Stimulants: Prescriptions for Young Adults


Nowadays, there is a growing trend for using medication for beneficial purposes in order to alleviate the symptoms of various conditions. For example, treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD) disorder with medications has proven to be immensely helpful (Edinoff et al. 3). However, between 1995 and 2008, stimulants that are usually used to treat attention-span issues grew six-fold among U.S. adults, still increasing each year (Edinoff et al. 3). In this sense, the abuse of stimulants, often known as non-medical usage of these drugs, has escalated. Young individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 have the greatest rates of non-medical prescription medication abuse in the U.S (Edinoff et al. 3). The most frequent justification for non-medical drug use is an academic improvement, which is claimed in 50% to 89% of university students who abuse stimulants (Edinoff et al. 3). Therefore, doctors’ prescriptions of stimulants, such as Adderall, is frequently misused, and while has short-term benefits of increased productivity and attention, imposes long-term damages on young adults’ health.

Motivation for Non-Medical Stimulant Use

The fact that therapies apart from pharmaceuticals may be more effective in treating learning issues frequently linked with an ADHD diagnosis might also be significant. Performance enhancement was listed as a motive for non-medical use by approximately 25% of the participants, while not being one of the most often cited reasons given by injectors (Butler et al. 9). The likelihood of having reasons to become intoxicated or to intensify the effects of other substances was considerably higher among those claiming snorting and injection than among those admitting oral use exclusively (Butler et al. 9). These motives are suggestive of increased risk behaviors frequently linked to having or acquiring major drug use issues, as is the possibility of polysubstance use being more prevalent in non-oral users.

This rise in the incidence of stimulant drugs, such as Adderall, is troubling because such medications can have serious adverse effects on one’s health. According to the US National Institute on Drug Abuse, stimulants can cause symptoms of starvation, elevated blood pressure, and nervousness, as well as increase the risk of having a stroke (Abelman 2). The dopamine that substances rapidly produce in the brain can disturb normal brain function and raise the likelihood of addiction. Pharmaceutical firms and addiction agencies characterize them as highly addictive drugs that have the risk of resulting in severe cardiovascular consequences, including unexpected cardiac death, stroke, and convulsions, in addition to issues with other organs like the liver and kidneys (Abelman 2). Additionally, it has been demonstrated that they can cause psychosis, paranoia, panic, and melancholy in certain people. However, in order to see the complete picture of the symptomology and side effects, it is vital to analyze each kind of health consequence.

Common Sideffects of Stimulant Intake

To start with, those who abuse stimulants seem to suffer from greater adverse effects than people who take them responsibly. It has been claimed that people who abuse the stimulants, in addition to those who take them recreationally, are more likely to feel excitement and agitation compared to those who have a prescription and follow the instructions (Edinoff et al. 4). They had a higher propensity to express alterations in sex drive as well. In particular, stimulants can raise the risk of myocardial ischemia in athletes with ADHD, presumably as a result of stimulant-induced tachycardia (Edinoff et al. 4). The activity of prolonged durations, which athletes frequently engage in, exacerbates this, hence care should be used when recommending Adderall drugs to athletes.

It is indeed vital to notice that people who use drugs for medicinal purposes are more likely than people who use drugs recreationally to support using stimulants with tobacco, Adderall, cannabis, and serotonergic drugs. In comparison to individuals who use it for non-medical reasons, they have also disclosed alcohol usage at a reasonably high proportion. (Lookatch 400). Given the potential for drinking and medications to mix, this is alarming. Stimulants can reduce an individual’s perception of the effects of alcohol addiction, causing them to drink more alcohol to experience the effects they perceive to be stronger (Lookatch 400). This might result in poor judgment due to damaged health.

Complementary Substance Abuse Disorders

Pharmacoepidemiological research conducted in college samples has shown that stimulant substance use, whether it is a prescription from a doctor, is not only rising but also associated with unsafe alcohol intake. This is a common consumption pattern that results in a blood alcohol level of 0.08 g/dL or higher, frequent heavy drinking, as well as other drug abuse, such as smoking, notably tobacco and marijuana (Busto Miramontes 2). In accordance with additional research, it is also linked to suicidal thoughts and actions (Lookatch 400). According to this notion, it was discovered that both children and adults who admitted having a severe deep depression the year prior were more likely to report using prescription painkillers for non-medical purposes. Additionally, human enhancement drugs and cannabis usage have been linked to a number of societal costs for young people, including a rise in driving accidents, an upsurge in alcohol-related impairments, and a greater prevalence of unsafe sex (Busto Miramontes 2). The usage of mind-altering and stimulating drugs in this group has recently been the subject of studies in scientific literature.

Aside from gaining more addiction toward substances, there have been links shown between abused stimulants and illegal drug usage. A total of 31,244 psychoactive drug episodes occurred in 2010, of which 26% were linked to sedatives and sleeping pills, 16% to opioids, 14% to cannabis, and 19% to alcohol (Edinoff et al. 3). A 2013 longitudinal research including 948 college students raised the possibility of a connection between marijuana or alcohol usage by students and abuse of prescription stimulants (Edinoff et al. 3). Additionally, this analysis found that 89–92% of those who misused prescription stimulants also used marijuana (Edinoff et al. 3). In this sense, the use of stimulants has a direct connection with substance addiction, significantly more potent drugs (Edinoff et al. 3). The chance of using non-medical prescription stimulants together with alcohol increased with the consumption of more conventional alcoholic drinks and binge drinking throughout the previous month.

Lastly, since intranasal delivery has a more stimulating effect than orally administered drugs, it may be a significant risk factor for dependency. Generally, performance enhancement might be the reason given for using stimulants most frequently through oral methods and snorting (Butler et al. 8). Such prescription of oral stimulants for performance improvement may indicate a lack of sufficient resources or assistance for individuals in a highly stressful setting, including memory-based performance analysis, where exam results might have far-reaching repercussions. The misuse of these stimulants by students whose goal is to improve their productivity through oral methods raises concerns about how these individuals view the efficacy of their care.

Psychiatric Impact

While stimulants are pharmacological, there is constantly a hypothetical chance that using them will lead to the development of a psychiatric condition. The likelihood is raised with continued use and higher dosages. The comorbidity and overlapping between ADHD symptoms and those of other psychiatric diseases, including stress, mood disturbances, sleep problems, and psychotic disorders, make it difficult to investigate these potential psychiatric impacts (Edinoff et al. 4). There is much worry about the potential negative effects of long-term stimulants, such as Adderall, usage, including the development of depression, both suicidal conduct and thoughts, and drug use problems (Butler et al. 8). The majority of the data gathered thus far, though, suggests that stimulant drug is generally safe, despite the fact that these are possible negative effects. Nevertheless, people who have suicidal thoughts and might abuse stimulants must be considered with suspicion.

Additionally, long-term stimulant usage may cause anxiety and agitation. Still, several studies also suggest that this medication is typically safe in terms of these consequences. It has not yet been possible to come to an agreement about the long-term stability of prescription stimulant usage, particularly when it is started during the young adult phase (Edinoff et al. 5). Long-term consequences of stimulant usage have also been linked to the production of involuntary movements and repeated muscular spasms that cause loud noises or rapid, hard-to-control bodily jolts (Edinoff et al. 5). These studies advise using stimulants sparingly in people who have neurological illnesses or are at risk of developing one. Numerous studies have also mentioned psychosis as a potential side effect of prolonged stimulant usage (Butler et al. 8). Nevertheless, there is also proof from these trials that stimulant lessens psychotic symptoms and hospital admission for psychosis, and ADHD may possibly be a potential risk for psychotic episodes (Butler et al. 8). Those who have psychopathology or are susceptible to it should use stimulants with more caution, even if more research is required to fully understand this association.

Affordability Issue

Moreover, the statistical analysis showed that there were notable variations between adults from the countries with different net incomes, which indicates that higher affordability of stimulant drugs can impact the health of the majority of students. Poverty, as well as societal and cultural reasons, are frequently cited as causes of rising drug usage. For instance, the economic disparities between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which are categorized as affluent and poor, respectively, have a significant effect on the variations in the inhabitants’ financial capacity (Fadhel 7). In this context, a study on students discovered a link between drug usage and high social status and poor academic performance, significantly higher rates of academic failure and social functioning deficits (Fadhel 7). Therefore, developed countries might indicate increased affordability of stimulant drugs, which can make them more enticing.


Hence, doctors’ prescriptions of stimulants, such as Adderall, is frequently misused, and while has short-term benefits of increased productivity and attention, imposes long-term damages on young adults’ health. Performance enhancement was listed as a motive for non-medical use by approximately 25% of the participants. Stimulants can cause symptoms of starvation, elevated blood pressure, depression, and nervousness, as well as increase the risk of having a stroke. Moreover, the dopamine that substances rapidly produce in the brain can disturb normal brain function and raise the likelihood of addiction.

Works Cited

Abelman, Dor David. “Mitigating Risks of Students Use of Study Drugs Through Understanding Motivations for Use and Applying Harm Reduction Theory: A Literature Review.” Harm Reduction Journal, vol. 14, vol. 1, 2017, 1-7.

Busto Miramontes, Alicia, et al. “The Use of Non-Prescribed Prescription Drugs and Substance Use Among College Students: A 9-Year Follow-Up Cohort Study.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol. 11, 2020, pp.1-7.

Butler, Stephen F., et al. “Non-Medical Use of Prescription Stimulants Among College Students: Non-Oral Routes of Administration, Risk Factors, Motivations, and Pathways.” Frontiers in Psychiatry, vol. 12, 2021, pp.1-11.

Edinoff, Amber N., et al. “Prescription Stimulants in College and Medical Students: A Narrative Review of Misuse, Cognitive Impact, and Adverse Effects.” Psychiatry International, vol. 3, no. 3, 2022, pp.221-235.

Fadhel, Fahmi. “Misuse of Prescription Drugs and Other Psychotropic Substances Among University Students: A Pilot Study.” Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal, vol. 28, no. 4, 2022, pp.1-16.

Lookatch, Samantha J., Hayley C. Fivecoat, and Todd M. Moore. “Neuropsychological Effects of Placebo Stimulants in College Students.” Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, vol. 49, no. 5, 2017, pp.398-407.

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