Welcome to CampusHealthandSafety.org

Go To Effective PreventionGo To AlcoholGo To Other DrugsGo To ViolenceGo To Mental HealthGo To Audiences
In this Section
Printer-friendly page Email to a friend

Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine

Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine, are prescription drugs prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When used as prescribed, each has a calming and focusing effect on those with ADHD, and has little potential for addiction. When misused by people without ADHD, these drugs have a stimulant effect, resulting in suppressed appetite, increased concentration, wakefulness, and euphoria – effects similar to the illicit amphetamine speed. Due to these effects, students abuse Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine to stay awake and alert while studying or partying. Abusers of the drug crush the tablets and snort, inject, or take them orally.

According to a January 2005 study in the journal Addiction, up to 25 percent of students at some colleges report non-prescribed use of these stimulants. Because Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine are frequently prescribed to young adults to treat ADHD, the drugs are easy for students to obtain or buy from friends on campus.  Students may also “act out” the symptoms of ADHD in hopes of getting a prescription from a campus physician.  Other students get the drugs through rogue online pharmacies, many of which don’t require prescriptions for the drugs. These students may sell the drugs to others on campus while keeping some for their own use.

Since prescription stimulants are prescribed by doctors and created in well-regulated laboratories, they don’t have the stigma associated with street drugs.  This leads many students to falsely believe Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine are harmless, whether used recreationally for partying or for brief periods of intense studying, such as during finals week. However, there are many dangerous side effects of stimulant abuse. Improper, non-medical use of these drugs may result in convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, headaches, malnutrition due to decreased appetite, and irregular heartbeat and breathing, which may be life-threatening. Mixing the drugs with alcohol or other drugs, especially decongestants, exacerbates these dangerous side effects.  Those who inject the drugs risk infection, HIV, hepatitis, and blood vessel blockages. Moreover, injecting the drug may deliver a toxic overdose to users. Those who abuse prescription stimulants regularly may become addicted or develop a tolerance to the drug.

It’s important to note that abuse prevention efforts for Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine should differ from those of illicit drugs.  Many students have legitimate, medical reasons for needing these medications so the drugs cannot be stigmatized. Campuses can take steps to prevent prescription stimulant abuse among students by limiting access.  Student health centers should be selective in prescribing the drugs to students, requiring a medical history indicative of an ADHD diagnosis from the student’s regular doctor.  They should be especially suspicious of students who suddenly manifest the symptoms of ADHD, frequently lose their pills and require replacements, or ask for specific drugs by name.  Campuses can also block advertising from and access to online pharmacies.Methylphenidate (Ritalin) is a prescription drug commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). When used properly, Ritalin has a calming and focusing effect on those with ADHD, and has little potential for addiction. When misused by people without ADHD, Ritalin has a stimulant effect, resulting in suppressed appetite, increased concentration, wakefulness, and euphoria. Due to these effects, students abuse Ritalin to stay awake and alert while studying or partying. Abusers of the drug crush the tablets and snort, inject, or take them orally.

Although there is no national data to track Ritalin abuse on college and university campuses, regional studies suggest its use is widespread. Because Ritalin is frequently prescribed to young adults to treat ADHD, it is easy for students to obtain or buy from friends on campus. Since Ritalin doesn’t have the stigma associated with street drugs, many students falsely believe Ritalin use is harmless, whether used recreationally or for brief periods of intense studying, such as during finals week. However, there are many dangerous side effects of Ritalin abuse. Improper, non-medical use of Ritalin may result in convulsions, anxiety, paranoia, headaches, malnutrition due to decreased appetite, and irregular heartbeat and breathing, which may be life-threatening. Those who inject the drug risk infection, HIV, hepatitis, and blood vessel blockages. Moreover, injecting the drug may deliver a toxic overdose to users. Those who abuse Ritalin regularly may become addicted or develop a tolerance to the drug.


Go to the Center for College Health and Safety website Go to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
CampusHealthandSafety.org
is a website of the Center for College Health and Safety
part of the Health and Human Development Programs division of EDC.

Go to Education Development Center, Inc.
1994-2005 Education Development Center, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Please contact Webmaster for any questions or concerns.