Study drugs or “smart drugs” are exceedingly popular among people in school. Doctors prescribe medications like Adderall and Ritalin to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); however, people without ADHD engage in nonmedical use of prescription stimulants to boost their academic performance. The practice of nonmedical Adderall use, for example, is known as pharmacological cognitive enhancement (PCE). When people take stimulants, they hope to increase their powers of memory or concentration. While using drugs to gin up cognitive performance may help in some cases, the behavior can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.
Attempting to get a cognitive edge in school is understandable considering the daunting academic requirements placed upon young people today. The competition for placement in institutions of higher learning is fierce; it is fair to say that teens and young adults have to go above and beyond in ways unheard of just a couple decades ago. It isn’t enough anymore to just go to class and get straight A’s; one must also involve him or herself in myriad extracurricular activities and volunteer vast sums of their time. Even still, doing all the right things doesn’t guarantee placement.
It is quite easy for young people to get their hands on prescription stimulants without the help of a doctor. Classmates are all too willing to share with or sell their drugs to other students; evinced by the fact that the number of Americans reporting nonmedical stimulant use is on the rise.
Adderall and PCE in America and Beyond
Research published in the International Journal of Drug Policy looks into the results of the Global Drug Survey—an annual, anonymous online questionnaire about drug use worldwide. Zeroing in on the use of prescription stimulants, researchers found that 14% reported using stimulants at least once in 2017, up from 5% in 2015. In the United States, nearly 30% of American respondents admitted using drugs for PCE in 2017, up from 20% in 2015. The U.S. has the highest rates of nonmedical stimulant use; however, the practice has become more common in Europe of late.
US-style practices in ADHD treatment are occurring in Europe, The Scientific American reports. Stimulants are more available than ever which has led to a dramatic rise in people seeking pharmacological cognitive enhancement. In fact, the survey indicates that use in France rose from 3% in 2015 to 16% in 2017; and in the UK: from 5% to 23%.
“The increased diagnoses of ADHD and their prescription drug use is creating a substantial population of young pharmacologically medicated persons whose underlying problems may very likely be located in their social world,” says Steven Rose, a neuroscientist at the Open University in Milton Keynes, UK.
Stimulant Use Disorder
Given that there is not much evidence to support PCE via prescription stimulant, people using such drugs should strongly reconsider. Misusing amphetamines can severely complicate one’s life and lead to a host of problems. Each year, we treat a significant number of people at Synergy Group Services presenting for stimulant use disorder. If your use of Adderall or Ritalin has made your life unmanageable, Synergy can help you break the cycle of addiction and begin a journey of recovery. Please contact us today.
Opioid use disorder should be great cause for concern among Americans. Current data shows that as many as 142 Americans die of an opioid-related overdose every day. However, America’s greatest foe has long come in the form of a liquid—alcohol. New research shows that drinking and alcohol use disorder rates in the United States are troubling and need to be addressed.
With the country fixated on opioids, it is hard to devote much energy to any other substance use related issue. But, while lawmakers and health experts fixate on prescription opioids and heroin, alcohol has continued stealing lives in relative darkness. Therefore, it is so important to remember that people misuse alcohol more than any other substance. It is not just the fact that millions of people drink regularly. It is that millions of Americans drink regularly in seriously harmful ways, such as binge drinking.
Great efforts and amounts of money have been spent to educate young people about the dangers of heavy imbibing. Accompanied by a long list of health conditions that can arise from high rates of consumption, including addiction. Left unchecked, people who binge drink regularly are at a far greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder. Binge drinking is often defined as having four drinks for women and 5 for men, during a two-hour period.
21st Century Alcohol Use
As many as 30 million Americans binge drink at least once a week, a study published in JAMA Psychiatry reveals. Just for perspective, that’s more than the population of each state, but for California, SF GATE reports. About the same number of people report being dependent on the substance or abusing alcohol.
Opioid statistics show that somewhere between 2 and 3 million Americans have an opioid use disorder. That number is likely a low ball. But whatever the actual number is it’s still a far cry from alcohol use disorder rates in America. The study showed that adult alcohol use rose in every demographic, especially among:
- Older People
- People With Lower Incomes
- And Those With Less Education
“This should be a big wake-up call,” says David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who wasn’t involved with the research. “Alcohol is our number one drug problem, and it’s not just a problem among kids.”
In 2001-02, 8.5 percent of survey respondents reported alcohol abuse or dependence, according to the article. That figure rose to around 12.7 percent in 2012-13, a 10.5 million person increase. With such high numbers, greater focus needs to be placed on the impact this will have on society. The cost of life is staggering.
Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment
Roughly one-fifth of people with an alcohol use disorder have ever been treated, according to Bridget Grant, a researcher at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and lead author of the paper. Even though alcoholism is a mental illness, too, about 60 percent of people with depression get some kind of treatment. Without treatment, the outcome is never good.
If you or a loved one has an alcohol use disorder, please contact Synergy Group Services for help. We can assist in breaking the cycle of addiction and impart the skills necessary for living a life in recovery.