallucinations, or delirium
- Panic attacks
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Loss of consciousness, or coma.
Adderall addiction is marked by an increasing tolerance to and dependence on the drug to feel “normal.” Withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression.
If you or someone you care about is abusing Adderall, seek help without delay. Addiction is a progressive, incurable, and fatal disease if left untreated. However, help is available, and you don’t have to suffer any longer. Remember: You are not alone.
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