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College Students and Adderall Abuse (Guide)

Posted: October 8, 2020 by in Hope Recovery Addiction Center

The transition from high school to college is an exciting time in a young person’s life. Unfortunately, all too often the shock of the workload that college professors assign quickly turns any feelings of excitement into a university-sized sense of stress. More and more, college students are turning to prescription stimulants like Adderall to deal with late-night cram sessions and to focus on the multiple papers and tests that will be assigned. Even short-term use of Adderall for studying can cause an array of physical and mental health issues for college students.

Any type of drug abuse or addiction during a person’s college years can have devastating consequences. If you or a young adult in your life may have a problem with Adderall use, we can help you to explore drug treatment options. Please call 918-779-0011 for more information on Adderall abuse.


Keep reading on to learn more about how college students can abuse Adderall. If you require additional resources then please contact our experts today.

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How Prescription Stimulants Work

Adderall is a stimulant drug. In fact, Adderall is made up of two stimulants, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, that mimic the reward chemical dopamine. Dopamine is released in small amounts when we do “feel good” activities like eating or playing sports. This chemical rush of Adderall causes a euphoric high that sharpens concentration and alertness. In addition, Adderall can greatly suppress appetite. The drug is most commonly taken in its regular pill form but some users crush the pills and dissolve them in liquid to drink, inject, or snort the drug.  Like all illicit drugs, Adderall has many names including smart pills, addys, dexies, and study buddies.

Regular Uses for Adderall

Furthermore, Adderall is generally prescribed for people who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the sleep disorder, narcolepsy. This stimulant drug boosts energy, concentration, and focus. For children and adults with ADHD, Adderall helps to improve attention span, hyperactiveness, and impulsiveness. Symptoms include restlessness, forgetfulness, and trouble paying attention. Unfortunately, this ability to keep a person awake and alert are why college students prefer using Adderall to help study. Only severe cases of Narcolepsy, which can cause hallucinations and sleep paralysis, are treated with Adderall due to the potential for side-effects. Even regular use causes a euphoria high, increased breathing, cleared breathing airways, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Abuse and addiction risks remain even at normal dosages

Possible Side Effects of Adderall

At high dosages, even short-term use of Adderall can cause heart problems such as irregular heartbeat, and low blood pressure. Additionally, it can cause stomach issues like cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Users who inject the drug also risk injection site infection, hepatitis, and HIV. Long-term health effects can include paradoxical drug reactions like lethargy, fatigue, and lack of motivation which can be devastating for a college student. Some studies suggest the presence of mental health issues may predispose a person towards Adderall abuse. Adderall users were also shown to be more likely to abuse other types of drugs than non-users. Lastly, Adderall can severely interrupt sleep patterns and the ability to focus on things like tests and studying, making it even more likely that college students will repeatedly return to the drug.

Use of Stimulants Among College Students

Due to increasing academic pressures, the use of Adderall for studying on American college campuses is estimated to be between 5% and 35%. This huge leap from 7.5% of high school students who use the drug can be attributed to added stress, an increased workload, and ease of access. Because Adderall helps to increase focus and it can keep you awake for an extended period of time, college students use it to study. In fact, students report and added pressure to perform due to ultra-competitive and crowded fields like the medical industry and law. Unfortunately, even cognitive enhancement drug use among medical students occurs.

Why Adderall for Studying?

Prescription drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Focalin are much easier to obtain than illicit ones like meth or cocaine. In fact, college students can usually find a friend of a friend who has a prescription for Adderall. The National Institutes of Health state that, “Non-medically prescribed use of psychostimulants was common, with 63% of students with at least one-lifetime use stating that they received their psychostimulant from a friend, relative, classmate or acquaintance.” Adderall has steadily risen in popularity as the most prescribed ADHD medication for adults. Moreover, students don’t seem to view the drug as harmful due to its ubiquitousness. In 2016, over 38% of surveyed 19 to 22-year-olds said that they thought that using Adderall to study was not harmful in any way.

Evidence of Academic Failure

Moreover, one of the more ironic things about Adderall abuse is the widespread idea that the drug makes college students perform better and more intelligent. Though Adderall temporarily increases focus and alertness for studying, long-term abuse has been shown to cause serious academic damage. Students who report using Adderall to study on a regular basis routinely perform worse at tests and they tend to procrastinate more than students who do not. These students also carry a lower GPA than that of those who don’t. The end result of short term Adderall abuse for college students does more harm than it could ever do good. It’s important for college students to pay attention to the perceived benefits of Adderall versus the potential for side-effects.

If you are concerned your child might be abusing Adderall then contact us today. Our specialists can help you figure out what the best course of action is for you and your family.

College Stress Gives Way to Adderall Abuse

As with all drugs, legal or illicit, repeated or chronic abuse can lead to addiction issues. Over time, using Adderall to help study can cause college students to become dependent on the feelings of euphoria and confidence that the drug gives off and can cause an array of physical health problems. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that “prescription stimulant misuse can lead to substance abuse disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases, even when used as prescribed by a doctor.” If a person suddenly stops use of the drug, withdrawal symptoms including extreme lethargy and despondency.

Stress and the College Way of Life

Though more and more young people are choosing to attend college every year, the national acceptance rate remains about 65%. The importance of getting into a “good” college is stressed upon students beginning even before high school. Students are often also dealing with extra workloads due to the need to add extracurricular activities and possibly advanced placement classes to make college transcripts look even better. Unfortunately, some students end up needing to throw a full or part-time job in the mix in order to survive. However, the American Institute of Stress says that educators are failing to teach how to cope with all of the extra stress put upon these newly minted adults. All of this stress plus the physical damage and mental damage that Adderall can take a massive toll on college students. Continued abuse of Adderall under these conditions can cause paranoia, severe anger, and even psychosis.

Adverse Health Effect of Adderall Abuse

A number of reported health effects are associated with long-term Adderall abuse. Adderall addiction can be difficult to spot as users can sometimes go to great lengths to hide drug abuse from parents or friends. It can be even more difficult to recognize proof of Adderall abuse in college students who are living away from home. It’s important to note that Adderall abuse does not always mean that addiction has occurred. Signs of abuse to look for include:

  • Mood swings
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiousness
  • Stomach pains and constipation
  • Depression
  • Weight loss
  • Headache

Overdose on Adderall looks much different than abuse and emergency service should be called immediately if you ever see your student with the following symptoms:

  • Slurred speech
  • High fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Facial swelling

Treatment for Adderall Abuse

Due to the rising popularity of using Adderall to study, parents should pay careful attention to changes in mood or behaviors in their college-aged children. Also, it’s important to remember that young adults nowadays deal with an entirely different type and amount of stress than previous generations. In fact, teens are also more willing to try new drugs to deal with stress in college after having escaped a parent’s watchful eye.  Additionally, accessibility to not only study drugs but also other substances like marijuana and cocaine becomes as easy as asking a classmate. Treatment for Adderall or other drug abuse may become necessary for these students.

Behavioral Changes in College

Personality changes in your teen are to be expected when they get to college. Students may begin to dress differently, start to hang with new, interesting friends, and go to parties. Alcohol abuse during college is a commonly known danger for parents to look for but the influence of a new, stimulating environment and the drug use that it may bring cannot be underestimated. Students who abuse Adderall or other prescription stimulants are more likely to experiment with other drugs or alcohol. You may need to seek treatment for your student if you observe any of the following:

  • Lower grades than peers
  • Skipping or ditching classes
  • Less focus on studying
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Marijuana or other recreational drug use
  • Mixing of other drugs with stimulants

Help Your Teen to Find Treatment

Most rehab treatment options for college students are based on proven methods for adults. A few of the most popular forms of rehab include cognitive-behavioral therapy, the Matrix Model, and motivational interviewing. As a parent, it is crucial to research yourself about their addiction and exactly what their treatment plan will entail. Find out what a center’s philosophy is and how long your child may stay inpatient and sure to ask for proof of accreditation from a certified state board. Facilities should be located as close as possible to a teen’s support system as possible. Advocating for your teen at all stages of the rehab process will build confidence in them and yourself to tackle Adderall addiction.

If you would like more information about what treatment is best for you and your teen, then contact us today. We can help you and your child stay happy and healthy while they are in college, and after.

You Can Overcome Adderall Abuse

For college students who are dealing with the added stress of increased workloads, social pressure, and parental expectations, Adderall can seem like a silver bullet to academic success. However, the risks of abuse, addiction, and other negative behavior outweigh the potential rewards. Talk with your student openly and honestly about Adderall abuse and know that there is hope. We can help you and your family to find quality rehab care for your child. Do not lose hope. Please call us today at 918-779-0011 for more information.

Written By: Dani Horn


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