Many college students are using prescription attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medicine as a study aid according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
In the past, research has found that amphetamine usage can lead to a frightening array of serious side-effects such as dependence on the drug, grave cardiovascular incidents, and even sudden death.
"The majority of adults who are using Adderall nonmedically are in the age range of 18 to 25," said lead study author Dr. Ramin Mojtabai, a professor of mental health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
Most are getting the medication from friends or family rather than through a prescription. Kathleen Lees of Science World Report writes that researchers studied trends from 2006 to 2011 regarding concerns about and the misuse of stimulants among US kids and teens.
Data was retrieved from three national surveys that included data on doctors, ER visits, and drug use. This information allowed the scientists to trace the use of drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin/Concerta.
Treatment visits by adults for the drug Adderall were stagnant, but the nonmedical use of the medication and ER visits increased dramatically. In teens, treatment visits for stimulant drugs decreased, and the misuse of Adderall did not rise.
The nonmedical use of Concerta and Ritalin lowered by roughly 54% over a period of six years, according to research.
Mojtabai noted that most adults who are misusing Adderall are between the ages of 18 to 25. He added that monitoring these drugs is important to lower the danger of dependency and to assist college-age students in understanding the possibly lethal side-effects of the prescription drugs.
The study leader continued by stating that many college students believe these drugs are "harmless study aids" which makes educating them about the serious health risks involved in their misuse imperative.
The doctor suggests that college students may be taking the medications so they can stay awake all night to cram for tests. Young adults may use Adderall to stay focused and sharp while at work, reports Kathleen Doheny for HealthDay.
Some may even be using the drug for recreational reasons. In approximately half the adults studied, there is an accompanying use of other substances. The US Food and Drug Administration requires a "black box" warning on all amphetamine packaging.
Adderall is chosen more often by college students because it stimulates two chemicals in the brain that are connected with increased cognitive function, causing it to have the power to make people more intelligent.
On the other hand, the medication often causes insomnia, agitation, and anxiety, said Dr. Mojtabai. In younger children, growth may slow down because of the suppression of appetite, and aggression and depression may also occur if Adderall is taken over a prolonged period.
Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that since the drug can improve focus, it may be offering some college students an unfair edge that could be interpreted as academic cheating. Those who have been legitimately prescribed the medication should keep track of their pills and keep them in a safe location, said Glatter.
Sonja Isger, reporting for The Palm Beach Post, writes that health problems associated with the drugs can range from minor stomach aches and headaches to devastating medical conditions such as heart difficulties and seizures.