The misuse of Adderall and similar medications used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is the dirty little secret on college campuses that everyone knows about. The number of students using these so-called “study drugs” far exceeds the number of students who are prescribed ADHD medication; however, such widespread misuse of prescriptions drugs is often swept under the rug. But college campuses aren’t the only hotbeds for the illegal use of stimulant medication. Adderall abuse is also a prevalent issue in the American workplace.

Children Prescribed ADHD Medication More Often Than Adults

An article published by The New York Times highlights the rampant abuse of ADHD medications, including Adderall, Ritalin, and Vyvanse, among working professionals who tend to ignore the potential damage they are inflicting on their health. People with a heavy work load using Adderall to focus is not breaking news, but as this trend continues we have to wonder where so many adults are getting their hands on prescription drugs. While college students with a prescription for ADHD medication regularly corner the market for study drugs on campuses, adults are seldom prescribed these types of medication.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD is one of the common childhood neurological disorders with an average age of onset at around 7. Around 11 percent of Americans between the ages of 4 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. Although ADHD can persist into adulthood, stimulant medication is typically the recommended treatment option for children. Similar to college campuses, the number of adult working professionals using ADHD drugs to aid their performance far exceeds the number of adults prescribed the medication.

ADHD Prescriptions Among Adults On The Rise

A 2014 report published by Express Scripts revealed that the number of young adults prescribed ADHD medication has increased by 36 percent in the past five years. Children are still prescribed ADHD drugs more than adults, but the number of adults receiving these prescriptions has skyrocketed by more than 53 percent recently. Surprisingly, it seems adult women are at the source of this staggering increase. The number of women between the ages of 19 and 25 who were prescribed ADHD medication increased by 4.4 percent compared to 3.5 percent among younger women under the age of 18.

Students sharing their ADHD medication for study purposes is par for the course when we consider some of the other problems facing college campuses, but learning that medication sharing is also an epidemic in most American offices is disconcerting, especially when considering the potential side effects associated with taking high doses of prescriptions stimulants. Common health effects tied to the misuse of ADHD medication include high blood pressure, increased heart rate, higher than normal body temperature, and serious cardiovascular complications, such as stroke. Clearly, these problems can become more dangerous as the patient gets older.