Adderall Abuse: Could Your Teenager Be Abusing Adderall? I Was

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Adderall abuse is incredibly widespread among teenagers, college students, and other cohorts of busy people such as restaurant workers and long-haul truck drivers.  Adderall (immediate release) and Adderall XR (extended release) is a medication intended for the treatment of ADHD, and some other rare conditions such as narcolepsy.  The pill is made of a combination of amphetamine salts – yes, what is known on the street as “speed”.  It is almost certain that someone in your teenager’s class has an Adderall prescription.  There is a pretty good chance that this classmate, likely with a diagnosis with ADHD, has discovered that selling his or her Adderall to other teens can be a lucrative business.  Well over a decade ago, when I was 16, I used to trade essays for these pills, which started me down the road of Adderall abuse, and soon I found it was easier to buy speed off the street.  After taking Adderall once, I spent most of my grade twelve year addicted to stimulants.

What Makes Teens and Young Adults Prone to Adderall Abuse?

There is a lot of pressure put on teens and young students to perform.  Combined with fluctuating hormone levels, classroom bullies, and high rates of depression among adolescents, especially young women, Adderall can feel like a magic solution to a disillusioned teen.  It sure did for me.  Suddenly could I study for hours on end and finish work quickly, and even better, I felt euphoric.  Nothing and no one could get me down.  I did not realize that taking Adderall, depression symptoms were temporarily being masked, since the drug causes the release of the feel-good chemicals dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Adderall is a poor antidepressant, since it causes that temporary surge of chemicals that are precisely the ones that individuals with depression usually lack, causing a crash when the pill wears off.  When I experienced these crashes, all those good feelings I had earlier in the day were equaled or outdone with feelings of desperation.  I felt like I was going to die and I couldn’t stop crying, emotions that I had no idea how to deal with.  And so began my own Adderall abuse story.  When I could not obtain any more of the pills, I very quickly turned to buying speed from street dealers.  I was going to school and working full-time, and spending most of the money I made to fuel my 16-hour days.

My Adderall abuse slowed down considerably when I started university in a new city, though it is very common for college students to use Adderall and other stimulants.  An estimated 6 – 10% of university and college students report using Adderall, specifically to stay up and study.  Adderall is only one of several prescription stimulants, others being Dexedrine and Ritalin, not to mention different kinds of amphetamines available through illicit dealers.  In my residence building during first year university, I was often surprised to hear who had been participating in speedy study sessions – these were students who did not use other drugs or get drunk at parties, they were unusual suspects.  I, with less disposable income, and sick of the post-stimulant crash, was able to stop my own Adderall abuse and use of other stimulants by the end of that year.  However, it was obviously just the beginning for many others. 

Is My Teen Abusing Stimulants?

The best way to approach this subject with your teen is not to come from a place of anger or judgment and to have an honest conversation.  Maybe you took some pep pills in your own youth – telling your teenager this will not make them think that doing so is okay, but it will open the door for sharing the truth.

Signs of Adderall abuse and other stimulant use include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Lack of appetite
  • Unusual levels of concentration on homework or other tasks
  • Rapid speech
  • Mood swings, or worsening of mood swings

Prescription drug abuse has quickly become the most common type of drug use among adolescents over the past several years.  Talking to your children about the realities of drug use early on, again being open and honest, letting you know you expect the same in return, is the best way to prevent it.  I certainly never would have fallen victim to Adderall abuse if I had known where it would take me.

In this news exposé, several young students come clean about Adderall abuse:

Originally posted 2013-01-25 11:23:53. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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