When there is a discussion about misusing prescription drugs, most people think about this nation’s opioid epidemic. This is a serious and growing issue, but the abuse and misuse of stimulant prescription medications is also a concern. Recent research reveals just how prevalent this misuse is and some of the motivations for abusing these drugs among U.S. adults..

What Are Prescription Stimulants?

Prescription stimulants are controlled medications that are often used to treat conditions such as narcolepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The medicines increase energy, alertness, and attention.

These medications can increase the activity in the brain chemicals of norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine affects blood pressure, heart rates, blood vessels, breathing, and blood sugar. Dopamine can produce feelings of pleasure.

Some of the most commonly prescribed stimulants include:

  • Adderall
  • Dexedrine
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta

Study Reveals That 5 Million Americans Are Misusing Prescription Stimulants

The effects of these prescribed stimulant drugs will vary, depending on whether or not they are being used for a legitimate need. There is evidence, however, that the non-prescription use of Adderall has skyrocketed.

A recent study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry reveals that 5 million adults in the U.S. are misusing stimulant prescriptions without a use disorder, and 4 million have a drug abuse issue. The most common reason for the misuse is cognitive enhancement.

Prescription stimulants are commonly used among students and other adults to improve concentration and alertness. Unfortunately, research suggests that the benefits derived from these medications are inconsistent and minimal. In fact, there are some real dangers associated with this type of drug abuse.

Pharmacy shelves stacked with medication bottles.

Just because some stimulants are prescription drugs, that does not mean that they cannot cause damage.

What Are the Dangers of Stimulant Misuse and Abuse?

Since drugs like Adderall affect the brain, there has been speculation that misuse could lead to negative effects on the body and mind.  One study released by the National Institutes of Health revealed that chronic methamphetamine users (an illicit stimulant similar to Adderall) have multiple brain chemistry abnormalities. This includes changes in structure and function, particularly in the region of the brain that has higher concentrations of dopamine.

Other studies have found that misusing Adderall can lead to damaged nerves. Even though these consequences are frightening, there is one other thing to consider when misusing drugs like Adderall. Prescription stimulants are addictive substances, so users run a high risk of developing a substance use disorder the longer and more of the substance they consume.

Where to Turn for Stimulant Addiction Treatment

If you are unable to stop using prescription stimulants such as Adderall, an addiction treatment program can help you break free from the compulsion to use these drugs. At The Recovery Village, we offer stimulant addiction treatment that includes medical detox, followed by a comprehensive treatment program that we tailor to suit your needs.

You may need inpatient or outpatient care, or some combination of the two. We also offer family therapy and other holistic therapies that will enhance your experience and help you develop the tools you need to create a successful life in recovery.  Contact us now to learn more about admissions and find out how you can break free from addictive prescription stimulants with our professional and compassionate guidance.

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