Earlier this year, the third National Drug Facts Week slipped by largely unnoticed by many folks, but the same should not be said for its ongoing message. After all, Colorado and Washington have now passed laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, with other states considering such a move. In fact, right here in Pennsylvania, Daylin Leach, a Democrat from Upper Merion, has put forth his “Regulate Marijuana Act.” Its intent: legalization.
Meanwhile, the illegal use of drugs grows unabated, and Montgomery County has not been spared. Indeed, District Attorney Risa Ferman estimates that between 75% and 80% of local area crimes are drug-related—thanks to the likes of heroin and prescription drugs, too. Among them: Adderall.
Developed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Adderall is a stimulant made up of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine to increase levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. The former affects cognition, pleasure, and motivation, the latter attention and decision-making.
And that’s a Godsend for the 3% to 7% of children properly diagnosed with ADHD who experience such symptoms as:
- Trouble concentrating
- Inability to complete simple or complex tasks
- Losing or misplacing important items
- Being easily distracted
- An inability to get along with others
- Frequent insubordination
Unfortunately, these indicators can be faked by unafflicted young people anxious to succeed academically or professionally, thus convincing well-meaning doctors to pull out their prescription pads. The pills are sometimes shared, too. The reason: Adderall causes the non-ADHD taker to feel more motivated, focused, and able to concentrate—energized and confident, too.
Said one young woman, “They make me feel like I'm superwoman,” and it’s just that sort of sentiment that’s given rise to such Adderall nicknames as:
- Wonder drug
- The get-ahead drug
- My BFF
- The academic steroid
- Miracle Drug
No wonder, then, that the trend is growing. Indeed, SAMHSA’s 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that about 6.4% of full-time college students, 18 to 22, used Adderall in a “recreational way” in the past year. Plus, the non-medical use of Adderall rose from 6.3% in 2006 to 8.3% in 2011.
As for the safety of such non-medical use, apparently even when taken occasionally and only in small doses, these tiny, orange capsules carry some risky side effects, such as:
- A dangerous rise in blood pressure
- Tachycardia or a high pulse rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Migraine headaches
- Mood swings, including hostility and aggression
And as if that’s not enough to dampen enthusiasm, Adderall is not only highly addictive, but long-term use by ADHD patients can actually exacerbate their symptoms and make withdrawal agonizing.
In other words, be very wary all around.