Adderall Abuse: Who’s Abusing it More?

Last Updated: Nov 22nd 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky

Adderall Abuse: Who’s Abusing it More?

Adderall addiction is yet another drug issue hurting communities nationwide. More specifically, our students. From high schools to college campuses, Adderall is becoming the drug of choice for many young people, and many end up needing addiction treatment for this substance.

Students rely on Adderall to help them get school work done. It’s a drug that temporarily increases focus and productivity. Thus, it’s even more dangerous for these students as they believe that Adderall correlates with success.

Recognizing the signs of Adderall abuse can help stop addiction in its tracks. Keep reading to learn more about how Adderall abuse is hurting students across the nation. 

What is Adderall? 

Adderall is a prescription medication that contains two drugs: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall works by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system. Norepinephrine impacts your brain’s response to events. More specifically, it affects how the brain pays attention and the speed at which it reacts to outside stimuli. 

Adderall produces unnaturally high levels of dopamine. Dopamine is the body’s “feel good” chemical which also creates a rewarding effect. These are the kind of effects that can make Adderall highly addictive. The brain of an addicted person relies on Adderall to stimulate a focused and productive state.

Using Adderall for an extended amount of time means that the user will develop a tolerance to the drug. Developing a tolerance means that functioning without the substance will become difficult. Without Adderall, addicted individuals often feel fatigued and mentally foggy.

It’s important to become aware of the signs of Adderall abuse. If you or a loved one is addicted to Adderall, you can seek help today for a better future.

What is Adderall Addiction?

Adderall addiction is when the individual grows a severe dependency on the drug. The user will take Adderall every day, often more than they were prescribed. If Adderall is being used recreationally, then the individual will eventually need to use more to feel the same effects. Using Adderall recreationally is just as dangerous as using it when prescribed and developing an addiction.

Addiction affects thousands of people in thousands of communities. It hurts individuals, families, and those around them. Adderall addiction can be spotted by becoming aware of the signs of Adderall abuse. 

The symptoms of Adderall abuse are simple to spot if you’re paying attention. Don’t let addiction rob you of another day.

Signs of Adderall Abuse

Adderall has a high potential for abuse. Recognizing the signs of Adderall abuse early on is crucial. The worst-case scenario of any addiction is a fatal overdose. The best way to avoid an overdose is to become aware of the signs of Adderall abuse. Once you’re aware of what’s happening, the road to recovery can begin.

As with any chemical dependency, subtle changes in personality and behavior may go unnoticed. Concerned individuals should look for the following signs in themselves or their loved ones:

● Loss of appetite

● Unusual talkativeness

● Excitability

● Withdrawal from normal social interaction

● Financial issues

● Uncalled for aggression

● Changing sleep patterns

● Secretive behavior

● Exhaustion

● Significant weight loss 

● Incomplete thoughts & memory loss

●Problems maintaining relationships 

● Lack of personal hygiene

● Disorientation, mania & impulsive behaviors

Abusing Adderall can quickly lead to addiction and overdose. As tolerance increases, more of the substance is taken to achieve the same effects. In another case, let’s say someone stops taking Adderall cold-turkey. 

If they return to using the drug at the same level, they may experience a reduced tolerance followed by an overdose. The signs of Adderall abuse are equally as important to understand as the symptoms of an overdose. 

Symptoms of Adderall overdose include:

● Anxiety & panic attacks

● Hallucinations

● Hyperventilating

● Irregular heartbeat

● Loss of consciousness

● Severe confusion

● Tremors

● Vertigo

Adderall Abuse Across the Nation

Adderall is a drug that’s being abused across the nation. Statistics reveal a scary truth to us all. Students are severely affected by this, especially those in college and high school. These early on-set habits have the potential to turn into full-fledged drug addiction. 

Did you know that between 2006 and 2011, nonmedical use of Adderall and emergency room visits involving the drug increased significantly, while treatment visits stayed the same? This shows us that many Adderall users don’t see themselves as having a problem. Adderall misuse rose 67 percent, and ER visits went up 156 percent, with family and friends serving as the primary source. 

Young adults (age 18-25) made up 60 percent of those using Adderall for nonmedical reasons, as stated by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

To make matters worse, the number of adults filling a benzodiazepine prescription increased 67 percent (from 8.1 million to 13.5 million) between 1996 and 2013. The total quantity filled more than tripled. During this same period, the overdose death rate for benzodiazepines more than quadrupled, according to the American Journal of Public Health.

As we break down these statistics, it helps to understand the demographics affected. Signs of Adderall abuse can be spotted more easily when we’re aware of who is affected the most.    

High School Students

Steve Pasierb, President, and CEO of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, said it best:

“The rates of Adderall misuse and abuse among high school seniors remain unacceptably high and the new data makes it very clear: the abuse of all prescription medicines is an immediate threat to the health of America’s teens.”

Furthermore, the Monitoring the Future survey revealed that usage of Adderall among high school seniors in 2015 reached 7.5 percent – among the highest usage levels for prescription, over-the-counter and illicit drugs other than marijuana. 

Adderall addiction is posing a major danger to our students early on. High schoolers then bring their Adderall use to college. It’s a toxic cycle that creates generations of Adderall users. 

It’s even more dangerous when these students encounter other students using Adderall the same way they are. Addiction becoming normalized is another major threat that’s being posed.

College Students

Adderall is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine. When it comes to college students, the goal of using Adderall is to increase productivity. Many students feel that they work significantly better when on Adderall. 

According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, full-time students abuse Adderall at twice the rate of their peers who don’t attend college. On college campuses, it’s the second-most common drug of abuse. The only other drug that’s more popular is marijuana.

National research also shows that full-time college students between the ages of 18 to 22 years old are twice as likely as those who are not full-time students to report using Adderall. College students are abusing Adderall at an extremely high rate. To make matters worse, college students don’t feel like using Adderall is particularly dangerous. 

In 2016, a national survey indicated that 38.5 percent of college-age individuals (19 to 22 years old) reported that regularly taking these drugs for nonmedical purposes did not pose a “great risk” of harm.

Graduated College Students

Our college students are facing a serious problem with Adderall addiction. Unfortunately, recognizing signs of Adderall abuse is nearly impossible if they’re not even aware that there’s an issue at hand. 

This early dependency on Adderall creates a bad habit for many. So much so, that it can even be continued in the workplace. 

In 2010, a student by the name of Raphael was a first-semester college freshman struggling to get through finals. He then decided to try Adderall. After all, it seemed like that’s what most of his friends were doing to get by. Raphael noticed a major difference in his productivity which turned him on to more frequent use. 

This more frequent use then started to follow him into the workplace. Alan Schwarz is an author of ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharma, and the Making of an American Epidemic. He talks a lot about how millennials are graduating into the workplace, and many of them are continuing to use prescription stimulants as job-performance enhancers. 

“It stands to reason that if you feel as if you succeeded in college partly because of these drugs, you’re more likely to feel as if you need them to succeed in the workplace,” Schwarz says.

Schwartz conducted a lot of studies to get to the bottom of who exactly is using Adderall in the workplace. Turns out, it’s not reserved for one industry. Schwarz spoke to a glassblower, a yoga teacher, a beer-warehouse stacker, newspaper reporters, bartenders, professors, dentists, doctors, and truck drivers who all acknowledged taking Adderall to power through their work.

This reveals a truth to us all: Adderall abuse and addiction can affect anyone. However, there is a trend taking place. College students using Adderall is far more than just a way to get through finals. It’s the beginning of an addiction that caries itself into other areas of their lives. 

Adderall Addiction Doesn’t Have to Last: Get Help Today

There is a way out of Adderall addiction. Recognizing the early signs of Adderall abuse can save you from an addiction early on.

At 1st Step Behavioral Health in Pompano Beach, Florida, you can begin the road to recovery. With proper treatment and care, you can get better. Call us at (866) 319-6126 to learn more about available Adderall addiction treatment programs at 1st Step Behavioral Health. You can also contact us here.

References:

http://monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/monographs/mtf-vol2_2016.pdf

http://www.cpamm.org/wp-content/uploads/Nonmedical-use-of-Adderall-among-full-time-college-students-National-Survey-on-Drug-Use-and-Health-copy.pdf

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/monitoring-future-2015-survey-results

https://www.centeronaddiction.org/the-buzz-blog/do-we-have-amphetamine-problem-college-campuses

https://qz.com/812604/millennials-took-adderall-to-get-through-school-now-theyve-taken-their-addiction-to-the-workplace/

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.