Adderall abuse on the rise
More young adults than ever are abusing Adderall, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. The stimulant is commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and can help those who take the medication stay focused, awake and alert.
Results of the study – which included analysis of three national surveys from 2006-2011 – show that while prescription rates for young adults have not changed, nonmedical use has increased 67.1 percent. This indicates that a rising number of young adults are using the drug without a prescription, which can be dangerous.
“Using a prescription drug that has not been prescribed for you personally is unwise and extremely unsafe,” says Dr. Maaza G-Amlak, a psychiatrist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Misuse of Adderall specifically can lead to increased irritability and loss of concentration and put you at risk for depression or cardiovascular issues.”
Emergency Department visits related to use of the stimulant also increased 155.9 percent, according to the study. Dr. G-Amlak cautions that abuse of the drug can have serious consequences.
“Without information and instruction from a physician, many people could misuse the medication by taking an incorrect dose or mixing it with other drugs or alcohol,” adds Dr. G-Amlak. “It is possible to overdose on Adderall, and taking too much increases your risk of problems such as heart attack and stroke. When it’s mixed with alcohol, you’re less likely to be able to tell when you’ve had too much to drink. This puts you at risk for alcohol poisoning in addition to those same cardiac problems.”
So how are people accessing Adderall without a prescription? The study found that the major supplier for nonmedical users are friends and family, two-thirds of whom obtained the medication with a prescription from a physician.
“While it may seem harmless, Adderall is highly addictive,” says Dr. G-Amlak. “Friends and family members might think they’re being helpful, but really they’re putting their loved ones in danger when sharing pills.”
Contact your doctor for an evaluation before taking any prescription medication or if you have questions or concerns regarding current medications.
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