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The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains that “prescription stimulants are medicines generally used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy—uncontrollable episodes of deep sleep.” ADHD is extremely common, as the worldwide prevalence of ADHD is estimated to be around 2.2% in children and 2.8% in adults. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several different stimulant medications to treat ADHD, many of which can be used to treat children as young as 6 years old. Examples of commonly prescribed stimulants include Adderall, Adderall XR, Vyvanse, Dexedrine, and Ritalin. Stimulants are a class of psychoactive substances that work in one’s body by altering and increasing the effects of certain neurotransmitters (dopamine and norepinephrine), which results in increased blood pressure, respiratory function, and euphoria. Stimulants activate the central nervous system to enhance brain activity. 

Drug Dependence

The Mayo Clinic asserts, “Prescription drug abuse is the use of prescription medication in a way not intended by the prescribing doctor.” According to Harvard Health, “drug dependence, which can be psychological or physical, is an uncontrollable desire to experience the pleasurable effects of a drug or to prevent the unpleasant effects of withdrawal.” This can manifest through the following three steps:

  1. Tolerance: the individual requires increased amounts of the substance to achieve its desired effects.
  2. Physical dependence: the individual is unable to limit substance intake without going into a state of withdrawal.
  3. Psychological dependence: the individual experiences a pervasive, uncontrollable need to continue using; possibly arising from fear that they will be unable to function in its absence. 

There is a common misconception that prescription medications are less dangerous to abuse than illicit substances since they are regulated and are prescribed to provide relief from a diagnosed medical condition. However, abuse of prescription stimulants can be as dangerous as abusing any substance. The purpose of prescription medications is to help one’s body reach equilibrium, and repeated abuse of these medications will result in physiological changes in one’s body.

Do They Cause Drug Dependence?

Although all medications have the potential to cause secondary, unwanted effects, there is little evidence substantiating the idea that when taken explicitly as prescribed, stimulant medications cause drug dependence. A 2013 study conducted at UCLA found in youngsters diagnosed with ADHD, taking stimulant medication as children neither increased nor decreased their risk of later becoming addicted. Another study investigating the persistent concerns of long-term effects of stimulant ADHD medication on the development of substance abuse concluded that ADHD medication was not associated with an increased rate of substance abuse. When properly prescribed and taken exactly as directed, stimulant medications can be incredibly effective in reducing unwanted symptoms and improving daily functioning in those diagnosed with associated psychiatric disorders.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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