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The past two decades have been full of debate about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), mostly centered on children. The arguments range from an over diagnosis of the condition to the proper approach for treatment. Recently, however, a new discussion is gaining momentum.
Mounting evidence shows that more and more adults without the disorder are abusing ADHD medications for so called “lifestyle reasons” and putting themselves at risk, with the false assumption of “better living through science.”
According to a report on “CBS This Morning,” prescriptions for Ritalin and Adderall, drugs commonly use to treat ADHD, are up by 53 percent from 2008 to 2012.
Both Ritalin and Adderall are amphetamines and cause a temporary burst of concentration and attention. “A lot of people,” says CBS medical correspondent, Dr. Holly Phillips, “use it get a competitive edge at work.”
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a mental disorder that causes above-normal levels of hyperactivity and disruptive behaviors in a person’s day-to-day life. Studies have shown that most adults with ADHD have likely had the condition since childhood, but weren’t diagnosed until later in life.
A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry claims that more than 4 percent of the adult population in the U.S. suffers from ADHD.
As with children, adult ADHD can make an individual and their family’s life extremely difficult.
What are the symptoms of ADHD in Adults?
- Anxiety and depression
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Chronic boredom, forgetfulness and tardiness
- Anger management issues
- Impulsiveness, severe mood swings and low self-esteem
- Poor organizational skills
- Problems maintaining relationships
A dual-diagnosis, the presence of a mental disorder and substance abuse or addiction, also referred to as a co-occurring disorder, is very common with ADHD patients. Left untreated, individuals often self-medicate using alcohol and drugs in an effort to ease their symptoms.
In patients diagnosed with ADHD, Ritalin and Adderall help level off over-active neurotransmitters in the brain that cause the condition.
The abuse of Ritalin and Adderall has been on the radar before. A University of Michigan survey in 2008 suggested that as many as 35 percent of college students misuse the drugs around times of stress, such as final exams. There have not been any long-term studies on the effects of this abuse on individuals without ADHD, which is what worries a great number of healthcare professionals.
What are the Negative Side Effects of Ritalin and Adderall Abuse?
- High blood pressure
- Nausea or decreased appetite
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Moodiness and irritability
- Liver damage
- Psychiatric problems
Dr. Phillips, when asked how people are getting the drugs, said, “I think it’s interesting. Some doctors are a little bit more lax with prescribing it.” She also pointed out that parents can easily use their children’s prescribed Ritalin or Adderall, and that it’s simple to obtain both medications over the Internet.
The number of people abusing ADHD drugs is not currently known. Based on the significant increase Ritalin and Adderall prescriptions, though, some government officials are calling for immediate action on the “lifestyle use” of these drugs.