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Teen Stimulant Abuse

Teen Stimulant Abuse

Understanding The Dangers of Adderall Abuse

At Advocate Children’s Hospital - Park Ridge, we take the growing incidence of Adderall abuse and addiction seriously. Referred to as a “study” or “party” drug, because of its impact on a person’s ability to focus and perform under stress, Adderall can have very dangerous side effects when used for non-medical purposes.

Adderall Addiction
The most concerning side effect is addiction. Kids often assume that Adderall is safer than cocaine or other illicit drugs because it is prescribed by doctors. But, Adderall is considered to be as addictive as cocaine when used inappropriately.

Adderall is traditionally prescribed to treat patients with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Narcolepsy. These patients are much less likely become addicted to Adderall because it is thought to make up for a chemical imbalance in the brain. When there is no imbalance, a stimulant, like Adderall is not being used like a natural brain chemical. Instead, it creates a ‘high’ much like what one would get from using cocaine. As misuse continues, a person’s tolerance for the drug increases so that more of it is needed to achieve the same high, leading to addiction.

Medical Side Effects
Adderall has several other medical side effects including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Liver damage
People who overdose or become addicted to Adderall run the risk of even more serious conditions:
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Psychosis
  • Seizures

What Parents Can Do
If your child has a prescription for Adderall or another stimulant, talk with him or her about the serious repercussions that can result from sharing or selling their medication. Adderall is considered a schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, which means that buying or selling Adderall to someone without a prescription can carry the same punishment as buying or selling cocaine, morphine and methamphetamine.

If you are concerned that your child might be using or abusing stimulants for school performance, notice if there are any changes in behavior or if their school performance has shifted suddenly. Talk to them about the risks associated with using Adderall and other drugs. Research has demonstrated that children who are educated about the risks of drug abuse are less likely to become abusers.

If your adolescent, teen or college student has an Adderall addiction, it must be treated like any other substance abuse problem with therapy and drug rehabilitation. For assistance in determining if your child would benefit from counseling or rehabilitative services, contact our Adolescent Medicine department at 847.318.9300.

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