College Students & Adderall Addiction

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Across college campuses across the country, you will find students spending large parts of their day in the library cramming for exams or in a computer lab writing term papers. The college environment has become increasingly competitive and the workload students are given on a daily basis seems endless. In order to stay on top of their studies and on track, many students may be tempted to turn to a quick fix in order to meet increasing academic demands. An increasing number of college students are turning to drugs such as Adderall in order to buckle down on their studies.

What is Adderall?


Adderall is a prescription drug that contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, both of which are powerful central nervous stimulants. Once known as the drug Obetrol which was created in the 1960’s to help with weight loss, the drug was reformulated and approved by the FDA as Adderall in mid-1990’s. The drug is primarily prescribed by doctors and physicians to treat narcolepsy and most commonly children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Statistics on Adderall Use Among College Students

Adderall is a drug that is widely available on college campuses and its use is widespread. According to a study published in the Journal of American College Health in 2012, two out of every three college students have been offered Adderall by their senior year with 31% using the drug on a regular basis. Full-time students are twice as likely to abuse Adderall and develop Adderall addiction in comparison to their peers who aren’t in college. Of all college students who abuse Adderall, nearly 90% of those college students abusing Adderall are also engaging in binge drinking and over half were regular heavy drinkers.

Adderall is a Schedule II drug, which means the drug has a high potential for severe physical and psychological dependence if misused and are only available by prescription. Despite these facts, a 2012 study published in the Journal of American College Health reports that 74 percent of college students who use the drug on a regular basis are able to obtain the drug from friends with a prescription. The use of Adderall on college campuses has become so widespread and accepted that students will often use social media to mention they are using the drug. In a study conducted at Brigham Young University, researchers observed over 200,000 Adderall-related tweets from college students over a six month period with their peak during finals week.

Why College Students Turn To Adderall


  1. Improves focus and concentration. The most common reason is that it helps improve focus and concentration during intense periods of study. The combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine increases attention and decreases overactivity in the brain, which can include outside distractions, instability of emotions and those factors which lead to disruptions in concentration. Because of its intense stimulant properties, students are able to stay awake and focus longer and therefore are able to study for longer periods.
  2. It is Easy to Obtain. As stated earlier, many college students who use Adderall regularly often get the drug from friends who have prescriptions. However, many students are able to obtain prescriptions for Adderall even if they haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD or another disorder which warrants the use of the drug. The tests that are administered to determine ADHD are self-reported checklists and can be easily faked with a little preparation and study. In a 2010 study conducted at the University of Kentucky and reported in the journal Psychological Assessment, it was discovered that students could successfully obtain a false positive diagnosis by simply using Google to research ADHD symptoms.
  3. The Use of Adderall Diminishes the Side Effects of Drinking. The use of alcohol and Adderall on college campuses is common due to the fact that the depressive side effects that come with drinking alcohol are reduced when Adderall is taken. Due to this decrease in effect, students are under the assumption they can consume more alcohol. Additionally, many students who use Adderall may consume alcohol in order to dull the stimulant effects of the drug.

Signs of Adderall Addiction


People can experience the side effects associated with Adderall, even if it is being used as prescribed by their doctor.  When Adderall is abused, the signs and symptoms include the following:

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Uncontrollable shaking or seizures

There are also side effects that can be experienced when can be more severe and even life-threatening. These more serious signs include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Chest pain
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Manic episodes

Since alcohol abuse and Adderall use are commonplace on college campuses, it is important to explain the effects of mixing these two substances. Since Adderall can dull the symptoms of being drunk, college students are often not aware of the amount of alcohol they have consumed and that can lead to alcohol poisoning. When used together, Adderall and alcohol can raise body temperature, increase heart rate and cause irregular heartbeat or cardiovascular issues.

Finding Treatment for Adderall Addiction

For those who have an addiction to Adderall, it is important for them to seek drug treatment as soon as possible. Since chronic users of the drug can build up tolerance, excessive amounts of the drug can lead to overdose. If treatment is sought for Adderall addiction it is important to first undergo medical detoxification. The withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and can include excessive fatigue, depression, changes in heart rhythm and an increased craving for the drug.

Depending on the amount of the drug that has been taken and the time period in which it was abused, it can take several weeks to get through the detox process. It is also important to note that the detox process for Adderall involves tapering, or slowly decreasing the dosage of the drug. After the patient has stabilized they can move to intensive inpatient treatment.

Since the craving for the drug can remain strong after the detox process, it is recommended those going through treatment find rehab centers that feature behavioral therapy. This type of therapy is used in order for users to deal with their cravings and will also help them to uncover the reasons behind their behavior. Additionally, behavior therapies help users understand the triggers that make them wish to continue using the drug.

Turn to PBI for Adderall Treatment

Unfortunately, it seems as though college and Adderall addiction go hand in hand. If your college-age son or daughter is experiencing Adderall addiction, you can turn to PBI for drug treatment that features high-quality counseling and therapy tailored to your child’s special needs. Utilizing a multi-disciplinary approach, the highly experienced treatment staff at the Palm Beach Institute is able to offer detoxification, individual and family treatment as well as aftercare programs in a gentle and healing atmosphere. Don’t wait another moment; help your college-age child break the cycle of Adderall addiction and contact PBI today.



Staff Writer

The Palm Beach Institute employs a diverse staff of writers that share a common passion for helping those who are struggling with substance abuse find the care they need. With years of experience in the substance abuse treatment industry and decades of experience in writing and research, our team of writers constantly strive to present accurate and helpful information that is easily digestible and encourages people to seek help.

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