Although Adderall prescriptions have stayed largely stable, a new piece of research shows that abuse of the drug has increased significantly in the past few years.
Use of the drug to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and young adults has remained stable, but abuse of the drug and instances of people seeking treatment in emergency rooms has increased.
Study shows non-medical abuse of Adderall on the rise
Researchers at John Hopkins University have found that students are using Adderall as a study aid, one of various non-medical uses that doctors have noticed in recent years. Most people believe that the drug doesn’t pose any risk to their health.
The stimulating effects of Adderall are due to the fact that it contains salts from amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is one drug used to treat ADHD, and narcolepsy. Side effects can include disrupted sleep, increased risk of depression, bipolar disorder, aggressive or hostile behavior, and high blood pressure and stroke.
Research shows that 18-25 year old’s are using the drug as a study aid after getting it from family or friends. Scientists found that they are using Adderall without considering the health risks.
“Many of these college students think stimulants like Adderall are harmless study aids,” Ramin Mojtabai, a professor of mental health at Johns Hopkins, said in a press release. “But there can be serious health risks and they need to be more aware.”
Worrying trend among young adults
Researchers analyzed survey data collected from 2006-2011 to reach their conclusion. The data was originally collected as part of the National Disease and Therapeutic Index, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and the Drug Abuse Warning Network.
Non-medical use of dextroamphetamine, amphetamine rose by 67.1% among 18-25 year old’s, while emergency room visits increased by 155.9%. The source of non-medical Adderall was family and friends, two-thirds of which possessed genuine prescriptions for the drug.
“[The study] suggests that the main driver of misuse and emergency room visits related to the drug is the result of diversion — people taking medication that is legitimately prescribed to someone else,” said Dr. Lian-Yu Chen, a former student at Johns Hopkins and now a researcher at National Taiwan University Hospital. “Physicians need to be much more aware of what is happening and take steps to prevent it from continuing.”