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Ritalin and Adderall: Drug Abuse on College Campuses in Denver

Two female college students take a break on campus on a warm, sunny day.
This is what college should be like—happy and hopeful. Students who abuse so called “study drugs” can easily become addicted and out-of-control.

You’re a parent—of course you’ve worried about your college student and drugs. Heroin. Painkillers. Cocaine. You name it—and you’ve probably thought about it.

But what may have slipped your mind—Ritalin and Adderall—are among the most popular drugs on campus. Both drugs are intended to treat children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but have been increasingly used by young adults as a way to study for longer period of time, with increased focus and alertness.

According to a 2016 study by the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the number of prescriptions for Adderall didn’t change from 2006 to 2011. But there was a sharp rise in the number of 18 to 25 years olds abusing the drug. Specifically, nonmedical use increased by 67 percent and emergency room visits spiked by 156 percent. One half of those visits, it should be noted, were caused by mixing Adderall with alcohol or other drugs.

But if prescriptions for Adderall didn’t go up, where did everyone get their “study drugs” from? Mostly from friends or family, according to the study.

Prescription Drug Abuse: The Situation in Denver

The abuse of Adderall and Ritalin is rampant across the country, including at Denver and other Colorado campuses.

A few years back, two University of Colorado students were arrested and charged with felonies for selling Adderall to fellow students.

Around the same time, two other students at the same university launched an Adderall awareness campaign. They created the hashtag #AdderallProblems and left cards all over campus depicting the downside of the drugs. You can stay up all night studying, the cards suggested, but you might also sleep through the test. The cards also warned that you might find yourself yelling at yourself to stop talking to yourself.

While humor was used to make a point, the message was serious. The jury is still out on how helpful Adderall and Ritalin actually are. But the downsides are already clear.

For starters, the drugs wind you up. It’s well known that many college students, after they’re done studying, take the edge off by drinking or smoking pot. That introduces another potential addiction.

But, almost more importantly, what happens when a student becomes dependent on drugs in order to study or write a paper? What happens when they can not function in an academic—or professional—setting without them?

The Time for Help

Just like other drugs, some people manage to use Ritalin or Adderall recreationally and dodge addiction. But they’re both Schedule 2 Controlled Substances, the same classification as cocaine and heroin. For parents, that means it’s important to maintain a heightened level of awareness—and seek help professional helpwhen necessary. The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver that treats addiction, including Adderall and Ritalin. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our stimulant addiction treatment program.

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