The Pressure to Be Perfect: What Drives Teens to Adderall Abuse

Today’s adolescents are under a great amount of pressure. Family expectations, peer pressure, and high academic standards put upon them by society are enough to push anyone to their limits. During a life stage filled with physical, mental, and emotional changes, having these additional pressures to be a perfect student, child, and friend can be overwhelming. 

Substance abuse among teens continues to rise with mounting social and interpersonal pressures as a large contributor. Teen Adderall abuse in particular is a problem that should not be ignored. Understanding why and how teens are abusing Adderall can help families address the problem before it develops into lifelong addiction.

Why are Teens Abusing Adderall?

As with any form of substance abuse, teen Adderall abuse comes with a myriad of potential causes. Some common sources include:

Misuse of a Prescription

Teens who are prescribed Adderall for medical reasons may begin misusing it as a means of feeling in control. For those with ADHD or narcolepsy, Adderall can feel like a welcome reprieve from disruptive symptoms. This coupled with positive feedback from parents or other authority figures in their lives may create an association between Adderall use and praise. They may then misuse the drug and take it more frequently than prescribed to invoke more praise or maintain that sense of control. 

Peer Pressure

For teens who are not prescribed Adderall, first exposure may come from friends or family members. As a stimulant, Adderall can cause one to feel more energized, awake, and alert. It may also produce a high not unlike that experienced by cocaine users. Teens and young adults may be drawn in by the promise of these effects and either not realize or dismiss the potential dangers of prescription drug abuse. Because of the misconception that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, they may freely offer the pills to friends and associates to get high or even sell them for a profit. 

Pressure to Perform

Adderall abuse is especially prevalent among teens and young adults in school. The pressure to perform well academically or in an athletic capacity may cause them to seek help in the form of Adderall. Because one of the side effects of Adderall use is a heightened sense of alertness and energy, they may view its use as a means to study longer, get work done faster, or practice harder. As these pressures continue to mount or the effect loses its edge, they may be driven to use more of it or increase the frequency of use.

As with many forms of prescription drug abuse, teen Adderall abuse is often rooted in misinformation about its safety and a false sense of invulnerability. Teens may seek it out for the promised benefits without ever truly considering the risks. It also has the additional allure of being easy to access. Unlike street drugs like meth or cocaine, Adderall may easily be pilfered from medicine cabinets or received from peers who have a prescription. In some cases it may also be purchased online through transactions that may not draw any suspicion. 

Is Adderall Addictive?

Yes. Adderall is a schedule II controlled substance, meaning the FDA has identified it as potentially harmful if misused. Schedule II substances have a “high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.” This means that while they have significant medical benefit, they must be closely monitored to prevent the development of addiction or dependency. As the most commonly prescribed amphetamine medication, this stimulant releases dopamine and norepinephrine into the brain and central nervous system. High levels of these hormones create feelings of elevated alertness, euphoria and elation. If consistent Adderall abuse occurs, the mind and body may become dependent on the drug just to feel normal. This dependence can lead to changes to physical and mental condition as well as behavioral shifts.

The Signs and Effects of Teen Adderall Abuse

Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of Adderall abuse can make all the difference in getting your teen the help they need before it’s too late. Some signs to look out for include:

Changes in demeanor: newfound excitability, agitation, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, or depression

Behavioral changes: sneakiness, secrecy, and social withdrawal from family and friends

Unexplained illness: migraines, shakes and tremors, nausea, vomiting, cardiac distress

Left unaddressed, Adderall misuse can develop into an addiction. Despite the perceived safety of prescription drugs, this can lead to serious physical and mental health complications that may result in long term issues like psychosis, intense anger, and tremors. If you are concerned your teen may have a potential Adderall abuse problem, there are ways you can help. Safe Landing Recovery specializes in helping teens overcome substance abuse. Call us now at 855-993-6311.

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