Prescription drug abuse has been consistently rising in the United States for the last several years -- and Adderall is no exception.
It's prescribed to patients who suffer from ADHD, increasing their ability to focus and pay attention in situations that would normally be distracting. For people like myself who don't have ADHD, Adderall creates a euphoria, while also increasing focus and alertness.
Adderall's illicit use took off when it became a popular “study drug” on university campuses. According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, college students were twice as likely to illegally use Adderall as their counterparts who are not in college.
College students claim the drug helps improve their academic performance and allows them to handle the high-stress demands of college life. Whether this is fully true or not, the drug certainly helps make a person feel like they are accomplishing a lot.
Like most college age users, I took Addy for the first time to be able do late-night activities, like staying awake to study.
A big reason Adderall use has increased is because of how accessible it is now. A 30 mg pill can produce effects that last up to six hours and cost around 10 dollars.
Most of the Adderall supply comes from people with prescriptions, but it can also be found on black market websites. Some people will fake ADHD symptoms to acquire a prescription for themselves or to sell. I can attest that it is very easy to get Adderall. I've had it prescribed by a doctor at the campus health facility. I've gotten it from friends diagnosed with ADHD who didn't like it.
After a while, I continued taking Addy, just generally wanting to stay awake, or even to go to parties and to have more motivation to do random other things.
Therein lies the problem; Adderall is not simply a “study drug.” Students who use Adderall in college are also more likely to use it in the workplace. After all, what works for a person in one scenario can be expected to work in multiple scenarios.
Adderall has become so popular that it has gone beyond campus and crossed over into the workplace. Adderall gives people the ability to work longer hours without losing focus, while ignoring feelings of fatigue.
Like college students, workers feel pressured to improve performance and succeed. According to AddictionCenter.com, “Although people tend to associate Adderall abuse with college students, many older people also use the drug.
In fact, most people who have received treatment for an Adderall addiction started taking it when they were approximately 23.”
Besides work and school, Adderall is often used to do everything in life, including relaxation. Recreational effects include a heightened sense of well-being, talkative nature, and jittery behavior.
Like most party drugs, Adderall is often taken while drinking, which causes users to misjudge their alcohol consumption. The combination of the two can result in an overdose and/or alcohol poisoning. Recreational users also have a higher probability that they will take similar stimulants like cocaine.
For those who have ADHD and are under doctor's care, the dosage remains mostly consistent.
There is a heavy awareness in the medical community about the addictive potential of Adderall. The euphoria Adderall produces dissipates over time, meaning that higher doses are required each time to reproduce the same effect.
CBS News reports, over a six-year period “non-medical use of the drug increased by 67 percent and emergency room visits skyrocketed by 156 percent.” Short-term abuse can lead to overdose, while long term abuse can cause irregular heartbeat and hypertension.
My experience with Adderall is consistent with these reports and the hallmark signs. After starting in college, I took it at work, and I took it at social events. I took it to stay awake for all the things I wanted to do and just generally to be jazzed.
What the professionals don't make clear is how Adderall is very similar to meth; it's just a slightly more acceptable version of meth. I discovered this when I found how hard it was to get away from Adderall. Once I finally had a family, I was taking Addy just so I could deal with being around people, such as other parents at soccer games.
As I realized the toll this was taking, I found it difficult to quit.
There was a distinct lack of motivation when I wasn't taking Adderall. Oddly, it was when I was not on it that I found myself trapped into many of the warning signs of drug abuse.
Off the drug, I just couldn't accomplish much of anything. Eventually, I went to counseling and came to understand that the drug was responsible for more of my life achievements than I was on my own.
After giving it up, it took a month or two to really feel normal in my own skin. I was exhausted a lot and went through quite a bit of depression as well, but that time really helped me understand the significance and not want to relapse.
Taking a pill once to accomplish a certain objective is way different than taking many pills over eight or nine years to accomplish everything.
It's a hard way to learn a lesson, but all things said and done, it was a positive experience coming to understand much of this. I ended up getting a different job that wasn't so demanding and didn't destroy my family. It turns out, I was pretty lucky.
While ADHD is still widely diagnosed, we have learned enough to know that the answer is not always to write a prescription. During the last eight or nine years, awareness to Adderall and prescription drugs overall has risen.
For one thing, in some places, doctors are held responsible for frivolously prescribing Adderall. Meanwhile, funding has increased for drug treatment programs across the country.
Still, Adderall use is expected to increase in the next few years, placing more onus on mental health counselors to be careful about who is prescribed this potentially dangerous medication.
If only it were as easy as just telling someone they shouldn't do something. However, it is tough to convince someone who is on a euphoric plane that someday they have to live in the real world.
It is tough to convince someone that they get more out of experiencing the hardships of life in a clear state of consciousness. Unfortunately, some people have to learn these lessons the hard way.
Fortunately, there is a lot of data and many personal experiences are handed down, so that college kids will hopefully get the message sooner than later.