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Teen Drug Trends: Adderall Abuse On the Rise

June 15, 2016

Teen Drug Trends: Adderall Abuse On the Rise

While the abuse of many drugs has gone down among teenagers, the abuse of prescription stimulants continues to rise. According to the 2015 Monitoring the Future Survey, 7.7% of 12th graders reported non-medical use of amphetamines in the past year, with 7.5% reporting Adderall specifically. This makes “study drugs” the most commonly abused drugs (prescription or illicit) among high school seniors, after marijuana. 

NIDA MTF2015 Teen Drug Trends

Commonly known as speed, uppers, bennies or vitamin R, teens are continuing to report that access to these prescription stimulants is fairly easy. With family and friends being their main source, this raises the question, “How is it possible so many of these friends or family members have Adderall or Ritalin in their home?” A recent press release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points to one of the possible reasons: 

“The CDC’s latest Vital Signs report urges healthcare providers to refer parents of young children with ADHD for training in behavior therapy before prescribing medicine to treat the disorder… About 75% of young children being treated for ADHD received medicine, and only about half received any form of psychological services, which might have included behavior therapy.”

To put the CDC’s concerns into perspective, this report looks at healthcare claims from approximately two million children between the ages of 2 and 5. Out of the 2 million children in this age group diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), 49% are receiving medication as the only form of treatment for their condition. In total, 76% receive ADHD medication, which is approximately 1,500,000 prescriptions for this age group alone.

Know the Signs and Symptoms

You may be asking yourself, “Why are teenagers abusing stimulants such as Adderall?” By being able to stay awake longer and enhance their focus to study harder, many teens report taking these medications because they believe it will help them do better in their academics. Others are abusing them simply out of curiosity or to get high. Regardless of the reason, teens are ignoring the possible health effects, which include: 

  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Narrowed blood vessels
  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Heart failure

If your teen is abusing a stimulant such as Adderall, you may notice the following behaviors: 

  • Staying up all night
  • Anger and obnoxious outbursts
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden weight loss

With many of the commonly abused drugs being right in your or a neighbor’s medicine cabinet, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of abuse. This awareness may help you to intervene early if your child starts to exhibit the signs, and get them the help they need before their abuse turns into a full-blown addiction. 


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