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Updated September 1, 2017
 
 

Study Drugs: Are they Worth the Risks?

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Drugs Risk Picture
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f you are a college student that found this article, I don't need to tell you about the prevalence of study drugs on campuses. According to one study carried out in the U.S., more than 60% of college students today know someone who takes or has self-medicated with pharmaceutical stimulants for studying purposes. As more and more students begin to hear about psychostimulants, it's imperative to separate the myths from the facts.

Prescription Drug Abuse is not the Norm

Although statistics about ADHD drug misuse is staggering, you must realize that it is not the norm. A vast majority of people don't abuse pharmaceutical stimulants. Although the number of students who are taking Adderall without a prescription is growing, that does not mean the abuse is not a major public safety and health concern. Many are tempted by the easy access and desire to succeed. Ultimately, this desire leads to a lapse in better judgment, resulting in the misuse of prescription drugs.

Is this one of those Articles that talks about Ethics?

No. This article is not here to weigh the ethics of using supplementation to improve performance. We actually very much encourage the use of supplementation to improve one-self. The question we delve into in this article only concerns the risks, both to your health and in the legal world.

We will give you the facts in this article about the benefits and risks of taking Adderall drugs without having ADHD:

Benefits of Psychostimulants

The common perception among college students is that those who use prescription stimulants non-medically (without ADHD) perform better academically. This cannot be further from the truth. Study after study conducted has found no evidence that the illicit drug use by individuals who do not have ADHD do better on tests. Another study also showed that on non-academic testing (memory, retention, creativity), users also did not better when they were taking psychostimulants. Further studies posted by the National Institute of Health actually show that high-performing individuals (meaning students who do not have ADHD) actually perform worse academically when using ADHD drugs. Researchers do agree that individuals believe they are doing better though.

Even though college students who are taking stimulants without ADHD are performing at the same level or worse, they feel as though they are improved because of the way these stimulants work on already high-functioning individuals. You may be surprised to learn that stimulants affect those with ADHD and those without ADHD completely different.

Even further studies that have delved into whether non-ADHD individuals see any improvement in cognitive performance or competitive edge have also irrefutably failed. Researchers agree that it is unlikely these drugs can improve academic performance in non-ADHD individuals. Okay, so we understand modern scientific and medical research tells us that non-ADHD students who take ADHD drugs do not do better at school. Are there any benefits? Image courtesy of Flickr: hipsxxhearts.

Sure, ADHD drugs contain amphetamines. When a person takes amphetamines, they generally have feelings of euphoria, excitement, and a sense of well-being in the short-term. They also generally see an increase in their confidence and motivation in the short-term. Furthermore, they also gain a sense of power and superiority over others (again, in the short-term). Other effects include increased talkativeness while the drug is active in the individual's body. Please keep in mind that these effects are also seen when you take Speed or Cocaine. The effects are also only observed when one is under the influence. Immediately after the drug wears off, these effects are completely reversed to the polar opposites. Individuals usually retreat into themselves (less talkative), feel depressed, restless, anxious, exhaustion, mood swings, lethargy, and more.

The Health Risks of taking ADHD Drugs without ADHD (self-prescribing)

There are a large number of immediete-term, short-term, and long-term health risks. There is no safe level of amphetamine use.

Please note that the chemical change in the brain and body can be irreversible from the very first usage.

The immediete-term side effects can be as mild as headaches, dry mouth, and difficulty sleeping. Immediete-term side effects can also be severe, from cardiovascular problems, to interrupted heart rhythm, to increased blood pressure.

Death is possible in the short-term and long-term. Especially because individuals who take ADHD drugs without talking to their doctor first may not know that they fall under one of the contraindications. Furthermore, self-prescribing of Adderall over a larger duration of time is able to raise the risk of critical cardiovascular complications and strokes. Additionally there are considerable mental health issues connected with the long-term use of Adderall, including paranoia and depression.

The complete list of short-term effects on brain health and general well-being are too numerous to list in this article.

I would however like to touch base on ADHD drug dependence. Dependence on Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin, and other psychostimulants is not uncommon. When a person takes these drugs as part of a routine, using the drug becomes a psychological and physical habit. Persons going through such a dependance can show stress, sweat, and hostility if denied access to the drug. Physical dependence occurs when the individual becomes accustomed to the chemical release of dopamine due to the stimulant. As such, stopping the use of the stimulant causes dopamine levels to plummet, triggering symptoms such as depression, exhaustion, and dramatic changes in sleep.

Legal Risks with the Illegal Buying, Selling, and Possession of ADHD Drugs

ADHD stimulants are categorized by the FDA under Schedule II drugs. This means that being caught illegally buying, selling, or in possession of ADHD drugs, is the same as if you were caught in a similar manner with cocaine or speed.
Across the United States, you can expect charges to be similar to:

  • Possession of less than 1 gram of Adderall – state jail felony, range of 180 days to 2 years in a state jail.
  • Possession of 1 to 4 grams of Adderall – third degree felony, range of 2 to 10 years in state Prison
  • Possession of 4 to 400 grams of Adderall – second degree felony, range of 2 to 20 years in the state Prison
  • Possession of more than 400 grams of Adderall – first degree felony, range of 10 to 99 years or life in addition to a fine of up to $100,000.

Being convicted on drug charges will result in disastrous consequences that will follow you for the rest of your life. A convicted felon is even rejected from jobs at McDonald's. The risks are very high, even for people who have a clean record.

Final Thoughts: Are ADHD Drugs worth the Health and Legal Risks?

In the above table, we've thoroughly examined the benefits and risks of taking Adderall and/or other pharmaceutical stimulants for people without ADHD. We discovered that research shows that high-performing (high performing meaning non-ADHD) individuals do not see any cognitive improvement or perform better on tests. In fact, some studies show the opposite occurring; non-ADHD students take Adderall and perform worse.

Self-medicating with psychostimulants is NOT smart for your short-term and long-term well-being ...

We've also gone over the the immense health and well-being risks associated with even very small amounts of Adderall. There is no safe level of amphetamine usage.

Finally, the legal risks are very high. First time offenders caught possessing, selling, or buying ADHD drugs face time in jail, becoming a felon, and large fines. Even making a deals with the prosecution for reduced or no time in jail requires pleading "guilty," which will have a massive negative impact for the rest of your life. Felons are systematically rejected from jobs as simple as working for McDonald's.

Tens of thousands of individuals are sent to the ER, even when having taken Adderall and/or other psychostimulants with the best of intentions. The number has increased 400% over just the last few years.

Read More Details About This Article

We want to thank Flickr: hipsxxhearts for allowing usage of the Adderall image found in this article through CC license (no changes were made to the image). We hope this article helps you reach your intended goals. Please be aware that there are people that may legitimately need a lifelong dose of stimulants in order to just feel normal, and it is not our intention to turn those people away from something that might help them.

Clinical Studies, Research, and/or Peer-Reviewed Journal Links:
1. http://medicineabuseproject.org/assets/documents/NPSFactSheet.pdf
2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2515906/
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3749314/
4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664392/
5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2690554/
6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2547091/
7. http://morrisonearleslaw.com/possession-of-adderall-and-distribution-of-adderall/
8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3277944/

This article is still being expanded. We urge you to ask questions you have in the comment section below. We will continue to update this article as new research arises.
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The Brainification Team

 
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A leading group of content writers and editors that have an understanding of health and science, with a particular interest in brain health and neuroscience.