When I was younger I was diagnosed with ADHD. Like many kids from my generation I was prescribed Adderall, a drug that was fairly new to the market and not much was really known about. The drug did what it was supposed to do for me. It allowed me to focus and helped me to not be so bored in class, but it also felt as if a part of me was gone. That the stimulant was numbing out something that made me inherently me and to be honest I liked it. Another factor that I think is often overlooked by the medical profession is the that the adolescent brain is at a very vulnerable state and the introduction of powerful drugs like Adderall, and Ritalin can leave the adolescent defenseless against addiction.
Adderall also acted as an appetite suppressant, which at the time I felt was an added bonus because I had an eating disorder and I couldn’t see a downside in any of this. I could focus better in class, eat less, and get out of myself all by swallowing one tiny pill.
Since I was prescribed the drug all this seemed to have a legitimacy to it that other drugs could not match. I didn’t really have to feel any of the guilt that I would get if I smoked pot, because I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I was simply following the doctor’s orders. But as I found in time, just because a doctor prescribes something doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks involved.
Having a genetic predisposition with both of my granddads being alcoholics I was more likely to fall into addiction, taking this addictive substance was a recipe for disaster. It didn’t happen overnight as for many years I took it responsibly but eventually when the level of emotional pain I was experiencing was enough I found this to be an easy escape.
I know that I am not alone in this experience. There were millions of children from my generation prescribed Adderall throughout the 90s and many experienced the same problems with addiction later on in life that I did.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a fairly known drug at this point, but some people are not aware that it is actually a combination of two different amphetamines. Amphetamines are stimulants that affect the central nervous system and are mostly used to treat narcolepsy, ADHD, and obesity. When Adderall is taken as prescribed it allows those who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder to concentrate on the task at hand without getting easily distracted. However, the drug can also produce a high that is similar to speed and methamphetamine, two very powerful drugs.
In 2012 an estimated 116,000 people entered into rehab for addiction to Adderall. Many of these people started taking this drug as prescribed during their youth, and like myself, found themselves addicted at some point during their usage.
While studies have shown that Adderall usage during a person’s adolescence does not increase the risk that they will become an addict later on in their life, the question does arise how does this drug affect those who have a predisposition to addiction?
The answer, while not completely across the board, is that the introduction of the drug to someone who is already predisposed to addiction means that they will more than likely experience a substance abuse problem in their lives. Many times, because they are introduced at such an early age, substance abuse problems will show up a lot sooner than if Adderall was not being used. This is not always the case, but more times than not if someone has the genetic or behavioral characteristics that will lead to addiction, Adderall will bring this out.
Adderall is essentially a legal form of speed and as such, like its opiate counterpart oxycodone, will have the same effects on people who are predisposed to being addicts. This puts parents and children in a tough position because on the one hand your child needs to be able to concentrate in class, but on the other hand prescribing them Adderall could lead to problems later on down the road. It is almost impossible to tell if someone has the potential to be an addict until it is too late, because there are no medical tests for this disease and the warning signs are often missed and are not very reliable anyway. So what do you do if you are placed in this position? Do you run the risk of getting your child a prescription to something that could possibly awaken the beast that is addiction, or do you just deal with their inability to concentrate?
Luckily, in the past 10 to 15 years safer alternatives for Adderall have been introduced onto the market, which has proved to be less addictive and equally as effective. Strattera is an example of this and it is the only ADHD medicine on the market that is not classified as a controlled substance.
Looking back it is hard to say if I would have suffered from similar substance abuse problems if I weren’t introduced to Adderall as a child. I may have been more precautious of the things that I put into my body, but honestly, I probably would have still became addicted to alcohol as I believe that my predisposition to substances means that whenever any mood or mind altering substance is ingested, my body reacts abnormally.
Regardless, the way that things played out is that at an early age I was introduced to Adderall and for the years to come I struggled with substance abuse problems. It scares me to think that so many other children had to suffer the things that I did and for what, so they could concentrate a little bitter? I don’t personally think that it is worth it and while ADHD is a real problem, how we got about dealing with it probably needs to change. Medicating children with powerful drugs is never a good idea and if they are predisposed to drug addiction, it just means further and uncontrollable problems down the road.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.