Teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) rely on psychostimulants like Adderall properly balance their brain chemistry to concentrate on both mental and physical tasks. Adderall doesn’t make anyone smarter, but it does help people focus, and that attribute has caught hold with students wanting to take it to help make studying easier.
Psychostimulants release the neurotransmitter dopamine into the brain, resulting in relaxed and euphoric feelings. Adderall helps the brain focus on tasks as complex as writing a literature review or as simple as having a conversation with someone. It helps those with ADHD complete normal daily tasks that would not usually present challenges to others.
Some say that Adderall conditions them to focus their mind. They feel that after taking Adderall regularly for a while their mentality changes and they learn how to teach themselves how to stay focused.
According to Santa Monica College psychology professor David Shirinyan, Adderall’s effect on teens with ADHD is different than the effect on teens without ADHD.
Teens with ADHD take the drug in regular doses over a long period of time. It allows their body to adjust to the drug in the system and do what it is supposed to do. Teens who abuse Adderall tend to take higher doses with no regularity. Shirinyan says that teens who abuse the drug to study don’t need the chemical balance that Adderall provides, so they have side effects like jitteriness and too much energy.
In 2012, PubMed published a comprehensive literature review about Adderall abuse on college campuses, which noted that prescription stimulant abuse has sharply risen over the past decade. Teens and young adults are finding it easier to get prescription drugs through online websites, family and friends, as well as doctors who don’t check to see if they’re already getting the same prescription from another doctor.
Some students don’t see the harm in taking drugs prescribed by a doctor, but doctors carefully select the correct dosage of prescriptions for each patient. For those who are just popping pills during a study session, there’s no regulation. Abusing drugs can mess with body chemistry and will often cause more harm than help. Researchers warn teens and young adults about abusing Adderall and suggest that they just hit the books the old-fashioned way.