Studying for mid-terms, writing theses, waking up for class after a frat-party; they all seem to go hand-in-hand with one thing…Adderall. The little wonder drug was first introduced in 1996, designed to treat those (primarily the youth) who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Nevertheless, as years went on, many teenagers and college students realized that the drug was the answer to their mediocre caffeine-driven all-nighters. A recent survey was conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, which found, 1 in 5 college students abuse stimulant medications, such as Adderall. So now the question stands, as Millennials are graduating, where does that leave our workforce? Are they buzzing into our corporate sector on an amphetamine-induced ripper?
What Is Adderall & Why Is It Used?
ADHD is described as a genetic brain disorder usually carrying symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattentiveness. Most times, the onset of the disorder occurs in childhood, but can continue on into their adult life. According to the Centers of Disease Control, as of 2016, 3.3 million children aged 12–17 years are diagnosed with ADHD.
Adderall is made up of two compounds. Amphetamine & dextroamphetamine; both very powerful stimulants. When we hear amphetamine, we typically associate the drug with methamphetamine. Although methamphetamines are stronger and faster-acting, amphetamines are equally as addictive and harmful, hence their classification as a Schedule II substance, grouped together with drugs such as cocaine. Adderall typically does not get as much flak as its “cousin”, crystal meth because Big-Pharma has stuck its “seal of approval” on the label. Consequently, we have birthed a nation of tweaked out college kids and millennial employees.
Who Gets Addicted?
We all remember what it’s like to be a college student. Parties; late-nights; mid-terms. Stressing over how to get through finals on 3 hours of sleep and a Powerbar. Now-a-days, the go-to study tool is not coffee, rather speed in the form of a prescription pill. Many want to believe, “Well what’s the harm, its FDA approved and prescribed by a physician.” Really though, many that take the drug, never have a prescription to begin with. A study in 2011 revealed that 62% of college students diverted their prescription stimulants to other individuals. That is, giving, sharing or selling their medication illegally.
What starts off as a medication to curb the symptoms of ADHD in youth, spirals into full-blown addiction by the time they reach college. As the drug begins to speed up and heighten bodily processes and mental alertness, those who are prescribed the drug say they feel more in tune, productive, successful and even invincible.
As more and more college students begin to depend on Adderall throughout their college career, we wonder, what will that do for our workforce? Are we employing a generation of addicts? And if we are, would our employers really do anything to stop it, if work performance is up to par?
Adderall & The Workplace
In his new book titled ADHD Nation: Children, Doctors, Big Pharm, and the Making of an American Epidemic, Alan Schwarz notes, “Millennials are graduating into the workplace, and many of them are continuing to use prescription stimulants as job performance enhancers.” We would have to agree. A study done in 2015, showed a steady increase of drug screen analyses done on workers. From 2011 to 2015, positive urine analyses for amphetamines increased by 44%.
Ultimately, it makes sense. If an individual depends on a chemical, whether it be a stimulant, depressant, or even tranquilizer to get them through school and aid in their overall performance, it would be extremely difficult to abruptly stop now that they have entered the workforce. A young adult’s first job after college can be stressful, overwhelming and even scary. Their mind tells them “This pill helps me focus, I’m more motivated and I get more done.” Or “I can’t do the job as well without it.”
Raphael, a 25-year old Adderall addict who has recently entered the workforce, tells Quartz in a recent article, of his journey with the medication through college and now employment. As a new web developer, he openly admits his success is greatly due to his addiction to Adderall. He noted “Without it, I don’t really see the art within the coding.” He goes on to mention a failed attempt at quitting the drug, and says his job performance lacked without it. While he acknowledges that his addiction has greatly impacted his personal relationships, saying “it can be a lonely drug,” he still believes he is a high-functioning user.
Is Adderall Safe?
It is difficult to quantify research done on Adderall. For one, the drug is beneficial when used properly for someone who is actually diagnosed with ADHD, but to determine which prescriptions are legitimate and which are not, is difficult. Take Raphael for instance. He discloses to Quartz, that he never actually had ADHD. He was able to find a psychiatrist that was either lazy or oblivious, and willing to write him a prescription. All he had to tell his doctor was people thought he had ADHD in high school, and as easy as that, he’s had a prescription ever since…and this is just one example.
Adderall carries many side effects, health risks, and even withdrawal symptoms. Adderall abuse can lead to suppressed appetite and weight loss, dizziness, rise in blood pressure, headache, mood swings, blurred vision, and seizures. Abruptly stopping the medication without the supervision of a medical professional, is highly discouraged. After an individual crosses over from recreational use into addiction, their body becomes dependent on the stimulant, just like any other drug. Withdrawal symptoms can include, irritability, nausea, irregular heart rhythms, and nervousness. In more extreme cases, a person can experience violent reactions, psychotic behavior, and seizures. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have thought about quitting “cold turkey”, we strongly recommend you seek the help of a medical professional or addictions specialist. Do not attempt to go at it alone!
Contact Clearbrook Today
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, get the help you need today. We understand prescription medication addiction can be confusing. You have probably thought the drugs you are taking are safe because they have been given to you by a doctor. That is not necessarily the case.
For more than 40 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been helping individuals overcome their addiction to prescription pills, including Adderall. If you are tired of living the way you have, we are here to help. Contact our Admissions Specialists today for further information.