Prescription Stimulants Taking a Toll on Young Adults

Young adults are increasingly at risk of prescription drug abuse. This has been proven especially true for prescription stimulant drugs like Adderall and Ritalin.

Young adults use these drugs as a study aid or “party aid” because they allow them to stay awake longer. Normally indicated for Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.), Adderall and Ritalin contain amphetamine salts and similar chemical compounds which increase the amount of dopamine circulating in the brain. They help those with A.D.D focus, but give the feeling of hyper-alertness for those without A.D.D.

The number of young adults visiting the emergency room after abusing stimulants has quadrupled over the past 6 years – from 5,600 visits in 2005 to 23,000 in 2011. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) attributes this rise to young adults having greater access to stimulants. According to their data, in 2011 the majority of young adults had access to stimulants by getting them from friends and relatives.

Peter J. Delany of SAMHSA says the rise is pronounced among those 18-25 years old. Unfortunately, many young adults aren’t aware of the health and legal consequences of abusing stimulants. In many states, possessing just one pill without a prescription is a felony charge and having as few as 5 pills can be considered trafficking.

The health consequences can also be severe – especially when combined with alcohol. Many young adults end up visiting the emergency room with palpitations, severe anxiety, paranoia and heart and blood vessel problems. Some even end up with psychosis after taking too much over an extended period of time and some get alcohol poisoning because stimulants mask the effects of being drunk.

For a young adult, the legal and health consequences can be lifelong. What often starts out as innocent use of stimulants – such as using them during finals at college – can quickly turn into not-so-innocent consequences because of the addictive nature of stimulants.

At Harmony Foundation we understand the consequences of addiction among young adults, which is why we have created special Young Adult Recovery Track. We help bring young adults back from the often-quick downward spiral of prescription drug abuse.