A 2014 study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that out of 303 college students surveyed, nearly 73 percent said they used stimulants, specifically Adderall and Ritalin to improve alertness and enhance cognition and focus when studying.
After tracking “study drug” use among university students, University of Kentucky professor Alan DeSantis discovered that Adderall is “easier to get than marijuana” and that 80 percent of seniors and graduate students have taken Adderall or Ritalin to help them study and complete academic work on time.
Adderall Abuse Is Spreading Beyond College
Adderall use isn’t just problem among college students. In 2013, the University of Michigan published its yearly survey tracking drugs use among adolescents.
UofM’s Monitoring the Future Study found that Adderall use increased significantly among U.S. high school seniors since 2009.
What is Adderall?
Adderall (dextroamphetamine and levoamphetamine) is a stimulant typically prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy. It works by elevating levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, two catecholamines primarily responsible for improving cognition, attention and alertness.
Although it is a stimulant, Adderall has a calming, “focusing” effect on people diagnosed with ADHD and can help them greatly improve their ability to accomplish tasks, control emotions and improve their quality of life.
Why Certain People Need Adderall
Abnormal functioning of the noradrenergic and dopaminergic systems is thought to produce classic symptoms of ADHD–inability to sit still or focus, fidgeting, lack of organizational skills and chronic procrastination.
Since noradrenaline and dopamine are excitatory transmitters, they supply the central nervous system and create strong feelings of fear, euphoria and hypersensitivity to external stimuli.
Thus, signs of ADHD are thought to arise as a result of insufficient amounts of norepinephrine and dopamine, a condition rectified by the stimulatory properties of Adderall.
Why Students Abuse Adderall
Adderall is an amphetamine, just as crack and cocaine are amphetamines. Consequently, when it is illegally abused, it can cause potentially dangerous side effects to the user. So what makes this “study drug” such a popular, easy-to-get drug among high school and college students?
According to survey after survey, students say they take Adderall to:
- Increase mental alertness
- Improve studying skills
- Motivate them to complete school work
- Give them that boost of energy they need to get good grades
College students especially emphasize the fact that they are under a lot of pressure to keep up their GPA while working part or full time, fulfilling internship requirements and sometimes raising a family.
Does Adderall Make You “Smarter”?
The few studies involving enhanced cognition and Adderall use reports a minor positive correlation between the stimulant and rote memory tasks but a negative correlation with complex memory, a form of cognitive generally needed to pass college-level examination.
In addition, Advokat et al (2008) concluded that stimulants such as Adderall did not increase intelligence (IQ).
Adderall and Addiction
Unfortunately, amphetamines are highly addictive. Tolerance to Adderall steadily increases if students continue taking the drug regularly. Psychological dependence comes first, followed by physical dependence if Adderall is abused long enough.
Signs of an Adderall addiction include:
- Chronic insomnia
- Abrupt mood changes
- Anxiety and depression
- Motor tics (excessive blinking, facial grimacing, compulsive throat clearing)
- Rapid weight loss
Prolonged abuse of Adderall may result in psychosis and schizophrenia-like symptoms that require extensive hospitalization and recovery.
Heart attack, stroke and seizures are possible as well, especially if people with undiagnosed heart or neurological conditions take Adderall.
Treatment for Adderall Addiction
Treatment methods are similar to methods used to overcome an addiction to amphetamines. If you or someone you know suffers from an Adderall addiction, contact us at 877-466-0620 for immediate help with stopping the addiction.