It is estimated that about 14 million prescriptions for medications designed to treat the symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are given out every month in the United States to patients between the ages of 20 and 39. Those numbers were from 2011 and represent a sharp increase up from the 5.6 million prescriptions written to the same population for the same purpose just four years prior, according to the New York Times.
The increased number of prescriptions may be due in part to an increased understanding of the issues facing many adults who live with ADHD, but it is definitely due to an increased number of patients who have developed an addiction to these medications – like Adderall, Vyvanse, Concerta, Ritalin and others – thanks to its stimulant effects and the ability it gives them to focus for hours at a time. The problem is that chronic use of these drugs can lead to psychosis, delusion, aggressive behavior, and an inability to function healthfully. For many, the mental health problems it causes can be so great that suicide is the result.
Breaking the Stereotype of Addiction
Young adults who are living with an addiction to drugs like Adderall are not the stereotypical “junky” living in the shadows, breaking laws, and clearly at odds with the basic social contracts of social interaction and personal responsibility. The patients who are developing an addiction to Adderall are smart. They present well. They are well dressed and well behaved, often affluent with lofty academic and career goals. They often begin taking these drugs because they are looking for assistance to study for tests or complete multiple projects efficiently. They don’t necessarily consider that a life-altering – or life-ending – addiction can be the result.
The Risks of Untreated ADHD Medication Addiction
Unfortunately, stimulant ADHD medication addiction can be hugely mind-altering. Though it provides focus for between six and eight hours to those who are new to use of the drug, a higher and higher dose will be necessary to achieve these same effects after a few months of use, and higher doses increase the negative side effects experienced. Over time, patients often begin to experience:
- Uncontrollable rage and violent behavior
- Extreme mood swings that are drug-dependent (e.g., on the medications the patient may be friendly but when they wear off, he may be morose or aggressive)
- Paranoia that people or objects are spying on them
- Delusional behavior
Treatment Changes the Course of Addiction
If your loved one is living with an active addiction to ADHD medication, help them find balance in their lives through addiction treatment. Contact us at Alta Mira today for more information.