How to Talk to Teens about Adderall Abuse
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is amphetamine, a potent stimulant that helps kids with ADHD focus, pay attention, control their impulsive behaviors and stop being hyperactive. It seems counterintuitive that a stimulant would have this effect, but in kids with ADHD, it does. Other medications for ADHD are similar to Adderall in that they are stimulants and produce similar effects. These include Concerta, Ritalin, Metadate and Vyvanse.
Why Are Teens Abusing Adderall?
If you don’t have ADHD, taking a stimulant like Adderall will make you feel jittery, energetic, awake and alert. Some people abuse it in order to lose weight. One side effect is loss of appetite, and the extra energy tends to make the user run around and burn off more calories. Another reason for abuse is to stay awake through the night. Truckers have long been known to abuse stimulants for this reason.
High school and college students often abuse Adderall as a study aid. They use it to stay focused and awake while studying for exams or writing essays and papers. The pressure to do well in school and get good grades has led a number of young people to try stimulants for studying. Statistics show that over 6 percent of college students abuse Adderall and other ADHD medications. Among high school students, the number is higher and it is increasing every year. In 2013, more than 7 percent of high-schoolers abused ADHD drugs.
What Are the Dangers of Misusing Adderall?
Adderall and other ADHD medications are controlled substances because they are habit-forming. Anyone abusing Adderall runs the risk of becoming addicted. The risk is very real, and dependence on amphetamines is not uncommon in those who abuse these kinds of stimulants. Taken at the levels that many abusers do, withdrawal from Adderall can be difficult and uncomfortable.
Another big risk of abusing these drugs is the possibility of experiencing side effects. Adderall has some dangerous side effects, and when taken without the advice of a doctor, these can be amplified. Side effects include restlessness, insomnia, headaches, weight loss, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and dry mouth. More serious consequences of misusing Adderall can include an elevated heart rate, chest pains, dizziness, muscle tics, aggression, seizures, delusions, hallucinations and a fever.
Talking to Your Teens
It is important that you talk to your children about Adderall abuse. Many young people fail to see the risks because they assume that prescription drugs are always safe. Educate your children so that they can make the best choices. Many teens turn to Adderall out of a desperate need to study more and because of pressure to get better grades. Make sure that your children have the skills needed to cope with these stresses in healthful ways. Model those behaviors and engage in stress-relief activities with them so that you can guide them.
Drug abuse in teens is a serious problem and can have terrible consequences. Arm your children with the knowledge they need to make good choices about drugs and teach them your values about drug abuse. Teens whose parents talk to them about drugs are less likely to use them.