Adderall Abuse In College Students

Published January 10, 2021 by:
adderall abuse in college students

If you have ever asked yourself, “why is Adderall so popular among college students,” I suggest you participate in this quick exercise. Picture a college student— what image comes to mind? A general consensus might say: young adult, holding books. 

There are typical two archetypes for the modern-day college student. The first example is an under-nourished, wild-eyed kid, rushing from lecture to lecture, pounding energy drinks. This version of the college student continues until exhaustion inevitably takes over and they crash, their eyes glazed over and their frantic pace turns into a foot-dragging shuffle.

The second version of the college student is our catalog figure. They present while a calm smile as they leave the on-campus Starbucks. They are members are several university clubs, holding a steady job, and attending after-school activities, all while maintaining perfect academic performance. 

You may ask yourself— how is there such a discrepancy between these two students? What is one doing that the other is not? Often, the difference is in a single orange pill named Adderall. 

Why Do People Use Adderall?

To better understand why people abuse Adderall, it is necessary to look at the medical uses and effects of the drug. 

Adderall, or amphetamine/dextroamphetamine, is a prescription medication belonging to the class of drugs called stimulants. When administered, this stimulant increases brain activity as it triggers the production of norepinephrine and dopamine. As a result, Adderall curbs the effects of hyperactivity and impulse control. For this reason, medical professionals prescribe Adderall to treat the symptoms of attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition to treating ADD and ADHD, Adderall treats sufferers of narcolepsy, and other sleep disorders, due to the additional energy produced by the drug.   

Adderall provides:

  • Increased focus
  • Provides energy
  • Extends attention span
  • Decreased behavioral problems
  • Aids organization
  • Improves listening skills
  • Supports comprehension

When taking Adderall, it is important to follow the directions given to you by your doctor. Taking more than your prescribed dose, taking Adderall in any other method than directed, or taking Adderall without a prescription is drug abuse. Adderall can be habit-forming, as it is a Schedule II substance as classified by the DEA drug schedule. Schedule II substances are drugs that have a high potential for abuse and can lead to physical dependence and addiction. 

Why Do College Students Abuse Adderall?

For most students, college is an extremely stressful environment where academic success is valued above all else. As a result, many people will take Adderall to ensure their productivity levels never falter. 

The “Study Drug”

Adderall is the epitome of a perfect “study drug”. Students utilize Adderall’s effects, increased focus, and energy, to pull all-nighters. These all-nighters often consist of pre-test study sessions and writing 6-paged term papers the night before the due date. College students also carry their abuse of Adderall into the classroom, using it to lengthen their attention span and improve their comprehension during lectures. The concentration provided by the stimulant also aids students while they take exams. For that reason, college students seek Adderall from physicians and classmates who have a prescription. 

Avoiding the Freshman Fifteen 

There are a number of reasons why college students abuse Adderall aside from academic reasons. A common side effect of Adderall is a lack of hunger. The “freshman fifteen”, a common euphemism for weight gain during the first year of college, is often combatted through the use of Adderall. Men and women trying to curb their calorie count abuse Adderall as an appetite suppressant. Additionally, many college students have a strict budget they have to adhere to. In a misguided attempt to save money, students will take Adderall the lower their food costs. Ironically, they end up spending the same amount, or more, money on their drug habit than they would have on food. 

Never-Ending Parties 

Many college students feel the need to de-stress from the constant influx of information in lectures and homework. A common way students unwind after a week of school work is through partying. However, after a day of lectures starting at 9 AM and ending in the late afternoon, most college kids lack the energy to party into the later hours of the night. This is why many college students use Adderall at parties to stave off the exhaustion of being awake for hours of learning. Additionally, Adderall counteracts the depressive qualities of alcohol through a euphoric rush of energy, enabling party-goers to continue drinking and partying longer.

The Dangers of Adderall Abuse

Like most drug use, students who start using Adderall often find themselves abusing the drug soon after. What once started as a seemingly innocent attempt to catch up on missed coursework turns into a cycle of abuse, needing Adderall in order to achieve maximum focus during lectures. 

Students who take Adderall to pull an all-nighter need to continue use into the next day in order to stay awake during class the following day. After their classes, they need to take more Adderall in order to perform well in their part-time job. After returning home, students will either crash or require more Adderall to complete their homework. This vicious cycle continues on and on, resulting in a constant battle with fatigue and addiction.  

In addition, Adderall can pose severe health complications when used as an appetite suppressant. Students who abuse Adderall as a method of weight loss are at risk of developing an eating disorder. Disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating can cause malnutrition, dehydration, fatigue, as well as extreme gastrointestinal and cardiovascular ailments. Eating disorders can be exacerbated through Adderall abuse, intensifying the severity of life-threatening symptoms. 

Adderall abuse can also increase the likelihood of alcohol poisoning in college students due to overconsumption. This is because Adderall curbs the depressant effects of alcohol, decreasing feelings of fatigue, allowing them to drink longer. Adderall is especially dangerous in party settings because stimulants pose the risk of stroke, heart attack, and death. Night clubs lend to increased body temperatures, so the mixture of drugs and alcohol only raises the risk of fatality. Drunk and high on Adderall, college students don’t realize the severity of their symptoms until it’s too late.

Adderall Addiction Treatment

The abuse of Adderall and other stimulants is an extremely dangerous addiction due to the health risks involved. It is important to seek Adderall addiction treatment for your substance use disorder in order to begin the recovery process. Royal Life Centers provides medical detox, as well as inpatient and outpatient treatment options to aid in the sustainment of your sobriety.

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