There is prevalence in the use of prescription drugs among high school and college students observed in the last 10 years across the United States. Adderall is one of the legal drugs that is continuously gaining notoriety in college campuses and even in the workplace. Referred to as “study drug” or “smart drug”, young people are using it for non-medical purposes to help them focus and stay awake when studying or doing work, largely increasing their productivity, if not creativity.
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It is a stimulant that targets the central nervous system, and primarily designed for the treatment of attention deficit disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, which is a severe type of sleep disorder. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies Adderall as a Schedule II drug which basically means that this is highly controlled drug but can be prescribed by a physician for medical purposes. Though the drug has useful medical functions, misusing or abusing it can lead to dependence.
What Is Alcohol?
Alcohol is a depressant that also targets the central nervous system. Where Adderall, a stimulant, increases the function of the excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain whereas alcohol inhibits the N-methyl-D-aspartate excitatory neurotransmitter, and increases the inhibitory neurotransmitters. According to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Alcohol is the most abused substance across the United States.
Mixing Adderall and Alcohol
Basic instructions when taking prescription medication include not taking alcohol when using prescription medication, or vice-versa. In short, mixing Adderall and alcohol is not advised.
A significant dose of Adderall will weaken the effects of alcohol. In combination with Adderall, people will be able to delay the groggy, sleepy, and depressing effect of alcohol. This means that a person under the influence of an Adderall-alcohol combo will have more time to do activities and a long time before passing out due to alcohol effect. The combination of Adderall and alcohol leads to:
- Decreasing the effects of alcohol
- Feeling of euphoria and excitement
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased level of alertness
- Loss of appetite
College students tend to abuse Adderall if they wish to study with improved concentration for a longer period of time. To counter the effects of Adderall such as hyperactivity and restlessness, alcohol is taken. The combo is also a party drug as taking Adderall with alcohol will counteract the effects of alcohol, allowing them to party longer, and drink huge amounts of alcoholic beverages without getting drunk.
Dangers Of Adderall and Alcohol Combo
Adderall as stimulant blocks the depressant effects of alcohol. It is highly probable that people will overdose on alcohol, leading to alcohol poisoning due to the stimulant canceling the inebriating effect of alcohol. The negative effects of both substances are enhanced – issues with nausea and vomiting could lead to dehydration. Palpitations, headaches, insomnia and weight loss are other adverse physical effects.
A person under the influence of both substances is more likely to have issues with rational thinking and impaired judgment. He becomes more aggressive, has less motor coordination and visual perception, and have fewer inhibitions that could prompt him to take life-threatening risks. Short and long-term psychological effects include anxiety, paranoia, psychotic episodes and depression.
One of the effects of Adderall and alcohol abuse is stress on the cardiovascular system. Long-term effects of Adderall abuse include increased potential for developing stroke and cardiovascular disease as well as a neurological disorder, cognitive problems and damage to the central nervous system. The “study drug” may actually lead a person abusing it to have problems with learning, memory retention, and concentration. He might lose the skill to solve complicated problems, deal with apathy and exhibit depression that could lead to psychosis.
Recent studies indicate that individuals who abuse Adderall or Adderall combined with alcohol tend to have lower grades, as well as insignificant academic and professional achievements. In reality, Adderall does not enhance the cognitive abilities of users.
Who Uses Adderall
Today’s millennials seem to be the first batch of Americans prescribed stimulants during childhood and adolescence to medically address ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD. Studies indicate that men, ages 15 to 30 are the most gullible in abusing these drugs.
For some of them, the urge to continue using this drug as is, or in combination with alcohol continues even after graduation from secondary level. Most millennials are now in the workplace, bringing their prescription stimulants as job-performance enhancers.
A recently published article presented that workers in the fields of business, technology, finance, arts and other lines of work are using stimulants such as Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin to keep up with work and gain some advantage in their fields. It is no surprise that a good number of the working force use stimulants as a 2015 survey indicated that one in six tertiary level students misuse or abuse prescription stimulants for enhancing school performance. For them, the use of Adderall is a “successful” work habit and therefore merits continuous use after college.
There is still no dependable data that quantifies the use of stimulants in the workplace. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is looking into this new drug trend. A study concerning 11 million Americans in the workplace indicated that an alarming number tested positive for illegal substances, with amphetamines from Adderall and Ritalin coming in close second to marijuana as the most common drug detected. In relation, about 5 million adults (26 to 34 years old) have legitimate prescriptions for ADHD, and this definitely affects the number of adults in the workplace using drugs.
The use of prescription stimulants is seen in professions where the bulk of employees are in their 20s. Taking Adderall becomes a necessity for them to perform well in their tasks and get ahead of the game so to speak. If a potential workplace competitor is using Adderall to his advantage, others might be forced to take the stimulant too in order to even out the playing field.
Adderall is addictive. Users rationalize that they only use the drug on a per case basis as a performance-enhancing drug. But when one uses Adderall because of “need” and not by “choice”, then there is a problem.
Addiction to amphetamines is a process. One does not get addicted to the drug by using it on occasions. But when misuse becomes dependence, denial on the part of the user is so compelling as he himself believes that he has it under control.
Adderall addiction symptoms include:
- Inability to complete tasks without taking Adderall
- A higher dose is needed for peak effect
- Inability to stay alert and focused without taking Adderall
- Use of Adderall in spite of knowing that doing so is harmful
In effect, Adderall is not only addictive, but drug detoxification is possible. Misuse of this stimulant also complicates alcohol detoxification as it intensifies withdrawal symptoms of alcohol dependence. Substance abuse and dependency are treatable but you should always choose medically supervised alcohol detoxification more so if other drugs such as Adderall is involved.