Twenty years ago college students might drink a cup of coffee to gain a mental edge or keep their energy up during late night study sessions. Today’s students commonly use a much more powerful, and addictive, substance to achieve this same goal. The use of powerful prescription stimulants, Adderall abuse, has been rapidly rising across the nation. During the 1990’s it was estimated that between three and five percent of children in America were believed to have A.D.H.D.
By 2013 that figure reached 11 percent and it continues to rise (nytimes.com). Amphetamines are one of the most commonly used stimulants and from 2006 to 2016 Amphetamine use went up 250 percent from 7.9 to 20.0 tons in the United States. In other words, if you fancy looking at the issue from an alternative perspective, “Adderall sales increased 3135.6% over a four year period from 2002–2006.(Erinn Rigney, pg. 1035)”
Why Adderall Abuse?
Professional athletes looking to gain a competitive edge by whatever means necessary frequently run into trouble due to the use of steroids. Similarly, the most common reason people abuse Adderall is simple, it’s looked at basically as steroids for your brain. It’s a performance enhancing drug (PED) for college students looking to gain an academic advantage. This study conducted out of the University of New Hampshire seems to confirm this in finding that 50% of students diagnosed as A.D.D./A.D.H.D.received their diagnosis while in high school or college.
Stimulants like Adderall and other Amphetamines boost energy and concentration levels. In addition to this, they kill your appetite and decrease your need for sleep. One recent study found 51% of seniors, 31% of juniors, 16% of sophomores, and 19% of freshman used Adderall as a study aid during their college careers. In other words, prescription stimulant abuse has become as common as coffee for students just a couple generations ago.
Long-Term Effects of Amphetamine Abuse
Abusing Amphetamines like Adderall and similar substances can bring on a wide range of long-term effects to a person’s health. Additionally, Amphetamines and other stimulants increase a person’s body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. The prolonged use of stimulants can harm the cardiovascular system and the heart, especially when overused. According to this study the cardiovascular complications most commonly associated with these kinds of drugs are hypertension (high blood pressure) and tachycardia (irregular heart rate). In the most extreme cases sudden cardiac death may be a possible side effect.
Amphetamines intensify the activity on a number of neurotransmitters; in particular norepinephrine, serotonin, and particularly dopamine. As time passes the shifts in dopamine can transform the brain’s reward center, taking away our capacity to find pleasure without the use of amphetamines. The more frequently these drugs are taken, the established these transformations become. In addition to this, user’s often develop a tolerance for the drugs, meaning that they need more Amphetamines to feel their effects. People chemically dependent on such drugs may experience a variety of the following adverse side-effects:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lacking motivation
- Thoughts of suicide
- Mood swings
- Panic attacks
- Heart disease
- Weight loss/ Weight gain