NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Addiction experts are warning millennials about the dangers of Adderall.
The amphetamine is often prescribed to help children and young adults with attention-deficit disorder, or ADD, focus better.
Over years of use, the prescription stimulant can become addictive.
The CDC reported in 2011 that 11 percent of school age children were prescribed a medication to treat ADD or ADHD.
According to a survey by Partnership for Drug Free Kids, one in five teens believe it’s ok to abuse prescription drugs as long as they weren’t doing it to get high.
The survey also said one in five college students admitted to abusing prescription stimulants at least once in their lifetime.
And now, as millennials enter the workforce, addiction experts are seeing an increase in them using Adderall to work.
John Mabry first started using Adderall to focus and counteract the effects of alcoholism and an addiction to pain medication that started after a devastating car wreck led to the loss of his leg in 2000.
“I needed it to focus, and, before I knew, it I was addicted to it,” Mabry told News 2. “It took me several years to admit I had a problem and to ask for help.”
Doctors said when used by a person diagnosed with ADHD or ADD, Adderall can be very effective in helping them focus, but when used by someone without those diagnoses, it acts like a stimulant and can be addictive.
“We are seeing more people who come in and request ADD or ADHD medication,” Dr. Mary Romano, assistant professor of Pediatrics in the Department of Adolescent and Young Adult Health said. “We do not want to prescribe just the drug by itself. There also should be a mental health treatment plan.”
Dr. Romano said younger children are usually started on the medication when first diagnosed, but older teens and young adults may not have ADD or ADHD.
“Sometimes it can be depression or lack of sleep that can cause someone to have trouble focusing,” she said. “The medicine alters the way a person’s brain works, so it is not good for people who do not have a legitimate need for the medicine.”
She continued, “It’s like any other drug. It should only be used by the person it is prescribed to.”
Mabry pointed out that when he used Adderall it was with a prescription from a doctor. But, he was compensating for the side effects of alcohol and drug abuse.
“There were days I could not concentrate because I was hung over or had been up late the night before,” he said. “It catches you by surprise and it is not always people living under a bridge who are having addiction issue.”
He continued, “I have got the all-American look and a lot going for me, but I am like everyone else that struggles with addiction.”
Mabry, a Strategic Partnerships Manager for Addiction Campuses, based in Brentwood, has been clean and sober for five years.
“My wife got to the point where she said we have to talk about this,” Mabry said. “She started a Facebook group as well and we are able to hear from people who are facing what we faced as a family.”
Addiction Campuses provides illegal drug, prescription drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs in facilities across the country, according to the organization’s website.
Addiction Campuses also runs a 24-hour 7 day a week hotline at 1-888-614-2251.