It is becoming more and more common for teenagers to take medications such as Adderall illegally to help them stay awake and focus on schoolwork, but the risks of taking medication without a prescription far outweigh any short-term benefits the teen hopes to receive.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, students who have used Adderall non-medically are more likely to use other illegal drugs. Students are almost 3 times more likely to use marijuana (79.9% vs 27.2%), 8 times more likely to use cocaine (28.9% vs. 3.6%), 8 times more likely to use tranquilizers non-medically (24.5% vs. 3%) and 5 times more likely to use pain relievers non-medically (44.9% vs. 8.7%).
Adderall contains Amphetamine, which is illegal if not prescribed, and can be addictive if taken in excess. Taking Adderall in excess increases heart rate and blood pressure, and can even lead to heart attacks.
Medications such as Adderall are supposed to be used to give people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD) the chemical that their bodies do not make, allowing them to be able to think and focus.
And while the medication has positive effects, improper use of Adderall can have serious side effects. Taking too much Adderall causes irregular heartbeat and hyperactivity. After the effects wear off, they can be followed by fatigue and depression.
Students who have ADD or ADHD use Adderall to help reduce traits such as being easily distracted, fidgeting, blurting out answers, not listening well, having poor organization, and talking in excess. To people who are in need of the medication, it is important that they take the correct dosage. Skipping doses can affect their mood, make them lethargic, and affect their appetite, causing weight loss and possible growth problems.
“Having the right dosage gives the correct amount of the chemical that the person’s body with ADD is not making, which then makes the person the same as someone without ADD or ADHD until the medication wears off,” said Support and Accommodations for Identified Learners (SAIL) Department Chair Renee Herndon.