Adderall Facts, Statistics & Myths - 2023
In This Article
Adderall has exploded in popularity over the past decade. This prescription medication made of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine treats attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
Doctors commonly prescribe Adderall because it increases concentration, focus, and motivation. Hence, the nickname "study drug."
That‘s why it's become so famous, particularly among high school and college students. Unfortunately, that popularity has led to a surge in Adderall abuse and addiction.
Adderall Usage Statistics
- Approximately 1.8% of 12th graders had experimented with Adderall in 2020.1
- The addiction to Adderall among 12th-grade students seems to have dwindled, with a noticeable decrease in usage since 2012.1
- Nearly 2% of those in grades 8, 10, and 12 admitted taking the medication in 2020.1
Adderall Abuse & Addiction Statistics
- Adderall was among the top list of misused and abused drugs in the U.S. in 20161, with its market revenue reaching $363.8 million.2
- Misuse is evident in those aged 18 to 25, most obtaining the drug through unofficial and unprescribed means, such as friends or family members.4
- Nearly 1,500 people end up in the emergency room annually due to Adderall overdose.8
- White college students who reported misusing the drug were almost three times higher (5%) than their African American peers (2%).9
- Among full-time male college students, 14.6% reported using the drug annually, compared to only 8.8% of their female counterparts.10
- 11% of college students in 2018 used Adderall for nonmedical reasons.10
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Treatment for Adderall Addiction
If you or someone you know is struggling with Adderall addiction, seeking help is vital. Treatment will depend on the severity of the addiction and involve counseling, medications, support groups, and educational programs.
- Inpatient treatment is recommended for those using Adderall for a long time. It’s also for those who have tried to quit but failed. This treatment includes detoxification, intensive counseling and therapy, and recreational activities.
- Outpatient therapy may be necessary for those who do not need inpatient treatment. It involves counseling, support groups, medication management, and lifestyle changes.
- Addiction and mental health treatment provides the right information, support, and resources to help individuals with dual diagnoses find relief.
No matter the treatment option, remember that Adderall addiction is treatable. You can regain control of your life with the right combination of medical and psychological care.
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Here are some of the most common misconceptions about the prescription drug:
Myth 1: Adderall is a stimulant and is not addictive.
Fact: Adderall is a stimulant. But when abused, it can wreak havoc on your brain. It can damage neurons that affect mood and cognition, leading to mania, anxiety, cognitive disorders, auditory hallucinations, and anxiety. Adderall abuse can also cause neuroinflammation and neurotoxicity.11
Neuroinflammation is a process in which the brain’s immune system is chronically activated and can cause long-term impairment. On the other hand, neurotoxicity is caused by excessive Adderall use, resulting in a decrease in dopamine receptors and an increase of free radicals in the brain.
Myth 2: Adderall can improve academic performance.
Fact: An experiment on college students showed it improved focus and concentration by 10%. However, students who took it reported difficulty remembering numbers by 7%.
This suggests that Adderall may not be the best choice for retaining temporary information. It also didn't have a significant help in reading or recalling words or phrases. Hence, Adderall doesn't necessarily improve academic performance.9
Myth 3: Adderall is the only treatment solution for treating ADHD.
Fact: There are other treatments for ADHD, such as cognitive and behavioral therapy, lifestyle modifications, and alternative treatments.
However, Adderall may be the most effective solution in certain cases. Unfortunately, the early introduction of the drug to children may stunt their growth in height and weight.12
Myth 4: Adderall helps in staying awake and alert.
Fact: It stimulates the brain and helps with focus, but not necessarily for longer hours. Taking too much of it can lead to insomnia.
Adderall also compromises your judgment, which increases the risk of injury and accidents. Abusers with a heart condition are also at higher risk of cardiac arrest.9
- ADHD diagnoses among children aged 3 to 17 in the U.S. experienced a steady incline since 2003 (4.4 million) and 2007 (5.4 million), reaching a peak in 2011 (6.4 million). However, 2016 saw a decline (6.1 million).1
- The condition affects 1 in 10 children in the U.S.1
- The most diagnosed age group with ADHD from 2016 to 2019 were teens aged 12 to 171 at 13.2% (3.3 million).3 Ages 6 to 11 followed at 10% (2.4 million), and 3 to 5 at 2% (265,000).5
- Boys are twice as likely (13%) to receive a diagnosis compared to girls (6%).5
- A higher percentage of Black and non-Hispanic (12%) and white and non-Hispanic (10%) children are diagnosed with ADHD compared to Hispanic (8%) and Asian and non-Hispanic children (3%).5
- Diagnosis rates among children aged 3 to 17 differ greatly from State to State, with some reporting as low as 6% or as high as 16%.5
- Six out of 10 children with ADHD also suffer from other medical conditions (64%) like anxiety (33%) and conduct or behavior problem (52%). Other comorbidities include Tourette syndrome (1%), depression (17%), and autism spectrum disorder (14%).5
- The estimates for ADHD treatment in children with current ADHD range in States from 58% to 92%.5
- Three out of four adolescents with ADHD reported receiving treatment.5
- When it comes to managing symptoms, medication and behavior treatment are the most common approaches among those aged 2 to 17.5
|Medication (62%)||Behavior Treatment (47%)|
|Ages 2 to 5: 18%||Ages 2 to 5: 60%|
|Ages 6 to 11: 69%||Ages 6 to 11: 51%|
|Ages 12 to 17: 62%||Ages 12 to 17: 42%|
77% of children with ADHD are actively seeking treatment to manage their symptoms. Among these, 30% rely solely on medication, while another 15% opt for exclusive behavior treatment.
The remaining 32% incorporate both methods to tackle their ADHD. Unfortunately, 23% of children with ADHD remain untreated.5
Alternative Treatments for ADHD
Alternative treatments for ADHD have evolved beyond traditional Western medicine. A good example of this is Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).6
Deviating from the conventional, CAM may include:
- Computer training programs
- Elimination diets
- Omega 3/fish oil supplements
Herbs, vision therapy, homeopathy, sound training, biofeedback, and hypnotherapy are other alternative treatments for ADHD.7
You can use these approaches in combination with or in place of traditional medications and therapies. However, remember that they don't always have scientific backing. So, stay informed and consult your doctor before trying any of these treatments.
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- Elflein, J. “Adderall use annual prevalence among U.S. students 2021.” Statista, 2022.
- Matej Mikulic. “Top 20 most abused prescription drugs in the U.S. in 2016, by revenue.” Statista, 2021.
- Elflein, J. “Percentage of children in the U.S. who ever had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder from 2016 to 2019, by age.” Statista, 2022.
- Johns Hopkins University. “Adderall abuse on the rise among young adults, Johns Hopkins Study suggests.” The Hub, 2016.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “Data and Statistics About ADHD.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022.
- University of California, Davis. “Complementary and alternative treatment of ADHD.” UC Davis Health Mind Institute, n.d.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Alternative treatments for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.” Paediatrics & Child Health, 2003.
- National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. “Drug Abuse Statistics.” NCDAS, 2023.
- Aberg, S. E, et. al. ““Study Drug” Abuse by College Students: What You Need to Know.” National Center for Health Research, 2022.
- Bouchrika, I. “75 College Drug Abuse Statistics: 2021/2023 Data, Facts & Predictions.” Research.com, 2022.
- Fu, Y.-P., & Wang, Y. “Amphetamines abuse and depression: Focus on TRPC channels.” Experimental Neurology, 2023.
- Berman, S. M. “Potential Adverse Effects of Amphetamine Treatment on Brain and Behavior: A Review.” Molecular Psychiatry, 2009.