A stimulant often prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, Adderall has become a drug of choice for those who suffer from neither condition but desire its energizing effects. Adderall joins the ranks of other prescription drugs that are increasingly being abused throughout the country.
A 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated the total number of Americans who abuse prescription drugs at 2.4 million, which calculates to about 6,600 people in the U.S. abusing some type of prescription drug per day.
Prescription drug abuse is slightly higher among women than men, the survey said, and about 33 percent of those who abuse Adderall and other prescription medications were in the 12 to 17 year-old age range.
Abuse of Adderall
The highest risk for prescription drug abuse falls on the shoulders of women, the younger set and older adults, although Adderall has a high potential for abuse and addiction for anyone who desires the effects for non-medical reasons.
Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) show the marked increase in prescriptions for Adderall and other stimulants from 1991 to 2010. Adderall contains amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and the statistics show a steady and dramatic increase in amphetamine prescriptions. About 1 million prescriptions were dispensed for amphetamines in 1991, with that number growing to about 15 million in 2010.
High School and Younger
Prescription drugs take a top slot on the list of the most commonly abused substances by high school seniors, only trailing behind alcohol, marijuana and tobacco. The abuse of Adderall and other stimulants continues to grow, despite the decline of tranquilizer and sedative use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The 2012 Monitoring of Future 8th grade, 10th grade and 12th grade students showed the abuse of Adderall and other prescription amphetamines. 8th graders who abused prescription amphetamines at least once over their lifetime clocked in a 4.5 percent, with 2.9 percent using them over the past year and 1.3 over the past month.
Abuse by 10th graders over their lifetime was 8.9 percent, with 6.5 abusing prescription amphetamines over the past year and 2.8 percent over the past month. High school 12th graders had the highest prescription amphetamine abuse of the three groups, with 12 percent abuse the prescription drug at least once in their life, 7.9 percent abusing them over the past year and 3.3 abusing them over the past month.
The Risk of Suicide and Mental Disorders
Adderall abuse can lead to death, and not necessarily in the form of an overdose. Suicide risk increases with amphetamine abuse, according to studies out of UCLA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that fact.
The CDC says suicides account for 12 percent of the annual deaths among 15 to 24 year-olds, making it the third leading cause of death in that age group. Of those who commit suicide in that age range, about 33 percent test positive for alcohol use and about 20 percent exhibit evidence of prescription drug use.
Those who abuse amphetamines additionally show higher rates of aggression and psychosis, according to ABC News. Adderall may also trigger irreversible bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.