Adderall Abuse: A Growing Risk for Young Adults
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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 norepinephrine. But abusers risk irritability, trouble sleeping, dangerous cardiac issues and ultimately a 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.