With a recent statement from actor Channing Tatum comparing Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medications like Dexedrine and Adderall to cocaine and crystal meth, many are left asking–how could one make such a comparison? Are these drugs actually dangerous, or in any way linked to meth and other drug abuse?
ADHD Drugs Linked to Drug Abuse?
The connection between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and methamphetamine abuse is seen initially in the chemical composition of the substances. Adderall contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, both of which are central nervous system stimulant drugs. Dexedrine, another common ADHD medication, contains just dextroamphetamine. Both Adderall and Dexedrine are both known to be habit-forming and are popularly abused as “legal cocaine” or “study drugs” amongst youth.
Stimulant medications used in treating ADHD work by raising levels of the chemical dopamine in the brain, which is said to improve mental focus. Dopamine also causes feelings of physical and emotional pleasure. As such, when dopamine levels are raised to abnormally or unnaturally elevated levels, one can get a feeling of being “high” and want more.
The same phenomena occurs with cocaine, meth and and other street drugs. Dopamine levels are raised by giving the body chemicals that the brain recognizes as “pleasurable.” When the person stops ceases taking drugs, it can take the body several weeks to replenish its natural dopamine production functions, leaving an individual feeling feel sad, depressed, irritable and mentally unstable with no immediate understanding as to why. The quickest way to feel good again is to take more of the drug. This is the most basic concept behind the start of a cycle of addiction.
The Abuse of Prescription ADHD Medications
Prescription stimulant drugs such as Ritalin, Vyvanse, Dexedrine and Adderall are commonly abused. As is seen in multiple online conversation threads and discussion forums, these pills are described as “the perfect party drug” with highs “similar to cocaine.” Stimulant meds are not devoid of severe comedowns (mental and physical discomforts associated with a drug high wearing off), and are linked to a number of adverse reactions and potential health risks misused or if too much is taken.
Many drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers have seen a link between prescription stimulant abusers who later become addicted to similar illicit street drugs. Pills composed with amphetamine, such as Dexedrine and Adderall, present a direct chemical connection to methamphetamine.
John’s Story: From ADHD Meds to Meth and Cocaine Use
According to a study published in the Journal of Health Economics, approximately 1 million children are misdiagnosed with behavioral disorders before kindergarten age. In John’s case, misdiagnosis and a Dexedrine prescription set him on a dangerous path of substance abuse which required later life drug treatment.
In his early teens, John began smoking marijuana. His parents noticed his grades slipping and took him to see a counselor who, unaware of the drug use which John kept hidden, immediately diagnosed him as ADHD. John eventually became hooked on his Dexedrine prescription and abused it regularly while selling pills to his friends in high school and college.
When he could no longer obtain a prescription for Dexedrine, John developed a cocaine habit which eventually led him to methamphetamine use. He battled this addiction throughout his early adult life until he attended the Narconon Program at age 23.
John’s story and the facts above point out some valid issues and expose a dangerous connection between attention deficit hyperactivity drugs and meth abuse.
Consult your doctor and explore all the risks and facts before taking prescription stimulant drugs.