The Alarming Rise Of Adderall Abuse On College Campuses

07/15/2017 05:46 am ET Updated Jul 15, 2017
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Adderall Abuse Has Grown Exponentially Among College Students

A 2009 study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that full-time college students were twice as likely to use Adderall for non-medical purposes as those in the same age group who were not keeping a full-time college schedule. Two years earlier, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse published a report by CASAColumbia at Columbia University, which highlighted alarming details about the abuse of Adderall on college campuses.

The CASAColumbia report found that between 1993 and 2005, there was a 93 percent increase in students who abused Adderall on college campuses. A number that correlated with the abuse of other prescription drugs by students. While Adderall is considered to be a “study drug” by those who take it, Amelia A. Arria, the director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, found the opposite to be true.

In a study, Arria interviewed 1,253 first-year college students at large public universities. She found that students using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons (I.E. staying up long nights without sleep) skipped 21 percent of their classes, while their counterparts only skipped 9 percent of theirs. Her study also found that prescription drug abusers had lower GPAs, spent less time study, and partied far more than non-users.

Harmful Effects Of Adderall

Extended Adderall usage can lead to damage to the brain, neurological systems, and internal organs. The American Addiction Center explains the physiological damage which occurs to abusers of the drug:

Stimulants increase concentration and energy levels while decreasing the need for sleep and suppressing appetites. Adderall increases the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain. These are messengers in the brain’s reward and motivation pathways, and they are responsible for the regulation of emotions and feelings of pleasure. The brain senses that there are enough neurotransmitters present, due to Adderall’s influence, and stops producing them, changing some of the brain’s natural reward circuitry. The more often Adderall is taken, the more ingrained these changes become. A tolerance to the drug may form, and more Adderall may be needed at each dose in order to feel the same desired effects.

A 2010 report by Susan James of ABC News tells the story of Kyle Craig who would commit suicide after becoming dependent on Adderall. Kyle's therapist would that she had "multiple concerns" about his health. Kyle was reported as having numerous mood swings, his personality changed and he eventually developed depression after he began using Adderall.

Millennial Entrepreneur Develops Alternative To Adderall

Millennials are starting businesses earlier than any other generation in the United States. The Adderall abuse epidemic encouraged a young college student to try and create a healthy alternative for students who want to enhance their focus.

Andrew Kozlovski, a 21-year-old University of Southern California student developed a much healthier alternative for students than Adderall. At 19, Andrew developed Brainz Power, “I came up with idea for the product because I witnessed a problem in the world first hand and thought that there must be a natural and safe solution,” he replied when I asked him the motivation behind developing the product.

“I wanted to start a business that helped solve a major problem in the world, and that problem I encountered was the abuse of Adderall among college students. My freshman year of college I began hearing about the drug so frequently that I researched it and found you had to have a prescription, but most student taking the drug are not prescribed it or faked symptoms to obtain it,” Andrew continued.

Andrew stated that he wanted to create a non-addictive drug which was available to everyone, safe, and without the "harmful effects of addictions, seizures, and depression." Developing supplements can be expensive - when asked how he initially funded the Adderall alternative Andrew stated, "I funded the entire business myself. I had a total of five hundred dollars at the age of 19 and I went all in on this idea I had." He continued by stating that he felt empowered by starting the business with a low amount of funds and would not have done it any other way.

Andrew stated he was initially surprised at how well his product was selling during its infancy, "Sales ramped up quick, at such a quick pace that I was unable to even think and comprehend the pace at which I was going I just had the blinders on and was working as hard as possible to help college students and grow my business to its full potential, " he stated.

What Universities Can Do To Fight Adderall Abuse

The Medicine Abuse Project provides a guide for possible measures Universities can take in order to fight prescription drug abuse on college campuses stating, "Colleges should consider providing a comprehensive support structure that integrates academic advising with assessment of substance use and mental health problems. One recommendation might be to flag students who exhibit a precipitous drop in their academic performance (e.g., from a 3.8 GPA to a 3.2 in one semester) and investigate what factors might be responsible."

They go on to state, “Most campus health centers are underfunded and need more resources and tools to address substance use, mental health problems, and adjustment issues among college students.” Unfortunately this is one of the key reasons abuse of Adderall and other prescription drugs has grown on campuses.

However, in 2008 the US Department of Education released a list of 30 model Universities who were excelling at preventing alcohol and drug abuse on their campuses, setting the groundwork for other Universities to follow.

To keep up with Walter’s journalism you can follow him @GentlemansHall on Twitter

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