ADHD Drugs: Improper Use Among Adults is on the Rise

The working world is a significant source of stress for many adults these days, and studies indicate that workplace stress is escalating with each decade. As the pressure cooker working environment becomes more demanding, stressed out, exhausted adults are increasingly turning to prescription ADHD drugs such as Adderall, Concerta or Ritalin to help them get more work done, improve concentration, boost productivity, or get an edge over the competition. In some cases, drugs provide the motivation to get through dull, mind-numbing tasks. Sometimes, they are used simply because they makes people feel better.

Researchers aren’t sure how serious the problem is, primarily because studies have concentrated on the growing problem of ADHD drug use among college students, who use the drugs to cram for tests, stay awake for long study sessions or for recreational purposes. However, use among working people in their twenties, thirties and forties is rising fast, and there is definitely a huge gap between the number of prescriptions written and the number of adults who are legitimately diagnosed with ADHD.

Finding ADHD drugs isn’t difficult. Some people lie about their symptoms to get prescriptions from physicians, and many health care providers are uninformed and thus provide prescriptions for patients who haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD. If doctors aren’t amenable, Adderall and other ADHD drugs are easy to find on the streets or from other sources, including the Internet. Pharmaceutical companies are benefiting from the trend, and as a result, are focusing more of their marketing dollars not on children, but adults.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, three to five percent of children are diagnosed with ADHD and they should be treated properly and according to the latest research evidence. ADHD is now recognized as a major risk factor for addiction and thus early diagnosis and treatment are vital.

However, the use of ADHD drugs among “non-diagnosed” people in colleges and the workplace are becoming a serious health problem. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), emergency room visits related to nonmedical use of ADHD drugs and other prescription stimulants has tripled in recent years. Similarly, drug and alcohol rehab and treatment centers are reporting a growing number of adults seeking treatment for addiction to ADHD drugs.

Misuse of ADHD drugs can result in a number of side effects. Many effects, such as nausea, dry mouth, upset stomach or headaches are relatively mild. However, effects can be more serious and repeated or long-term use may include anxiety, paranoia, hostility, hallucinations, increased body temperature, hypertension, seizures, increased heart rate and various cardiovascular problems. Of course, addiction is a serious concern, and withdrawal from the drugs can result in anxiety, phobias, anger, insomnia, extreme fatigue, depression and suicidal thoughts.

If you are concerned about your use of ADHD medications, there are several warning signs that your drug use may be spiraling out of control:

  • You believe you can’t get through the day without using the drugs.
  • Your drug use is routine and no longer occasional.
  • You believe your performance or success at work is directly attributable to ADHD drugs, and that without the drugs, you are bound to fail.
  • You don’t tell other people (especially non-users) about your use of ADHD drugs.
  • You spend much of your time thinking about using or attaining the drugs.
  • You take increasingly larger amounts of the drugs.
  • You feel angry or defensive if friends or family attempt to discuss your drug use.

It’s important to seek help as soon as possible, as addiction only gets more serious with time. Drug treatment professionals will ensure that withdrawal from ADHD drugs is as comfortable as possible. Once the drug has safely left your system, addiction treatment can help you manage workplace stress and return to a healthier, substance-free life.

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