Stimulant abuse creates problems for people with ADHD

Photo by Dotun Jide

When we discuss ADHD, the image that comes to mind is often a young child in elementary school who cannot sit still, distracts those around them and does poorly in their academics.

In reality, ADHD isn’t just something that affects hyper six-year-olds, but also university students and working professionals. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects about six per cent of children and four per cent of adults in Canada every year.

While the average age of diagnosis and the beginning of treatment is seven, many who are afflicted with ADHD are not diagnosed until much later in life. When a student is diagnosed with ADHD in university, it becomes incredibly difficult for them to get proper treatment due to the ever-growing university culture of stimulant prescription drug abuse.

Oftentimes when we hear about Adderall, it is in the context of university students using the drug to finish a last-minute paper, cram for an upcoming exam or even to get high and party.

Adderall is one of the strongest prescription stimulants on the market, and is only prescribed to those with severe cases of ADHD. The drug is intended to help people, particularly students, be able to focus and pay attention to their work because they are unable to do this on their own without medication.

When university students choose to abuse prescription stimulants like Adderall, they are causing harm both to themselves and those who genuinely need access to these drugs.

For a university student with limited time and seemingly unlimited work to complete, Adderall, a “smart drug,” may seem like the perfect solution. Being an ADHD medication, Adderall increases focus and decreases the user’s desire to eat and sleep.

Most people who are abusing Adderall and similar prescription stimulants likely do not realize the harm that they are potentially causing to themselves and others. Adderall is a Schedule II Controlled Substance, meaning that the drug has a high potential for addiction and dependence.

Those who abuse these medications are creating a difficult road block for these students to have to overcome in order to get the medication that they need.

Since it is an amphetamine, the addictive properties of Adderall are similar to that of cocaine. Using Adderall when one does not have ADHD can quickly cause the user to build a dependence and develop ADHD-like symptoms of being unable to focus without the drug.

This often leads to the user to continue abusing Adderall and other stimulants because they become unable to focus or function without it.

The user will need to start taking a higher dosage in order to feel the same effects, putting their mental and physical health at risk. Large dosages of stimulants can cause seizures, heart attacks or even sudden death.

In addition to being potentially harmful to the user, stimulant abuse on university campuses can make it incredibly difficult for students with an ADHD diagnosis to get their necessary prescription.

Many doctors tend to be suspicious, and rightfully so, that the student who is requesting a stimulant prescription is either going to abuse the prescription, or sell it to be abused by someone else.

If a student had not been diagnosed with ADHD as a child, there is the potential that they could have developed ADHD like symptoms from previously abusing stimulants and developing a dependence.

Unfortunately, this leads to many students who actually need to use a stimulant in order to be successful in school, either being denied access to stimulant medication or having to go through intensive, expensive testing in order to verify their illness.

A student who truly has severe ADHD will struggle significantly in school without their medication. Prescription stimulant medication is what allows these students to be able to focus in lectures, focus on their homework and readings and complete assignments on time.

Those who abuse these medications are creating a difficult road block for these students to have to overcome in order to get the medication that they need.

Considering the harm that can be caused to oneself and to their peers, students should be opting for better time management and study habits rather than stimulant abuse.

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