The Effects of Adderall

The stimulant epidemic among high schoolers

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The Effects of Adderall

John Tower and Abby Manis

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The movie Limitless is about a man that takes a mysterious pill that allows him access to 100% of his brain’s abilities. This tale is quite clearly a work of fiction, but it does initiate a wonder about whether such a pill could possibly exist. What if I told you that there was a real-life drug that harbored a similar reputation? Well, as you may have guessed, we are talking about prescription medications like Adderall and Ritalin.

But, as Eddie Mora of Limitless would attest, the perks don’t come without consequence. Adderall and Ritalin are both popular treatments for ADHD and ADD. The prescription of these drugs has increased in the last century.  What has most parents and teachers worried, however, is the growing illegal and unprescribed use of these, and other prescription stimulants.

The purpose of Adderall/Ritalin is to aid the user in concentration. When the user has an attention disorder, the drugs help focus the user and counteract their hyperactive attention.

I use it when I know I have a big test coming. It helps me focus during the test and I also feel more confident while on Adderall”

— Anonymous

When used in this manner,  and prescribed by a doctor, both drugs can be very effective and life-changing for the users.

In recent years, Adderall has seen usage by more than just patients that are having trouble focusing. According to the Huffington Post, over 3.5 million American children currently take an ADHD drug, which is a 500 percent increase since 1990. With prescriptions increasing it is becoming more and more easy for people that are not diagnosed with ADHD or ADD to acquire these drugs. The reason for a non-diagnosed person to want to use Adderall is often one of two reasons: to get high or to improve their academic performance.

I crushed and snorted Adderall at a party”

— Anonymous

In interviews conducted by the Kolus, it was found that many students who use Adderall recreationally say they do it for tests and other academically draining events. One person interviewed said, “I use it when I know I have a big test coming. It helps me focus during the test and I also feel more confident while on Adderall”. While it seems like Adderall is an easy way to get an advantage in school, interviewees also claimed to have uncomfortable symptoms afterward. One girl said that about an hour after her initial “high” goes away, she experiences “terrible headaches”. Another boy said that he also felt headaches and also “lost appetite and had a bad stomach ache” after taking Adderall.

Adderall can also be used to get high in a number of ways. Its stimulating effects are similar to that of cocaine, and it can easily be as addictive. One person interviewed said that they “crushed and snorted” Adderall at a party to increase the effects of drinking. Adderall mixed with alcohol can provide a short “high” that users call “insane”, “crazy”, and also “absolutely terrible”. The American Addiction Center says that, “Despite the perception that the stimulant or alcohol is not working as effectively as one believes, the actual content of the drug has not been altered. This makes it far easier to overdose on either stimulants or alcohol when both drugs are used in combination.” This shows how dangerous it is to mix alcohol and Adderall. Regardless of existing prescriptions or attention disorders, the mixing of the two can give a false sense of “soberness” and prove deadly.

The recreational Adderall/Ritalin epidemic amongst teens is cause for worry and for an effort towards prevention of illicit use. While these types of drugs may very well prove useful and, at times, necessary for people who have been diagnosed with an attention deficit and prescribed the medication, unprescribed and/or illegal use can cause both health and emotional issues.

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