teen amphetamine use

The Overuse of Prescription Amphetamines in Teenagers

March 29, 2018

The overuse of illicit and prescription drugs continues to be a significant social and medical problem in the United States. This is particularly true amongst teenagers and the increased use of prescription amphetamines by individuals representing that age group.

The following brief post will examine commonly known prescription amphetamines often used by teens, what impact the improper use of these drugs can have upon on young person’s body, the signs and symptoms parents of a potential abuser should be alerted to that might indicate their child (children) is/are misusing or addicted to such chemicals and what steps can be employed should their fears be confirmed.

Ritalin and Adderall

Arguably, the two most commonly prescribed amphetamines misused by teenagers are Ritalin and Adderall. In many instances, young people begin using these drugs for legitimate, therapeutic purposes. Physicians often prescribe such medications to remedy the learning and mental disability known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Amphetamines like Ritalin and Adderall are known to improve concentration and help those ingesting such substances remain awake and alert for extended durations. Such benefits might be enticing to students enrolled in strenuous academic programs at the high school or collegiate level who seek a competitive edge and, in some cases, these individuals might become addicted to drugs that provide these attributes.

The easy availability of these drugs contributes to the growing problem of teen misuse of them. While prescription amphetamines can be purchased from shady drug dealers, prospective users typically will not have to resort to such tactics because the drug might be in a medicine cabinet inside their homes or can be easily swiped from a friend’s backpack or locker.

What Are The Immediate Bodily Impacts Of Prescription Amphetamines?

Ritalin, Adderall and other amphetamines in general can be especially addictive because they act directly upon a user’s brain and central nervous system. Such substances increase the brain’s production of chemicals called dopamine and norepinephrine, which improve focus, mood and alertness.

What Long-Term Effects Are Possible?

In addition to the potential for addiction, prescription amphetamines might also precipitate cardiovascular maladies such as accelerated heart rates, irregular heart rhythms and high blood pressure, digestive maladies like major appetite loss, nausea and a precipitous drop in weight, mental manifestations including anxiety, depression, paranoia, anger and, quite possibly psychosis or permanent brain damage. Disrupted sleep patterns are also relatively common with prolonged usage of Ritalin and Adderall.

What Signs And Symptoms Might Indicate Prescription Amphetamine Addiction?

Misuse or addiction to prescription amphetamines might precipitate numerous physical and behavioral symptoms.

Physical Manifestations

The parents or loved ones of a teen suspected of misusing prescription amphetamines should carefully watch for potential manifestations including sudden or drastic appetite changes, if he or she complains of stomach aches or makes frequent trips to the bathroom, remains awake for extended periods of time or experiences a noticeable change in sleeping habits, experiences wild mood swings, notices vision problems or has visible skin maladies.

Behavioral Symptoms

A teen might be addicted to Ritalin or Adderall if he or she engages in reckless or dangerous behavior, associates with a different group of friends or peers, experiences a significant decline in academic performance or loses interest in activities once enjoyed.

It is important to note that any of the above physical and behavioral symptoms do not guarantee that a teenager is misusing or has become addicted to prescription amphetamines. Such manifestations could be the result of many other illnesses or conditions. Certain symptoms might even be chalked up to “typical teenage behavior.”

Can An Addicted Teenager Be Helped?

If a parent or loved one discovers his or her teenage relation has a problem with prescription amphetamines, fortunately, there are several potential methods of treatment including drug counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy and entrance into a recovery program. The most appropriate form of treatment to employ will depend upon many different factors such as how long the young person has been abusing the substance in question, the severity of the addiction and what long-term or possibly permanent physical or mental manifestations may have arisen to the drug use. It might be advisable to consider the opinions of a physician and drug counselor before rendering such an important decision.


The overuse of prescription amphetamines is a serious problem faced by many teens and their families, which could have significant consequences if not properly identified and treated. If your child is struggling with this or any other type of addiction, the Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment center may be able to help. We are an inpatient facility that only serves the needs of teenagers dealing with mental health, behavioral or addiction issues.


  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-vs-ritalin#warnings
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/adhd/adderall-vs-ritalin#warnings
  3. https://www.livestrong.com/article/140023-dangerous-side-effects-ritalin-adderall/
  4. http://www.westhartfordnews.com/news/adhd-drug-use-rises-sharply-among-young-women/article_44d2de49-b030-5bf9-b794-258790d75c59.html
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