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.