Abuse of prescription medications have always been a medical concern in our country. If used as prescribed, medications can be very helpful in treating illness; however, they are also being misused and harmfully affect people’s physical/psychological health, cause addiction and sometimes result in death. Amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine (Adderall) is a psychostimulant, controlled substance, and schedule II medication that acts on the CNS. Primarily prescribed for the diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Recent studies have shown that many people are misusing and abusing Adderall for numerous reasons without knowing common risks which go along with using this drug. Adderall, also referred to as a “study drug,” has high potential for abuse and addiction.
Using such drug for a period of time can lead to drug dependence, malnutrition/weight loss, sudden death, serious cardiovascular events and mental distress (FDA, 2017). People taking Adderall recreationally are typically uneducated about the risks for adverse events. There’s plethora’s of mixed evidence of whether the drug taken by healthy individuals can improve memory, learning abilities, and cognitive control. Most conclusions are proposing that it does not improve memory, learning or cognitive control in healthy citizens (Ableman, 2017). More people today are experimenting with Adderall mainly for studying but also other reasons, leading to increased abuse of the drug.
According to Schwartz (2016), traditional uses of Adderall were predominately prescribed to children diagnosed with ADHD. This is a neurobehavioral affliction with characteristics of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. The diagnosis of ADHD requires symptoms to be present for six months. The age range associated with most diagnoses is from four-seventeen.
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In diagnosis, the male-to-female ratio is greater, therefore, females are less likely to be referred for therapy. ADHD is the most common chronic psychiatric disorder in children including three types of ADHD: primarily inattentive, primarily hyperactive/impulsive, and combined. Persistence of ADHD continues into adulthood for 70% of cases and adults are not routinely screened for ADHD. There is no known etiology but is expected as heterogeneous and research implicates a range of neurobiologic factors, including genetics (Gutierrez, 2008). Diagnosis of ADHD has increased over past decades, for example, an estimated 3%-5% of school-age American children were believed to have ADHD in the 1990s. Information given from the CDC reveals by 2013, diagnoses rose to 11% and continues to rise. Increasing diagnoses means there is an increase in prescriptions (Schwartz, 2016). In conclusion, there is more potential for abuse due to increased availability.
Adderall’s mechanism of action, is a noncatecholamine, sympathomimetic amine that promote release of catecholamine’s primarily (norepinephrine/dopamine) in the presynaptic nerve terminals from their storage sites. A less significant mechanism maybe include, inhibition of these catecholamine’s reuptake in the brain (Wynn, Meiller, & Crossley, 2016, p. 501). An imbalance of neurotransmitters (NT’s) for pleasure and cognition like dopamine/norepinephrine, is assumed to be the case for people diagnosed with ADHD. The drug is used for restoring, and attempts to balance the behaviors that are associated with the imbalanced NT’s. Over the decades, a surge of ADHD diagnoses has led many young adults to using it for non-traditional purposes like studying, staying awake longer, improved energy, and weight loss in ages 18-25. These people do not have ADHD, yet use the drug in belief it will improve cognitive functions, learning, memory, and management of appetite (Ableman, 2017). “Some authors believe that the drugs may increase the perception of work accomplished, energy, and motivation, but that actual cognitive ability remains unchanged. Other studies suggest there may be a mild improvement in learning and memory, but stronger studies are recommended to confirm these effects” (Ableman, 2017). People without ADHD often acquire stimulants from family members and friends with ADHD, who misuse the drug, by not completing their doses prescribed.
Outlook for the future would suggest that people using Adderall illegally should seek mental health professionals and understand the risks and side effects, people wouldn’t be so eager to find such a drug if they knew more about the negatives. Adults misusing prescription stimulants among the general population amplified by 67% and emergency room visits rose by 156% from 2006-2011 (Weyandt et al., 2016). If people knew the possible complications, then the abuse and incidences would decrease. Findings of misuse are mainly from the United States. Chiefly, academic and cognitive improvement appears to be the primary cause for misuse behavior (Weyandt et al., 2016).
Adderall® is a federally controlled substance (CII) because it can be abused or lead to dependence. Keep Adderall® in a safe place to prevent misuse and abuse. Selling or giving away Adderall® may harm others, and is against the law. (FDA, 2017) According to Fallah et al., (2018) medical students are potentially at greater risk of using non-medical stimulant drugs because of intense academic circumstances. For example, prolonged restlessness, stress, boosting ability to focus, and staying on task while doing school work. Stimulants like Adderall are common pharmaceuticals used for their sympathomimetic effects such as mood elevation, prolonging wakefulness, and improving memory. These are the leading factors increasing the occurrence of use within college students. A survey discussed from WIVBTV (2016) accounts that 17% of students report using study drugs without a prescription and 45% report knowing a friend who does, other reports are shown below in a screenshot from News 4 in a YouTube video.
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