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Adderall Abuse: A Growing Risk for Young Adults

Adderall Abuse: A Growing Risk for Young Adults

You know a prescription drug is widely abused when it becomes the main character in recent movies! A is for Adderall is a documentary in production about the off-prescription use of that popular ADHD (attention deficient hyperactivity disorder) medication. The producers filmed the teaser at the University of Wisconsin Madison (“It’s so available; it’s everywhere,” says one student.) And it’s the star of the 2015 James Franco film, The Adderall Diaries, about a burned-out, drugged-up writer.

Adderall, or dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, is often used to help those with ADHD become calmer and more focused, as is methylphenidate (brand names—Ritalin, Daytrana and Concerta). But from 2006 to 2011, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins, nonmedical use of these meds among adults (especially 18- to 25-year-olds) went up by 67 percent and emergency-room-related visits increased almost 156 percent.

What’s the allure? They make it easier to study all night, plus they boost feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and decrease in the ability to concentrate. These meds also mask the affects of alcohol, making it all-too-easy to suffer alcohol poisoning.

Unfortunately, young adults seem unaware of the risks—or the tough time they’re going to have getting off the drugs. Experts—and we agree—are calling for the same aggressive oversight of these prescription meds that’s proposed for opioids/pain relievers. And anyone using them without an Rx needs to reach out to abuse treatment experts for help getting off them—it’s hard to do it by yourself.

Medically reviewed in October 2018.

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