12 May Stimulant Abuse Rising in the Workforce

The New York Times recently published a report stating that more and more workers are abusing A.D.H.D. drugs in an effort to increase productivity in the workplace.

Amphetamine-based medications such as Adderall that are prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder work by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. This increased activity leads to a more focused attention span and increased hyperactivity. When these A.D.H.D. medications find their way into the wrong hands, they can have highly dangerous effects on the body and lead to drug addiction.

Yet medications like Adderall seem to be gaining in popularity in the university sphere—and most recently, in the workforce. There still remains little reliable data to confirm just how widespread the abuse of these prescription medications is, but The New York Times cites several interviews with working professionals of various fields who admit to misusing stimulants like Adderall, Concerta, and Vyvanse to improve work performance. The Times interviewed Dr. Kimberly Dennis, the medical director of Timberline Knolls, an addiction treatment facility for women located outside of Chicago, about the issue. She stated, “We are definitely seeing more than one year ago, more than two years ago, especially in the age range of 25 to 45.” When The Times interviewed one young woman about the motives behind her abuse of Adderall, she stated, “Friends of mine in finance, on Wall Street, were traders and had to start at 5 in the morning on top of their games — most of them were taking Adderall. You can’t be the one who is the sluggish one.” So while the attention-focusing effects alone might motivate many to abuse A.D.H.D. drugs, often so does the pressure created by colleagues who might be using.

Medications, when misused or abused by those that the medications are not meant for, can have dire consequences. Many turn to tranquilizers at times when they need to relax or sleep but can’t, and to drugs such as cigarettes and other prescriptions to regulate mood swings. Drugs like Adderall can also be habit-forming and bring out long-term effects such as difficulty sleeping, hostility, paranoia, and cardiovascular problems. An overdose could even lead to stroke. The New York Times cited a 2013 report by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which stated that emergency room visits stemming from the nonmedical use of prescription medications of adults 18 to 34 had tripled from 2005 to 2011. That makes for about 23,000 emergency room visits per year.

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Author: Chastity Edwards
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