Researchers say anecdotal evidence found the most several problem of Adderall misuse was among older children and adolescents, but new research finds otherwise.
The new study found that it is mostly 18 to 25 year olds taking Adderall without a prescription, and they are primarily getting it from family and friends.
"The growing problem is among young adults. In college, especially, these drugs are used as study-aid medication to help students stay up all night and cram. Our sense is that a sizable proportion of those who use them believe these medications make them smarter and more capable of studying. We need to educate this group that there could be serious adverse effects from taking these drugs and we don't know much at all about their long-term health effects," says says study co-author Ramin Mojtabai, MD, MPH, PhD, a professor of mental health at the Bloomberg School.
Lian-Yu Chen, MD, adds, "The number of prescriptions for Adderall has fallen and yet we are seeing more medical problems from its use. This suggests that the main driver of misuse and emergency room visits related to the drug is the result of diversion, people taking medication that is legitimately prescribed to someone else."
Researchers say Adderall does improve focus, but it can also cause sleep disruption and serious cardiovascular side effects, such as high blood pressure and stroke.
They say it also increase the risk for mental health problems including depression and bipolar disorder.
Researchers examined three separate sets of data for their study.
They found over six years, treatment visits involving Adderall were unchanged, while non-medical use of Adderall, those taking the drug without it being prescribed, rose 67 percent and emergency room visits increased 156 percent.
Mojtabai says that from a public health perspective, drugs like Adderall should be monitored in the same way that prescription painkillers have started to be monitored in recent years.
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