Teens and Adderall Abuse

Adderall is the brand name of a combination of two powerful central nervous system stimulants -- Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine. It is used primarily to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children and adults.

Dexamed (Dextroamphetamine sulfate) is a similar medication sometimes prescribed in Europe and other countries around the world. Other frequently abused ADHD drugs include methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin), Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), and Dexmethylphenidate (Attenade, Focalin).

The drugs have a high potential for addiction, especially when used by people who do not have ADHD. Adderall abuse is increasing rapidly, especially among individuals in their teens and early twenties.

Adderall: The Study Drug

The drug is often known as a “study drug” or a “smart drug” due to its reputation for enhancing concentration, memory, attention, alertness and motivation. Some high school and college students consider Adderall a miracle drug that allows them to stay awake longer and keep up with demanding classes and rigorous schedules.

Abuse of the drugs is most common during exam weeks. In the United States, an estimated 30 to 40 percent of college students report using Adderall or a similar drug during mid-terms and finals. All abusers aren’t students, however, and many teens and young adults use the drugs strictly for recreational purposes. Most get the drugs from friends or family.

There is no proof that Adderall users benefit academically. In fact, users of non-prescribed Adderall tend to have lower academic averages, and many use the drug in combination with heavy drinking or marijuana. All too often, students use the drugs to maintain an active social life while keeping up with demands of high school or college.

Risks of Adderall Abuse

Many people (including a surprising number of parents) think Adderall is a safer than illegal drugs purchased on the street, but the risks, which are just as dangerous, may include:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure

Regular abuse of Adderall or other prescription stimulants can quickly lead to dependence and addiction, and users may experience stimulant withdrawal such as severe cravings, depression and other unpleasant side effects when the drug is stopped.

Seek Treatment as Soon as Posslbe

If you think your child may be abusing Adderall, it’s important to seek help at a drug or alcohol treatment center or rehab as soon as possible. If you aren’t sure, watch for the following stimulant abuse symptoms:

  • Angry outbursts
  • Sudden weight loss, changing eating patterns
  • Staying up all night
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Jitters
  • Decline in overall health

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