Adderall: A Performance-Enhancing Drug? Facts for Parents

Think performance-enhancing drugs are just a problem for the likes of cycling giants or baseball superstars? Not so fast. The Electronic Sports League (ESL), which oversees competitive video gaming, recently announced that players would be banned from using medications like Adderall unless they had a doctor’s note. Additionally, ESL said it would begin testing its professional video game players for Adderall and other drugs. Adderall, which is a stimulant prescribed to treat the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has reportedly been used non-medically by some pro gamers who believe the substance will boost their ability to focus during tournaments.  

Adderall abuse is a problem among students too.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), full-time college students were more than twice as likely as non-full-time students to have used Adderall for non-medical reasons. Some high school students abuse ADHD medications as well, according to a report in The New York Times. Students abuse the drugs to help them stay awake longer when they’re studying for tests. Part of the challenge with these drugs is that teens and young adults may wrongly believe there’s nothing wrong with using them, particularly since they can be taken as a legitimate medication. Another challenge for parents is that Adderall and similar prescription stimulants can be obtained easily. For example, some teens may steal from a sibling’s needed prescription, while others might buy the drug from a friend or classmate with a prescription.  

Dangers of Adderall Abuse

Stimulant abuse can lead to dangerous effects, including addiction, irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperature, intense anger and paranoia, and increased risk for seizures and strokes. The potential danger goes beyond the dangers of abusing the medication itself. The NSDUH survey found that students who abused ADHD drugs were 8 times more likely to have abused cocaine and 5 times more likely to have abused prescription pain drugs. Almost 90% of the Adderall-abusing students had also binged on alcohol in the previous month.  

Signs of Adderall Abuse in Students

  • Restlessness or nervousness;
  • Rapid heartbeat;
  • Difficulty sleeping;
  • Nausea;
  • Dry mouth;
  • Headaches;
  • Paranoia or anger;
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight loss.

If you suspect a high school or college student is abusing ADHD medications, like Adderall, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 for confidential guidance. We also offer a range of Parent/Caregiver Resources, including the e-book What to Do if Your Child is Drinking or Using Drugs and the Keeping Watch Over Your Child Fact Sheet.     Photo courtesy of timlewisnm/Flickr.