Adderall addiction on college campuses - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Adderall addiction on college campuses

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Adderall is a commonly prescribed medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

In 2011, nearly 14 million monthly prescriptions were written for Americans ages 20 to 39. That number is two and a half times higher than it was four years prior.

There is no doubt Adderall works. It helps an individual stay alert and concentrate.

But the drug also is used for a different purpose. The drug is one of the most abused on college campuses. Students are using it as a study aid and recreationally for the amphetamine style high it gives.

"Everybody is trying to get it. It's such a big thing that everyone hears about that everyone wants to try it. Especially kids who don't need it and aren't prescribed to it," says an anonymous sophomore at the University of Alabama. He has been prescribed to Adderall for the last four years.

He says, "When I was on Adderall I became very quiet and not hungry. But, very focused on what I was doing."

He goes on to say, "I don't really enjoy taking it at all to be honest with you. But I take it three or four times a week to study or for big tests or papers."

He says students take Adderall recreationally, "I've been to a lot of parties where people bring Adderall. They'll go into the bathroom and (inhale) it while they're drinking."

As for how students get their hands on the drug without a prescription...

"I've seen students give out a pill for three or four dollars, or five dollars."

When asked if he had you ever sold some of his Adderall before:

"I have. Only a few times, just to good friends. It would be something like my roommate coming to me saying 'I have a big paper do you mind if I have one?' and I'll say, 'yea sure if you give me three or four dollars."

In Birmingham, Dr. Anne Thiele, a pediatrician with Children's of Alabama is quick to point out, "These medications are controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration and it is illegal to take medication that is prescribed to somebody else."

When asked if it is over-prescribed she said, "I can't speak to anything other than my own practice. In our practice we try to be careful to sort out what actually is attention deficit and what may be due to something else."

Thiele will say, the drug will have the same affect on those who take it.

"It will make anybody more focused. It will make anybody's heart rate go up a little bit. It may bother their blood pressure," she says. "Just because you focus better if you've taken some, doesn't mean you have ADHD."

At the regional Poison Control Center in Birmingham, director Ann Slattery says her center answers calls and files reports of Adderall abuse among adolescents.

"Over the past five years we've had 225 calls of amphetamine style ADHD drugs. About 55% of those were intentional abuse and misuse," Slattery explains. "Eighty percent of those were from ingestion, and twenty percent were from them crushing the pills and inhaling them."

Slattery says the most severe side effects include: "Seizures, renal failure, cardiac arrest, stroke, coma, and even death."

As for the student. He doesn't expect the dangers of abuse to slow down this speed drug.

"I can see it becoming more of a party drug, and I can also see it becoming something that doctors look back on and say 'we shouldn't have prescribed that much to that many people."

ABC 33/40 contacted the University of Alabama for their response to this story. However, no response was given. 

To be clear, this is an issue on college campuses across the country and is not specific to the University of Alabama.

 

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