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Are Prescription Stimulants for ADHD Safe to Use?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), prescription drug misuse can have serious medical consequences. Increases in prescription drug misuse over the last 15 years are reflected in increased emergency room visits, overdose deaths associated with prescription drugs, and treatment admissions for prescription drug use disorders, the most severe form of which is an addiction. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids were five times higher in 2016 than in 1999. There have been many cases where prescribed drugs have been misused, causing addiction and dependence. Some of the most common groups of abused drugs are:

  • Opioids—usually prescribed to treat pain
  • Central nervous system depressants (this category includes tranquilizers, sedatives, and hypnotics)—used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders
  • Stimulants—most often prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

One of the common misconceptions about drugs prescribed for ADHD is that they can be dangerous as well as addictive. It may be time for you to get your ADHD under control, or perhaps you are thinking it’s a solution for your child who has been diagnosed with ADHD? Are prescription stimulants for ADHD safe to use?

Can You Safely Use ADHD Stimulants As Prescribed?

Stimulant drugs are the treatment most often used for ADHD. They can help you manage symptoms, such as:

  • Short attention span
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Hyperactivity

They may be the only treatment you use, or you can try them along with behavioral therapy. ADHD treatment is often multi-layered and involves prescription medication, a group of psychostimulants such as Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, Concerta. Unfortunately, all of these drugs have the potential for developing tolerance, dependence, or full-blown addiction. Many students use these drugs for cramming and studying and do not exhibit symptoms of ADHD, leading to this group being the most prone to abuse and misuse of these drugs.

Prescription Stimulants for ADHD Treatment

These drugs are said to ease ADHD symptoms in about 70% of adults and 70% to 80% of children. They tend to cut down on hyperactivity, interrupting and fidgeting. They can also help a person finish tasks and improve relationships. As long as the medication is taken as prescribed under clinical supervision, people have a better attention span and better behavior. Even though there is some debate about whether social skills or performance at school gets better, there are many people who benefit from them.

Can ADHD Stimulants Be Abused?

As with many drugs, there come plenty of side effects with ADHD prescription stimulant medication. Most ADHD drugs are “stimulants.” They can raise your blood pressure and speed up your heart rate. If you already have an issue with your heart, these medicines could be risky. ADHD stimulants can be abused and often are, that is why they are scheduled narcotics in federal law and highly controlled. Examples of the most commonly prescribed ADHD stimulant medication include:

  • Amphetamine (Evekeo)
  • Dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Adderall XR, Dexedrine, ProCentra, Zenzedi)
  • Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin, Focalin XR)
  • Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)
  • Methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Methylin, Ritalin, Quillivant)

Work with your doctor when it comes to treating ADHD safely without falling into the dark hole of substance abuse. Together you can decide if ADHD medications are safe for you. Your doctor may want to run a few tests to see if you have conditions that might not mix well with ADHD drugs. For instance, they can check to see if you have high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, or other kinds of heart disease. Other conditions might bump up your risks from ADHD drugs. Tell your doctor if you have one of these:

  • Allergy or sensitivity to stimulants
  • Glaucoma
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • History of mental illness
  • Motor tics or Tourette’s syndrome
  • Overactive thyroid

Treatment for Prescription Stimulant Abuse

There is that chance of going dependent on the stimulants, which in turn becomes an addiction. At Evoke Wellness at Cohasset, we can get your life back. We rely on evidence-based treatment to help you through the recovery process. We provide different forms of therapy to help you gain long-lasting recovery. Each person that comes through our doors receives an individualized treatment plan as recovery is not a one size fits all approach. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you or a loved one struggles with prescription stimulant abuse or any other addiction.