Getting High On Adderall – Silent, Underground Epidemic

People getting high on Adderall shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Ever since the medication’s debut in 1996, many people, especially college students, have been abusing it. It is an amphetamine, central nervous stimulant, in the phenethylamine class. It has been in and out of popular consciousness for over 20 years.

  • On the streets and college campuses across the county, the drug often goes by the nickname of “Addy.”

Adderall, the brand name for dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, is usually prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

  • The medication boosts levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which increases alertness and concentration.

Recreational users generally take more than the recommended dose and enjoy abusing it because of the drug’s physical and mental effects. These include some of the following;

  • Cognitive focus
  • Euphoria
  • Aphrodisiac
  • Enhanced athletic performance

According to the Mayo Clinic, the typical medicinal dose is 20 milligrams for adults and 10 milligrams. It is suggested it be taken once a day, usually in the morning. The prescribing physician is likely to adjust the dosage. This adjustment can be 60mg in adults and 30mg in children. It will depend on their patient’s response to the medication.

  • There’s no reliable guideline for how much a recreational user can take safely.
  • First-time non-medical users have little to no tolerance built up to the drug and can feel its effects normally prescribed 20mg dose.
  • For long-term recreational users, bigger doses are needed to experience the stimulant effects of the drug.

Adderall comes in two variations: instant release pills, which can have effects that last four to six hours, and extended-release that can have effects lasting up to 12 hours, writes PSYCOM contributor Kathleen Smith, Ph.D. These numbers, however, are for medicinal purposes.

  • So, when using Adderall to get “high,” the length of the effects will vary based on a person’s tolerance and the amount and way they ingested the drug.

The most common way people use Adderall, either medicinally or recreationally, is to ingest it in tablet form. It’s also not uncommon for people using it for non-medical reasons to abuse Adderall in the following ways:

  • Crush the tablets and snort them
  • “Cook” them down for intravenous use
  • Use Adderall in combination with other substances, including alcohol

Adderall abuse and addiction have spiked, especially among college students. Before the opioid epidemic, some people considered the drug to be the most abused prescription medication. HuffPost contributors Dr. Ronald Ricker and Dr. Venus Nicolino report that it’s mostly misused by college students and write, “Estimates are that somewhere between 20-30 percent of college students regularly abuse Adderall.”

Data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) back this up. One NIH study, published in the Journal of American College Health, found that 34 percent of 1,811 undergraduates surveyed admitted to the illegal use of ADHD stimulants, such as Adderall.

Author Lian-Yu Chen, MD, who received her Ph.D. in 2014 from the Bloomberg School, writes, “The number of prescriptions for Adderall has fallen, and yet we see more medical problems from its use. This suggests that the main driver of misuse and emergency room visits related to the drug is the result of the diversion, people taking medication that is legitimately prescribed to someone else. Physicians need to be much more aware of what is happening and take steps to prevent it from continuing.”

Charlotte Lieberman wrote in Cosmopolitan; “Almost everyone in my circle at Harvard took a friend’s “Addy” on occasion. Some were crunch-time pill poppers who relied on Adderall to survive finals week; others were disinterested semi-slackers who used it to motivate themselves for classes they didn’t care about. And then there were people like me: academically obsessed library dwellers who got a feverish aura about them whenever the drug was mentioned.”

Getting high on this drug doesn’t come without consequences. There are serious side effects, including;

  • Abnormal heart rate, high or low blood pressure, rapid breathing
  • Agitation, confusion, mood swings
  • Tremors, sweats, elevated body temperature, dry mouth
  • Pain during urination, erectile dysfunction
  • Muscle pain
  • Depression, anxiety, paranoia
  • Addiction

Despite its reputation as a “smart” drug that the young working and college-aged set uses to stay focused or party into the wee hours of the night, drug abuse is dangerous. Recreational use over a long period will certainly take its toll on the body’s overall health and well-being, as listed above.