Among 18 to 25-year-olds, Adderall abuse is on the rise — according to data generated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The non-medical use of Adderall among full-time students rose from 6.3 percent in 2006 to 8.3 percent in 2011, SAMHSA’s Chief of the Population Surveys branch Joe Gfroerer said.
He said the organization conducts a survey every year with 22,000 subjects in the 18- to 22-year-old age range, focusing on the use of substances from tobacco and alcohol to non-medical use of prescription drugs.
The data only goes back to 2006 because he said Adderall was only added to the list of non-medical drugs they asked about at that time. However, this data shows some significant trends, he said.
Gfroerer said the rates of non-medical Adderall use from 2006 to 2011 for 18 to 22 year olds have been consistently higher among college students than those who are not in college — and the rates for both groups have been rising.
The rate for other persons — not full-time students — in the age range rose from 3 percent to 4.2 percent, he said.
Penn State’s Counseling and Psychological Services staff psychologist Andrea Falzone said she doesn’t see a lot of students coming in with Adderall abuse as their primary issue.
“We do have students who report that they use [Adderall] who don’t have it prescribed,” she said. “I don’t hear about it being reported more than marijuana. I don’t see it as epidemic.”
Falzone said the first time that a student comes in for an appointment at CAPS, he or she is asked to fill out a form where he or she is asked to answer questions about his or her use of various substances. One of the questions is whether the student uses drugs for which he or she does not have prescriptions, she said.
“We see a number of students who are taking Adderall as prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder to manage a real disorder,” Falzone said.
But the screenings from the first appointment also shows that there are students who report that they use it without a prescription, she said.
Additionally, CAPS psychiatrist Victoria Stout said though she is not aware of any studies or records of Adderall abuse, she asks patients to whom she prescribes Adderall to sign an agreement that they will not distribute it.
“If someone shares their Adderall with someone else, that is distributing controlled substances, and that is a felony,” she said. “I do think students should take this seriously.”
Because ADHD is a long-standing problem with symptoms showing when someone is 7 years old, Stout said she is usually able to catch people who are trying to receive prescriptions of Adderall for non-medical use.
However, Stout said she couldn’t say whether she’s positive that none of her patients have abused their prescriptions.
Stout advised students who need help to go to the CAPS website (http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling/pdf/EvaluationandTreatmentforADHDHandout.pdf) to find out if they may have ADHD and how to seek help.