How to Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse

Two Parts:Doing Your Part to HelpRecognizing the Risks and Signs of Abuse

The prescription medication Adderall has proven to be an effective treatment option for millions of people who deal with conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, it is also widely abused, especially by college students and young adults who feel they need it in order to deal with their busy schedules. When taken without a prescription or in excess amounts, Adderall can be very addictive and very dangerous. Young adults cannot be prevented from using Adderall as readily as children, but you (as a concerned bystander) do have options to help prevent and deal with its abuse.

Part 1
Doing Your Part to Help

  1. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 1
    Don't share prescription medications and keep them secure. Young adult Adderall abusers use a variety of methods to acquire non-prescribed or excessive quantities of the medication. Sometimes they feign symptoms and seek out a doctor willing to prescribe Adderall, or go “doctor shopping” and get multiple prescriptions from multiple physicians. Most often, however, they simply buy, are given, or take pills from family, friends, or acquaintances.[1]
    • Whether it is Adderall or any other prescription medication, never share your pills with another person. The prescription is intended specifically for you, and may do physical harm or facilitate addiction by the person you think you are helping.[2]
    • Especially if you have a prescription medication that is addictive or susceptible to abuse, keep it in a secure (ideally locked) location, and keep track of the number of pills in your bottle.
  2. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 2
    Talk about the risks of Adderall abuse. Some twenty percent of college students admit to abusing a prescription stimulant (usually Adderall) at least once. They typically perceive this type of abuse as less risky and of less concern than abusing prescription pain medications, alcohol, or tobacco products.[3]
    • However, Adderall abuse is indeed a risky game to play. It carries the risk not only of addiction, but of mental health issues and even stroke or cardiac arrest, among other dangerous side effects.[4]
    • Ideally, you should start talking about the dangers of prescription drug abuse while the person is still a child or teen. Emphasize that prescription medications are only safe when used as directed by the person for whom they are intended, who has been examined and determined to need the medication by a physician. Point out that Adderall is a controlled substance for important reasons, and should not be treated (or used) lightly.[5]
  3. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 3
    Discuss alternatives for managing workloads and dealing with stress. Most young adults who abuse Adderall do so because they think they need the “tunnel-like focus” it provides in order to complete their schoolwork, deal with their other responsibilities, and find time for a social life. And, even if they have experienced negative side effects, some two-thirds of abusers believe Adderall has helped improve their grades or work performance.[6][7]
    • Some people can legitimately benefit from taking Adderall in order to function successfully, but typical healthy young adults can function perfectly well without it. Usually, a mix of better time management and stress management skills will be far more effective (and much safer) than Adderall abuse.
    • For college students in particular, improving time management skills can often go a long way toward removing the temptation to try Adderall. Consult wikiHow articles on taking notes and studying as good starting points for ideas on improving time management.
    • Poor time management can cause stress, and stress can in turn interfere with your ability to get things done. Consult How to Relieve Stress for a variety of resources on how to identify and address stress.
  4. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 4
    Keep trying to help someone dealing with Adderall abuse. It can be a particularly frustrating situation as a parent or other concerned party when dealing with a young adult Adderall abuser. If the individual is loading up on prescriptions from multiple doctors, for example, privacy laws and the fact that he or she is an adult will severely limit your ability to stop the flow of pills.[8]
    • Don’t quit trying to help, however. The abuser needs your help, even if he or she vigorously denies it. Look into therapists, recovery groups, treatment centers, and any other options at your disposal. Consider “tough love” like withholding tuition money or lodging if you think that will help, although it may also backfire. Most of all, keep telling the person you care about him or her and want to help.[9][10][11]
  5. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 5
    Don’t vilify the legitimate use of Adderall by those who benefit from it. Adderall abuse is a legitimate problem, and it is easy to find heartbreaking examples of its negative consequences. Don’t, however, let this reality make you see Adderall as an evil poison that should be avoided at all costs.[12]
    • When used properly by those who can benefit from it, and under the recommendation and care of an actively-engaged physician, Adderall is an overwhelmingly safe and largely effective treatment for conditions like ADHD.
    • Young adults who face limiting conditions like ADHD and can legitimately benefit from Adderall should not be prevented or strongly dissuaded from using it. Show your concern for this person by making sure he or she is informed about the medication and its possible side effects, and by emphasizing the importance of proper dosing and usage of it.

Part 2
Recognizing the Risks and Signs of Abuse

  1. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 6
    Learn about how Adderall works. Adderall is a brand name for dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, which is prescribed primarily for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. For most people, a dose of Adderall provides 6-8 hours of increased energy and sharper focus. Millions of people take Adderall under a doctor’s care, and although its long-term effects are not well known as of yet, it appears to be a generally successful and well-tolerated medication when taken properly.[13]
    • While Adderall can help bring focus and energy levels up to functional levels in those with certain medical conditions, in healthy individuals it can supercharge these levels for hours at a time.
    • Adderall has a “high potential for abuse” according to the FDA, and can be highly addictive. About ten percent of illicit users become addicted to the medication.[14]
  2. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 7
    Watch for early signs of Adderall abuse. Most young adults who use Adderall without a prescription take it only occasionally or as “needed,” such as to complete a research project due the next morning. Even a single dose, however, can cause noticeable and even dangerous side effects, which is why Adderall is intended to be taken only under a doctor’s care.[15]
    • Early warning signs of possible Adderall abuse can include symptoms such as: headache; dry mouth; hoarseness; insomnia; nausea or upset stomach; digestive problems; decreased appetite; diarrhea or constipation; anxiety; restlessness; rapid heartbeat; shortness of breath; fatigue; and changes in sex drive.
    • If a young adult you know seems to get short bursts of boundless energy that just as quickly “crash out” several hours later, keep a close eye out for signs of Adderall abuse.
  3. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 8
    Identify signs of continued Adderall abuse. When taken over a longer period of time or in excessive amounts, the side effects of Adderall use can become increasingly obvious and severe. Without proper dosing limits and continuing care by a physician, a user can quickly become addicted and go into denial about obvious signs of trouble.[16]
    • Continued abuse of Adderall can result in conditions including: weakness or numbness in the extremities; dizziness; slow or slurred speech; chest pain; hives or rash; blistered skin; vision problems; uncontrolled aggression; paranoia; mania; seizures; stroke; and cardiac arrest.
  4. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 9
    Take action if you suspect an Adderall overdose. Adderall is a controlled substance with a “black box” warning from the FDA primarily due to its propensity for abuse and its possibility of causing strokes and other cardiac events. When taken in excessive amounts, Adderall can quickly cause dangerous and life-threatening situations.[17]
    • Signs of an Adderall overdose can include: panic attacks; hyperventilation; cardiac rhythm abnormalities; hallucinations; severe tremors; severe confusion or delirium; vertigo; unconsciousness; and coma.[18]
    • Contact emergency services immediately if you have reason to suspect an Adderall overdose. You may save a life.
  5. Image titled Prevent Young Adult Adderall Abuse Step 10
    Prepare for withdrawal symptoms. If you can succeed in breaking an Adderall abuse habit — likely with the assistance of trained professionals — you should prepare to deal with withdrawal symptoms. The body of an abuser quickly becomes accustomed to regular Adderall dosing, and will not respond well to having this supply cut off. Identifying and dealing with withdrawal symptoms is a key element in an ex-abuser of Adderall remaining an ex-abuser.[19]
    • Former abusers going through withdrawal will often exhibit low energy, disrupted sleep patterns, and signs of depression. They may also complain of headaches, nausea, and other physical symptoms of withdrawal. It is vital that people in this delicate stage of recovery receive regular emotional and medical support. Medication may be warranted, and therapy is almost always helpful.

Article Info

Categories: Drug Addictions