When doctors prescribe stimulants, they start with low doses and increase them gradually until they fully treat the condition for which they are prescribed. However, when taken in doses and routes other than those prescribed, stimulants can increase the dopamine in the brain very quickly, disrupting normal communication between brain cells.
TEENS HAVE REPORTED
They have had the opportunity to abuse prescription stimulants.
They have abused a stimulant in the past year.
That stimulant use is a growing problem among their peers.
WHAT ARE PRESCRIPTION STIMULANTS
Prescription stimulants are a type of medicine that doctors give people to help them with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) or serious sleep problems. You might have heard of stimulants like Adderall® and Ritalin®. They are usually given as pills.
EFFECTS OF STIMULANT ABUSE
5 MYTHS ABOUT ADHS PRESCRIPTIONS
Fact: While these drugs may help you focus, they don’t help you learn better, and they won’t improve your grades. Being “smart” is about improving your ability to master new skills, concepts, and ideas. Like a muscle, the brain gets stronger through exercise. Learning strengthens brain connections through repetition and practice to enhance cognition—“smartness”—over a lifetime. Shortcuts, like abusing prescription stimulants, do not “exercise” the brain. Research has shown that students who abuse prescription stimulants actually have lower GPAs in high school and college than those who don’t.
Fact: Unlike vitamins, these drugs contain ingredients that can change brain chemistry and may have serious side effects. Also, unlike vitamins, they require a doctor’s prescription. If you take these drugs more often than directed, in too high a dose, or in some way other than by mouth, you are abusing the drug, which can lead to addiction.
Fact: Prescription stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin are safe and effective when prescribed for people with ADHD and used properly. But the same drugs, when used by someone without ADHD, can be dangerous. Stimulants taken without a medical reason can disrupt brain communication. When used improperly or in excess, they can cause mood swings and loss of sleep, and can increase your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature.
Fact: Doctors prescribe medicine based on your weight, symptoms, and body chemistry. Doctors may adjust how much you take or change to a different medication to better treat symptoms or respond to side effects. When you take a stimulant prescribed for a friend or family member, you haven’t been looked at by a doctor. The possible side effects can make you sick. Side effects include elevated heart rate, dizziness, and fainting—or, even worse, heart attacks and stroke. Side effects may also include depression and exhaustion.
Fact: If you are diagnosed with ADHD, stimulants the doctor prescribes for you can help. But always be sure to take the medication exactly as directed—no more, no less. Also, be sure to tell your doctor everything that’s going on at home and at school. Combining prescription stimulants with other drugs or alcohol can be dangerous. And don’t help your friends or family members abuse prescription drugs by sharing your pills with them.
GETTING HELP FOR PRESCRIPTION
Stimulant addiction can feel overwhelming. The good news is that treatment helps addicts rediscover a healthy life. The physical withdrawal symptoms are minimal in most cases.The main focus of treatment is on the mental growth needed for the patient to avoid relapse in recovery.