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It was all a dream … the American dream for many is crashing down in wake of the economic recession. Many are struggling to make ends meet and find themselves unemployed, dealing with inflation, and trying to get by in the midst of the pandemic still looming. Our society has seen profound drug use on the rise and when it comes to the workplace, recession or not, the daily grind has led many to pop prescription pills like Adderall or Ritalin in an effort to keep up, focus, and get ahead … so they think until an uninvited guest called addiction enters the picture.

The white-collar workload typically involves a mix of work yourself into the grave with a touch of momentary pleasure when you think you’ve reached the top. It’s the American hustle, grind, whatever you may call it but with it comes high demand. Enter what some call their game changer, stimulants or performance enhancing drugs. Adderall and Ritalin are both prescription medications that are meant to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These drugs affect dopamine and norepinephrine, chemicals in the brain that contribute to concentration. For those that really have a need for the prescription, stimulants can have a calming effect. Take for instance children that take Ritalin for their ADHD, which helps them follow classroom instructions in school and focus. For adults who have ADHD, they may have lower levels of dopamine receptors in the brain and Adderall helps restore balance. However, for those in the rat race, these drugs come highly preferred so they can one up their competitors and win in their workplace. Besides focus improving, those that use Adderall also report more productivity in the workplace, improved cognitive function, and being able to work for longer periods of time without experiencing fatigue.

Do these reported perks of the performance drug really outweigh the consequences of using it illegally though? The simple answer is no. Adderall is considered a controlled substance because it has the potential for abuse and dependency. Some might think they are on a winning streak with Adderall in their daily regime but really, they are putting themselves at risk for major consequences like the following:

  • Addiction: Taking Adderall without a prescription can lead to addiction as it is a highly addictive drug.
  • Psychiatric issues: While some make think Adderall helps them keep it all together, it can quickly tailspin existing psychiatric issues such as paranoia, anxiety, and depression. It can also be the root cause of these issues to begin with, leading to unwanted mental health problems. The drug can also affect the body physically as one builds tolerance and needs the drug to merely function on a daily basis.
  • Cardiovascular issues: Stroke and heart attack are other serious risk associated with taking Adderall as it can increase heart rate. In some cases, the effects of Adderall on the cardiovascular system lead to sudden death.
  • Workplace performance: Yup, taking Adderall to enhance performance might just negatively affect work performance after all. Having mental health issues arise or worsen like depression or anxiety will not help you get ahead. Additionally, Adderall can cause insomnia, so for some, burnout is inevitable. Lastly, having Adderall without a prescription is illegal and can have consequences such as job loss, imprisonment, fines, and lead to a criminal record.

According to Quest Diagnostics, an analysis of drug test results in the workplace showed that over the last decade, the use of amphetamines, including prescriptions like Adderall, have more than doubled. Are all the people on the workforce using Adderall illegally though? No … but the amount of phony users is in question. To maintain an Adderall prescription, a healthcare provider looks at diagnostic criteria that is outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to give an ADHD diagnosis. Criteria includes but is not limited to inattention symptoms, like lack of attention that causes mistakes in work or school, difficulty with organizing and following instructions, and being task avoidant. It’s really not that difficult to maintain a prescription with criteria like this. In October of 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced a shortage of Adderall. Major pharmaceutical companies are at a loss as they claim to experience manufacturing delays. According to a report by CNN, reports are now indicating that the shortage is “demand driven.”

“Data from the analytics and research company IQVIA shows that the demand for Adderall has risen nearly 27% in recent years, with prescriptions jumping from 35.5 million in 2019 to 45 million last year,” according to the report from CNN. We can’t help but ask if the improper use of Adderall is contributing to the demand and also harming those who actually need the medication.

As more research has been done on Adderall use in the workplace, it has been revealed in some cases that Adderall really didn’t improve performance but made the user feel as if they were performing better than they had. The feeling is not worth the addiction and the road of struggle that comes with it. If we really want to do good work and succeed at attaining the American dream, it doesn’t include drug dependency and short term stints of achievement. The dream is well-being and wealth in all forms, which includes health … because without health, there really is nothing. If you know someone who is struggling to keep up in the current times and taking Adderall or any substance to help them through, we are here to help.

Scottsdale Recovery and Detox Center has been Arizona’s premier addiction center for over a decade and can offer support to our community as well as those nationwide. If you or a loved one need help, connect with our team by visiting scottsdalerecovery.com or call 1-888-NODRUGS.

Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.