According to a joint investigative report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and MedPage Today, Adderall abuse is on the rise in the United States. The report states that legal amphetamines, prescribed as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs, are causing a “trail of misuse, addiction, and death,” and are following a similar path as opioids. Since 2013, there have been more than 19,000 reports of complications from drugs used to treat ADHD (e.g. Adderall) made to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of those reports, adults were far more likely than children to suffer severe complications, such as hospitalization and death. According to the latest available federal data, among those 26 and older, recreational use of Adderall rose fourfold from 345,000 people in 2006 to 1.4 million in 2014. And in emergency rooms around the nation, the number of cases involving two ADHD medicines nearly quadrupled over seven years. The data show that these drugs, which have been promoted heavily by the pharmaceutical industry, are leading to abuse, addiction, and even death.
Just twenty years ago, adult ADHD was rarely diagnosed. Over the last decade, it has become a “part of mainstream medicine.” This increase has been fueled by a push from pharmaceutical companies and relaxed standards of diagnosis. Between 2010 and 2015, sales of ADHD medications increased from $7.9 billion to $11.2 billion, while prescriptions increased from 67 million to 87 million. Nicolas Rasmussen, a medical historian who studies the history of amphetamines in the nation, states “the streets are awash with Adderall…amphetamines are grossly overused.”
While opioids are more fatal than prescription stimulants, some experts see similarities between the opioid epidemic and the increase in problems related to stimulants. In terms of the opioid epidemic, users switch from prescription painkillers to heroin and fentanyl. With ADHD drugs, patients often switch from legally prescribed stimulants to illegal ones, such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Other similarities include the loose criteria for diagnosing conditions and the large amount of prescription drug options.
Adderall is a powerful stimulant often abused to enhance productivity and alertness. In many cases, students and young professionals are the cohorts most misusing Adderall. Adderall is the most commonly prescribed amphetamine and is classified as a schedule II controlled substance due to its strong addictive potential. Signs of Adderall abuse may include: loss of appetite, being overly talkative, unusual excitability, financial struggles, social withdrawal, aggression, sleeping for long periods of time, and secretive behavior.
Over time, those who habitually use Adderall develop a tolerance to it and are unable to function normally without the drug. Adderall works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, and dopamine creates a rewarding effect. Although dopamine occurs naturally, drugs such as Adderall produce extremely high levels of it. Some common signs of an Adderall addiction include: increased tolerance (needing larger doses to feel the drug’s effects), taking the drug despite the negative consequences and dangers, not being able to finish work without it, being unable to feel alert without it, and spending lots of money getting the drug.
Effects of Adderall Abuse
Like many other drugs, prescription stimulants, such as Adderall, can be abused and lead to a substance use disorder. Many people who abuse Adderall assume that the drug is safe because it is prescribed by a doctor. In reality, Adderall is a potent stimulant that can lead to serious and potentially fatal effects. A major concern for people who abuse Adderall over an extended period of time is the risk of cardiovascular issues. Because Adderall is a stimulant, it plays a significant role in increasing your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature to dangerous levels. These three factors combined are linked to serious medical issues like stroke and cardiac arrest.
Adderall can also cause physical changes in the brain. This may lead to changed behaviors and the development of mental disorders, like depression. Some of the side effects of Adderall abuse include:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Irregular heartbeat
In addition, Adderall can be dangerous when mixed with other substances like alcohol. Adderall masks certain indicators of intoxication that people often use to slow down or stop their consumption of alcohol. When these intoxication signs go unnoticed, the user is at risk of continued drinking, which can lead to alcohol poisoning, coma, or death. Mixing Adderall with other drugs increases the risks of overdose. In fact, in 2009, 67% of people admitted to an emergency room for complications with prescription stimulants such as Adderall had other drugs in their system.
Summit Detox Can Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Adderall or other stimulants, Summit Detox can help. As we mentioned earlier, Adderall abuse is on the rise in the United States. The longer a person has been abusing stimulants, the stronger the addiction becomes. Withdrawal symptoms that start shortly after quitting Adderall can make it challenging to stop using on your own. At Summit Detox, you will receive the medical help and emotional support you need to stop abusing drugs and alcohol. Our compassionate and experienced staff will ensure that you detox safely and comfortably. To begin your new life in recovery, call us today at (888) 995-5265.