In the last decade, the use of prescription stimulants such as methylphenidate and amphetamine compounds for reasons other than the prescribed medication has developed to be a serious problem in the United States and abroad. The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved several Prescription stimulants for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as drugs such as Adderall have been found to reduce symptoms of impulsivity, inaction, and hyperactivity (Weyandt, et.al 2016). However, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies prescription stimulants as Schedule II medication alongside morphine and codeine as they are highly abused. Continuous and non-prescribed misuse of Adderall may result in psychological and physiological dependence to the drug although people especially the young generation have been ignoring measures taken to control its use (Palamar & Le, 2017). As a result, prescription stimulants are classified as part of controlled substances under the federal and state laws and those found misusing them are subject to criminal charges. Therefore, this paper will explore the use and effects of non-prescribed stimulants among students and young adults.
Misuse of Adderall Among Students and Young People
The number of learners with ADHD have increased over the years. Consequently, availability, use, and misuse of prescribed Adderall and other prescription stimulants have risen sharply among students without the disorder. According to a study carried out by Chen and Colleagues in 2016, the abuse of prescription stimulants increased by approximately 67 percent between the year 2006 and 2011 (Weyandt, et.al 2016). During this period emergency room cases related to the use of these drugs also rose by 156 percent. Unfortunately, students and young people are the most vulnerable group to misuse of prescription stimulants with studies indicating a prevalence rate of 16 to 43 percent (Weyandt, et.al 2016). Mostly, the main motivation to Adderall use among learners is that the drug enhances their cognitive and academic performance. However, based on investigation abuse of prescription stimulants appears to work against students' perception as it is negatively associated with academic performances. Other motives to use of Adderall include recreational reasons, weight loss and to exterminating curiosity. A number of students engage in misuse of Adderall for more than one reason making it a habit.
A considerable number of students also perceive the college environment as high pressure, fast-paced and distraction bound. As a result, some learners fall behind their academic performance expectations obliging them to seek assistance from stimulants. Students who are disorganized, restless and depressed also have a high risk of using Adderall. However, learning institutions have swung into action terming the use of prescription drugs as cheating. In fact, this has been compared to the use of steroid in athletic performance enhancement. Students found to use stimulants to enhance their performance would, therefore, meet the disciplinary actions (Varga, 2012). Likewise, based on finding by the Health Resource and Services Administration's National Survey of Children Health, male children are four times likely to be diagnosed with ADHD as compared to females. Consequently, the usage rate of prescription stimulants among male is much higher than with females.
Effects of Misuse of Adderall
Adderall and other prescription stimulants are addictive and consistent and recreational use of these drugs may increase the chances of developing a physical and psychological dependence on them (Mechcatie, 2019). Mainly, Adderall increases concentration and energy levels while decreasing the need for sleep or fatigue. It accomplishes this by affecting the neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. For instance, prolonged abuse of Adderall changes the dopamine activity and the ability of the brain's reward center. Consequently, it becomes difficult for Adderall abusers to experience pleasure without the chemical support of the drug (Petersen, Norgaard & Traulsen, 2015). The more often one keeps relying on prescription stimulants, the more he or she gets ingrained to these changes. In fact, a tolerance to the drugs may form, which will require the abuser to require more Adderall dose in order to feel desirable effects and perform everyday activities.
Overdosing or dependence on stimulant medication such as Adderall have grave health consequences. For instance, liver, brain, kidney, cardiovascular system, and the heart are some of the human organs adversely affected by the misuse of Adderall. Being able to focus accurately and sharpening concentrate without substantial effort, sleeping, or eating concern comes with long-term Adderall abuse effects. The manner in which Adderall is used influences the way and speed it get into the brain system (Lakhan & Kirchgessner, 2012). For example, they are those who crush the pills and then snort or inject them, which has been found to have immediate effects as compared to swallowing them and having the substance enter the bloodstream via digestion system. In most cases, injecting and snorting of Adderall may cause psychosis, which is a mental condition characterized by loss of contact with reality. Likewise, Adderall abuse also causes schizophrenia-like symptoms including hallucination, paranoid delusion, mood swings, and behavioral changes. Addicts also suffer from panic attacks and anxiety once they tend to withdraw from drug use.
Excessive use of Adderall can also cause a rise in body's temperature and malfunction of the regulatory system. In most cases, this condition is known as hyperthermia and can lead to fatigue, thirst, nausea, unconsciousness, or permanent brain damage (Lakhan & Kirchgessner, 2012). Additionally, uncontrolled use of Adderall, especially among addicts, can cause internal brain bleeding resulting in confusion, being into a coma, and paralysis. The kidney is another primary body organ affected by Adderall misuse. The misuse of stimulant medication makes it difficult for the kidney to remove waste and extra water from the bloodstream. As a result, addicts whose kidney have been affected suffer from imbalance body chemical, which can result in severe health complications such as abdomen pains, bruising, and inflamed body parts.
The heart and the cardiovascular system are also affected negatively by the misuse of stimulant medication. For example, high blood pressure and irregular heart rate are some of the commonly reported cases in the emergency rooms among Adderall abusers (Lakhan & Kirchgessner, 2012). Prolonged use of Adderall tends to weaken heart muscles leading to increased cases of cardiac deaths. Similarly snorting drugs might result in lungs conditions as crushed pills may contain fillers, which can obstruct the blood flow in tiny blood vessels. Some of the conditions arising from such blockage include pulmonary hypertension and collapsing of lungs.
Adderall Dependence Rate as Compared to That of Cocaine
Adderall and cocaine are both psycho-stimulant drugs that speed up the central nervous system but they are different in so many aspects. For instance, despite being used to increase synaptic activity Adderall and cocaine have varying dependence rate among students and young people. For instance, a considerable number of people below the age of 25 years get their hands on ADHD stimulant medication even without doctor's recommendation (Weyandt, et.al 2016). In fact, about 16 percent of young people in schools have been found to have used Adderall in their lifetime. A survey by National Institute of Drug Abuse has also found that by 2016, approximately 1.4 percent of young people between the age of 18 and 25 have also taken cocaine at one time in their life (Weyandt, et.al 2016). By comparing these statistics, Adderall is more preferred as compared to cocaine among drug users.
They are a number of factors that make young people prefer using Adderall than cocaine. First, Adderall pills are readily available and affordable. Likewise, unlike cocaine whose distribution and market are being monitored strictly by law enforcers access to Adderall is relatively fast (Sussman et.al, 2006). Effects of snorted cocaine also last for a shorter time than that of Adderall. Mostly cocaine effects would last for 30 minutes but that of Adderall can persist for over 12 hours. Therefore, the dependency rate for Adderall is higher than that of cocaine, especially among students.
In conclusion, ADHD has been one of the most common childhood neurobiological disorder. Physicians usually prescribe Adderall to increase focus and attention spans for those suffering from ADHD. Consequently, it is now commonly used for diversion and nonmedical uses, which also increases the health risk of the users. Among students, Adderall is believed to combat the pressures of higher education. However, young people seem to be exposing themselves to a variety of unhealthy conditions. The most adverse effects of Adderall affects the brain and the cardiovascular systems, which can lead to death. As stimulant medications continue threatening the lives of young people, law enforcers have an obligation to come up with a mechanism to curb non-medical consumption of Adderall and other stimulant drugs.
Lakhan, S. E., & Kirchgessner, A. (2012). Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects. Brain and behavior, 2(5), 661-677. doi: 10.1002/brb3.78
Mechcatie, E. (2019). FDA Warns About Internet Sales of Counterfeit Adderall. Retrieved from https://www.mdedge.com/psychiatry/article/54689/pediatrics/fda-warns-about-internet-sales-counterfeit-Adderall
Palamar, J. J., & Le, A. (2017). Discordant reporting of nonmedical amphetamine use among Adderall-using high school seniors in the US. Drug and alcohol dependence, 181, 208-212.
Petersen, M. A., Norgaard, L. S., & Traulsen, J. M. (2015). Pursuing pleasures of productivity: university students' use of prescription stimulants for enhancement and the moral uncertainty of making work fun. Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, 39(4), 665-679. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-015-9457-4
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Varga, M. D. (2012). Adderall abuse on college campuses: a comprehensive literature review. Journal of evidence-based social work, 9(3), 293-313. doi: 10.1080/15433714.2010.525402
Weyandt, L. L., Oster, D. R., Marraccini, M. E., Gudmundsdottir, B. G., Munro, B. A., Rathkey, E. S., & McCallum, A. (2016). Prescription stimulant medication misuse: Where are we and where do, we go from here? Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology, 24(5), 400. doi: 10.1037/pha0000093
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