You know a prescription drug is widely abused when it becomes the main character in recent movies! “A is for Adderall” is a documentary in production about the off-prescription use of that popular ADHD (attention deficient hyperactivity disorder) medication. The producers filmed the teaser at the University of Wisconsin Madison (”It’s so available; it’s everywhere,” says one student). And it’s the star of the 2015 James Franco film, “The Adderall Diaries,” about a burned-out, drugged-up writer.
Adderall, or dextroamphetamine-amphetamine, often is used to help those with ADHD become calmer and more focused, as is methylphenidate (brand names -- Ritalin, Daytrana and Concerta). But from 2006 to 2011, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins, nonmedical use of these meds among adults (especially ages 18-25) went up by 67 percent and emergency-room-related visits increased almost 156 percent.
What’s the allure? They make it easier to study all night, plus they boost feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. But abusers risk irritability, trouble sleeping, dangerous cardiac issues and ultimately a DECREASE in the ability to concentrate. These meds also mask the effects of alcohol, making it all-too-easy to suffer alcohol poisoning.
Unfortunately, young adults seem unaware of the risks or the tough time they’re going to have getting off the drugs. We agree with experts who are calling for the same aggressive oversight of these prescription meds that’s proposed for opioids/pain relievers. And anyone using them without a prescription needs to reach out to abuse-treatment experts for help getting off them; it’s hard to do it by yourself.
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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.