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Ritalin and Adderall: Abuse and Long-term Side Effects

A college student sits at his desk, working on a paper.
Adderall and Ritalin may help some people study or work better, but at what costs?

“Adderall is definitely not a drug.”

That quote comes from an Informa Healthcare study that interviewed 175 college students about their illegal use of stimulant drugs. Eighty-one percent of students said the drugs were either “not dangerous at all” or only “slightly dangerous.”

They could not be more wrong.

Both Adderall and Ritalin are listed, right alongside heroin and cocaine, as Schedule 2 controlled substances and carry many short-term and long-term risks.

Adderall and Ritalin Abuse Statistics

In 2012, 116,000 people were admitted to rehab for addiction to amphetamines like Adderall and Ritalin. Full-time college students are twice as likely to abuse Adderall than their peers who aren’t in college.

While students commonly rationalize their drug use as a method of increasing academic performance, that’s not the only way they’re used on college campuses. Adderall and Ritalin are also used as party drugs, by athletes looking to get an edge and even by people suffering from eating disorders who use it as an appetite-suppressant.

Adderall and Ritalin Short and Long-term Side Effects

For people who have ADHD and take Adderall and Ritalin as prescribed by a doctor, the drugs can be very safe and effective.

But that’s not the way most college kids take them. They might take too much, take them at the wrong time or even chew, snort or inject them. Consuming them with alcohol or other drugs is especially dangerous as it can lead to alcohol poisoning, heart problems and aggressive behavior.

Ritalin and Adderall can cause anxiety, paranoia, psychosis and depression. They can also lead to an increased heart rate, cause heart palpitations, elevated blood pressure and, in rare cases, even stroke, heart attack or sudden death.

People who have ADHD don’t take these drugs on an “as needed” basis the way that recreational users do. People who have ADHD take their medication consistently and depend on it to function. Over time and with enough use, a recreational user may come to depend on the drugs as well—in an unhealthy way.

What happens when a frequent recreational user decides to tackle a big paper or exam without Adderall or Ritalin? They may find they have completely destroyed their natural ability to focus and that they are now dependent on drugs to do so. In other words, they are physically addicted.

Treatment for Adderall and Ritalin Addiction

The fact is, many young adults are ignorant about how addictive—and dangerous—these “study drugs” can be. They take them to focus better and, with repeated use, eventually find they can’t focus at all unless they take them. Depression, anxiety and even thoughts of suicide can follow.

The Raleigh House is a residential treatment center located in Denver with expertise in treating this type of addiction. Your college-aged son or daughter never intended for this to happen—and now it’s time for them to get the help they need to get better. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our Adderall and Ritalin addiction treatment program.

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