Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is characterized by a dysfunctional pattern of behavior that arises before a person is 12 years old, as detailed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Children with this condition will exhibit multiple symptoms by the time they reach adolescence. Pharmaceutical stimulants like Adderall are typically prescribed to calm the excess neurological activity these individuals have. Unfortunately, research shows that college students without ADHD are also using the medication to excel or keep up in school while unaware of its inherent risks.
How prevalent is the problem?
Although only a small fraction of students report using Adderall for nonmedical purposes, the medication’s real danger lies in its high degree of availability and accessibility. According to the 2010 study, “Sharing and selling of prescription medications in a college student sample,” out of 483 students legally prescribed treatment, those specifically given medication for ADHD had a 61.7 percent diversion rate. This means that these individuals distributed Adderall or similar stimulants to others.
Other research has also highlighted how youth obtain Adderall through illegitimate means. Studies included a 2008 examination by April Bryington Fisher of Pennsylvania State University and Arizona State University’s Marley W. Watkins entitled, “ADHD Rating Scales’ Susceptibility to Faking in a College Student Sample.” The scholars found that college students were able to successfully fake 77 percent of the requirements on the ADHD Behavior Checklist and 93 percent of the College ADHD Response Evaluation. Further examples supported this, especially a 2010 study led by Myriam Sollman, Ph.D., called “Detection of feigned ADHD in college students.” These authors found that a dominant amount of subjects were able to fake a case of ADHD within just five minutes.
How to focus the attention off of Adderall
In order to combat this trending threat, clinical psychologist Todd Essig, Ph.D., explained that preventative messages should not only be informative, but also targeted to specific circumstances. Messages should adhere to certain scenarios, for example, if a student has not tried Adderall before, has thoughts about using it in the midst of an academic crisis or is currently abusing it and needs to stop. In terms of message content, students should be reminded that the drug is not a popular fad practiced by a majority of students, with only 6.4 percent of full-time students and 3 percent of part-time students reporting nonmedical usage between 2006 and 2007. Also, considering that Adderall is safe for ADHD patients, those who use it without the condition are extremely at risk for dependency and even death if taken excessively.
The academic authors agree that Adderall is a dangerous drug if used recklessly. Sovereign Health Rancho San Diego is a specialized facility that offers treatment to adolescents who are struggling with substance abuse and desire a chance to regain control of their lives. Call or visit us online to speak with a representative and begin paving a path to recovery.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer