Teens abusing ADHD medications

Haleigh Watkins, Staff writer

Karl Edwards

Stimulant medication such as Adderall are often prescribed to those diagnosed with ADHD. Both medications help users improve their concentration and focus, but, Adderall and Ritalin are still considered drugs. And with drugs, there is always the risk of abuse. 

Those prescribed medication who follow their doctor’s instructions are generally safe, however, some assume that because stimulant drugs are prescribed by a doctor, they are safe to abuse. 

Those who typically abuse Adderall are ambitious people looking to increase their productivity. 

“Kids do it to stay awake and get work done,” school nurse Eileen Rogers-Duffy said. “Not necessarily using it for a high.” 

Stressed out adolescents turn to Adderall to improve their grades, but this can prove fatal. According to DrugAbuse, teens abusing adderall are 3 times more likely to use marijuana, 5 times more likely to abuse pain medications, and 8 times more likely to have used cocaine or prescription tranquilizers like Xanax. 

“I think the statistic is 1 in 30 teenagers are abusing prescription drugs,” health teacher Josh Lee said. 

Despite being used as a study drug, Adderall is actually linked to lower grades. According to NewportAcademy, teens who abuse Adderall spend less time studying than those who don’t. 

Teens get medication in a variety of ways. According to American Addiction Centers, one method is “doctor shopping,” or going from pharmacy to pharmacy in search of medication. Multiple prescription bottles from different doctors and pharmacies is a tell tale sign of Adderall abuse.

“As far as Adderall goes, I think some kids might offer to purchase it from their friends that are using it,” Lee said. “Buying it off friends illegally, stealing it from family members, or they’ve been prescribed it and are just using too much.” 

What addicts  might not realize is that abusing stimulant medications can lead to a wide variety of problems. 

“It’s going to cause increased heart rate,” Duffy said. “It could cause changes in the blood pressure, that could be an extreme problem. It could cause nausea and vomiting.” 

Addicts have reported withdrawal symptoms when they go without their usual amount of Adderall. Additionally, addicts will frequently neglect their responsibilities. 

“Teens could be made more aware of taking drugs,” sophomore Meaghan Buckler said.  “We always talk about heroin and stuff like that, and everyone knows there around.” 

Abusing Adderall can also lead to overdose. Overdosing can cause heart attacks, as well as liver failure. Taking Adderall with alcohol increases this chance. 

“If you don’t need it, you shouldn’t be taking it,” Lee said. “It affects the amount of dopamine released in the brain.” 

Adderall abuse can cause the development of mental disorders such as depression. According to the Addiction Center, some abusers become suicidal after using for a long period of time. 

But getting help can be a process all in itself. As Adderall addiction isn’t as stigmatized as others, it can be difficult for some to recognize they have a problem. This is why recognizing signs of abuse is so important. 

Some go to drastic means to obtain Adderall. According to Addiction Center, student addicts sometimes sell textbooks to obtain Adderall. 

In light of their addiction, Adderall addicts often neglect self-care. A sudden change in appearance could be an indicator of addiction. Adderall addicts also tend to isolate themselves from friends and family. 

“It’s upsetting to hear anyone overuses a drug. I’ve heard horror stories about that, like how bad it can affect people around them,” Buckler said. 

Adderall addicts are also more likely to abuse stronger drugs, such as cocaine, meth, and heroine. 

“I think the big question is why[teens] are using it,” Lee said. If we can figure out why a kid feels like they need to take a drug, then we can start to address the problem.” 

Besides wanting to improve grades, some teens can be drawn to the drug by their idols. According to Next Generation Village, teens have been influenced by professional athletes in the past. 

For some concerned friends and family, addressing the problems means staging an intervention. While this could potentially save their life, it could also make an addict angry and defensive.  Interventions should be treated with understanding and caution. 

If addicts do choose to move towards recovery, the support of their friends and family is crucial.  This could mean the difference between life and death.