How Taking Adderall Recreationally Affects Those Who Really Need It

by Rebecca Clark
Creative Commons

I don't think it's a very new or controversial thing for me to say that taking Adderall when you have not received a prescription poses many dangers to your health and safety.

I don't think it's surprising to learn that Adderall abuse can take a dangerous toll on your body, physically and mentally. Adderall is just like any other drug: If you haven't had a professional consultation with a physician, you probably shouldn't be taking it.

If you take Adderall recreationally, you're opening your body up to all kinds of possible dangers, such as it reacting with any other medications you may be taking.

But we all know this already, even people who abuse Adderall. And I'm not passing judgment. It's just like how everyone knows drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is bad for you, or doing hard drugs like cocaine or heroin, or smoking cigarettes is bad for you, but people do it anyway.

Myself included, I'm no saint. I've been drunk plenty of times, knowing perfectly well that being drunk wasn't good for my health.

But there's something different about Adderall compared to other drugs.

Adderall was huge at my university, especially during midterms and finals, and for good reason. It's a drug that's proven to help you focus, which allows students to study for longer periods of time and get more work done. And I understand the immense pressure to succeed academically. To an extent, I can't blame people for doing whatever necessary to see those results.

What I do think a lot of people who recreationally use Adderall don't consider is the fact that they're playing into the dangerous stigmas and stereotypes regarding mental health.

I'm pretty open about my struggles with anxiety and depression. I've been on Zoloft for about five years, and it's dramatically improved my life. Although I still have my bad days (as does everyone), I recognize how fortunate (for lack of a better word) I am to experience one of the more “mainstream” mental illnesses.

There are still stigmas attached to suffering from anxiety and depression, but they are nowhere near as serious as the stigmas attached to schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder or PTSD, among many other more “serious” conditions. Even ADHD, the disorder for which Adderall is prescribed, does not receive as much empathy as depression.

Any way you slice it, regardless of your condition, living with a mental illness sucks. There's no other way to describe it. Sure, some people (including myself) are thankful for some aspects of their struggle, whether it has helped them tap into their creativity, learn how to better understand themselves and the world or something else. But no one actively wants to be diagnosed with a mental illness.

We are ashamed to seek help because we are told there is nothing truly wrong with us. We are told that we need to suck it up, that some people have it worse than us, so we should be grateful. We are told that we're overreacting. We are told (and this is my favorite) to simply choose joy or to choose happiness, as if it's that easy.

We are afraid that we will be ostracized, met with judgment or berated, so we choose to keep quiet.

But some of us are able to break past that barrier to get help. I was fortunate enough to have extremely supportive and understanding family and friends and have received very little backlash for revealing my struggles with mental health, which again puts me in a much more privileged category than the majority of people who suffer from a mental disorder.

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with people using Adderall recreationally. People who abuse a prescription medication meant for those who truly need it perpetuate the idea that mental illnesses are not “real.”

By taking Adderall (or Xanax, or any other mental health-related prescription medication) for fun, it feels like a giant slap in the face to those of us with actual mental illnesses. It feels as if you're making a mockery of us.

I fear that as abuse of Adderall continues, it will get harder and harder for people who actually live with ADHD to receive the medication they so desperately need just to develop normality in their lives.

I am in no way passing judgment on people who use Adderall recreationally. You're not a terrible person, you don't deserve to burn in hell, I don't hope that you get sick or die as a result of your use, etc.

I just hope that recreational users recognize how they contribute to the already extremely repressing mindset surrounding mental health. I encourage people to take a moment to consider whether or not they want to be partially responsible for that stigma.

You could be partially responsible for someone feeling so afraid of society's perception of them, that they feel unable to reach out for help.

That's a big responsibility.