BRADENTON — Recently, the abuse of ADHD drugs on college campuses has received increased attention, as studies continue to suggest that their use is on the rise, with as many as 35 percent of college students admitting to using such stimulants to enhance academic performance. Addiction experts warn that by misusing the powerful drugs, often without doctor oversight and at dosages higher than typically prescribed, young people might be setting themselves up for a host of negative consequences.
Adderall is the most common brand name for the drugs, which are a blend of amphetamine salts. Tammy Strickling, Executive Director of Suncoast Rehab Center in Spring Hill, says that while many students use the drugs without side effects, the possibilities range from mild to extreme, including:
• Dangerous increase in blood pressure;
• Irregular heart rate;
• Fainting or losing consciousness;
• Seizure activity and excessive and uncontrollable shaking; and
Strickling says that education is essential for those young adults who continue to take the drug without a prescription.
“We need to call attention to this very real problem in the lives of many young adults—making them aware of the side effects and potentially addictive qualities of Adderall could go a long way in curbing what I consider to be a rising epidemic,” said Strickling.
“By reverting to the basics and solving problems without the use of drugs, students will learn to build and create the energy they need on their own, without the use of a foreign substance. As with any drug, the person runs the risk of becoming dependent and no longer able to function naturally without the use of the foreign substance.”
In addition to education from doctors, Suncoast says they support stricter regulations governing prescription drugs.
“We have to change the public mindset that prescription drugs are easily obtainable—this formulates the thought that all prescription drugs are harmless, which is far from the truth. The goal is to enable the public to make informed choices about what is best for their health,” said Strickling.
Before taking Adderall, Strickling also encourages that college students ask themselves the following questions:
1. Are the risks/side effects worth it? While small doses of Adderall often result in minor side effects such as shakiness/loss of appetite, heavier doses lead to much steeper consequences—aggressive behavior, uncontrolled shaking, dizziness, vomiting and hallucination are all possibilities.
2. What is the potential for dependence or abuse? Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has accepted medical use for treatment but has a high potential for abuse, and that abuse of the drug can lead to psychological or physical addiction.
3. Are there any alternatives? Rather than relying on drugs to generate more focus and initiative, consider a more natural means of increasing endurance. Prioritizing, taking mental breaks from working, getting physical exercise and occasionally skipping festivities such as parties all go a long way in establishing a steady supply of motivation.
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