Adderall misuse on the rise among students, doctors warn

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Up to a third of college-age young people may be misusing amphetamine-based stimulants like Adderall, according to medical experts.

It’s commonly prescribed and commonly passed around at colleges and even high schools across the country. It’s also the drug accused Utah kingpin Aaron Shamo allegedly got his start selling.

“I had been told that Adderall helps you study and focus,” said one woman, who chose to remain anonymous but who claimed she took Adderall with a prescription during college. “It was like an instant high..it’s like you can do anything in the world…you are invincible.”

She told ABC4 the majority of people she knew in college also used Adderall, which is an amphetamine-based, not Ritalin-based, stimulant prescribed for ADHD.

Dr. Travis Mickelson with Intermountain Healthcare said it’s possible up to a third of college students are misusing the drug for academic performance enhancement.

“Even kids sell it, and it’s common knowledge,” the woman told ABC4 News. She said she stopped taking it when she began to experience a severe crash that followed an intense euphoric feeling while taking the drug. She said it helped her concentrate in school, but a feeling of paranoia set in.

Mickelson said amphetamine-based stimulants such as Adderall can, in fact, cause psychotic symptoms, especially in young people.

“Seeing or hearing or believing things that aren’t true. It could have a paranoid nature, where you think people are out to hurt you or out to get you…it could have a grandiose nature where you could have some sort of special powers or special abilities.”

In other cases, cardiovascular issues can occur, including heart palpitations and high blood pressure, Mickelson said. Doctors remind everyone that it’s illegal to use stimulants without a prescription.

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