Tips with Trish: Addicted to Adderall

Dear Trish,

My friend got on my case the other day because I took one of his Adderall to help me stay up to finish a paper. I told him I’d give him $10 and he agreed but doesn’t want me to make it a habit. I could really use a few more to get me through midterms. What’s the big deal?

Signed,

Addicted to Adderall?

Trish says,

It’s not uncommon for students to look for a quick fix throughout the semester to pull “all nighters” or improve focus on things that have been put off until the last minute. In fact, statistics from CCHR International say as many as 35 percent of college students have used stimulants that have not been prescribed to them. Students are often overwhelmed by all of the exams, papers and presentations required in higher education, so having some help staying up late and staying focused may seem like a good idea. But beware. There are negative consequences to popping these pills.

Besides the fact that taking a medication that has not been prescribed to you is a bad idea, it is also dangerous. The “big deal” is that most students are unaware of the proper dosages for their size as well as not thinking about the possibility of drug interactions if a student is also taking other medications. Some medical professionals see Adderall and other stimulants as addictive as cocaine and other hard drugs. So starting a habit of taking a drug like Adderall once in a while can lead to an increased desire for the drug. Withdrawal from Adderall can be excruciating and dangerous. Physical and psychological dependence can occur. Another danger is that college students have been known to take Adderall with coffee or other caffeinated products, which in turn can make them jittery or nervous. Students can thus become so sleep deprived they “crash” after they go off the drug.

I can’t say for sure how prevalent it is on this campus, but it is a problem. I know that it is tempting to take something when you are stressed and need the extra energy, but I would advise against it. And I know that it can be appealing to sell stimulant medication because, let’s be honest, we all could use an extra buck, but this is a bad idea as well. If you give or sell someone your prescription medication, you could be liable if that person has a negative reaction to the drug. In my opinion, being sick or being arrested would be a “bigger deal” than a bad grade.

Adderall is a drug designed to help those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is not meant for college students who need temporary help with focusing. Signs of Adderall addiction include headaches, shaking, nervousness, restlessness, alerted sleep habits, seizures, hallucinations, aggressive behavior, and shortness of breath. Men and women addicted to stimulant medication like Adderall are more likely to overdose or inflict harm on their body when the drug is missed. If you or someone you know seems addicted to Adderall or any other drug, you can get help. Recognizing the problem and getting help can minimize the above effects. Talk to your doctor, the Loras College Health or Counseling Center or a trusted friend or family member if you think you may be addicted. There are resources available to help you learn to quit before things get worse.

Signed,

Trish

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