In September, Shire Pharmaceuticals, the developer and marketer of Adderall, settled a lawsuit claiming that they falsely marketed this drug. The lawsuit, brought by a former executive of the company, stated that Shire had made marketing claims about this drug intended to treat problems controlling one’s attention (referred to as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder by doctors and psychiatrists) that were not supported by clinical evidence.
For example, the lawsuit states that Shire claimed Adderall XR (extended release) was superior to drugs from other manufacturers treating the same condition when there was no such evidence on hand. Also that Adderall XR could help prevent some problems thought to be associated with ADHD, again when there was no such evidence. The list of these problems included:
• Poor academic performance
• Loss of employment
• Criminal behavior
• Traffic accidents
• Sexually transmitted disease
Shire did not admit wrongdoing but settled the claim for $56.5 million.
Meanwhile, Millions of Students Abuse the Drug
It’s said that on many college campuses, it’s easy to get your hands on Adderall. Based on media reports, Adderall seems to be a favorite drug for those who want to write a paper fast or stay up all night studying. After all, it’s a mix of amphetamine salts. So naturally, it’s going to make one artificially wakeful and energetic. But the drug is also addictive. And as a stimulant, it’s hard on a body – especially a young, growing body.
It’s easy to find the stories of people who are addicted to Adderall. Online drug forums feature hundreds of such stories. This article on the New York Times blog makes the dangerous effects of the drug pretty clear: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/04/the-last-all-nighter/. This is the story of a young woman who used Adderall to get through her studies and then continued to rely on it after she took a high pressure job. She ended up addicted and needing rehab to get her life together.
Another New York Times article estimated that 20% of college students have abused this drug. Out of a collegiate student body of 21 million, this means that as many as four million young adults have abused this potentially addictive drug. Some campuses report higher numbers. For example, CNN reported that 30% of the students at the University of Kentucky have used it improperly. Graduate students may have even higher rates.
What does it mean to abuse Adderall? If an individual was prescribed the drug, he took more of it than recommended or took it in a different way (such as snorting). Some students visit the campus doctor with a memorized list of symptoms for which the drug will be prescribed, just so they can get a supply of the pills. And of course, there is a busy black market in this drug.
As a result of the Shire settlement, the company promises to change its marketing methods. But it could take a while for this change to filter all the way down to the students who have been relying on this drug to make them more alert. This shift in marketing message to health practitioners could keep young students from being prescribed this drug as often in the future.
But if any of our young adults in college suffer from damage as a result of their misuse of this drug, it will probably be their families that notice the struggle and support the person in their effort to get clean. Some people will need a little time away from day-to-day life to get their lives back together. Many colleges will permit a medical leave of absence, meaning that a student can take the time to go to rehab, recover their health and their balance and refresh their goals for their educations.
It may be a difficult decision to put one’s education on hold but for a person who has lost control of drug use, it is a vital step to save one’s future and one’s health. Our Narconon centers have experience helping people recover from addiction to Adderall as well as other stimulants. Give us a call if someone you care about is struggling with addiction.