Untreated mental health disorders can lead to several serious problems throughout the course of one’s life. The consequences can be dire, especially with conditions like depression and bipolar disorder. Those who have no way of coping with their mental illness will often turn to drugs and/or alcohol, which only serves to exacerbate the problem. Every year, the untreated symptoms of mental illness lead people to make attempts at taking their own life.
Another form of mental health problem worth mentioning is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a problem characterized by having a problem concentrating on specific tasks. Left untreated, people with ADHD struggle to maintain their class load or workload, a problem that can make it hard to get by in life. While the most common treatments for ADHD involve the use of stimulant medications, such as Adderall or Ritalin, both are a type of drug that can easily be abused and are highly addictive.
Attention deficit medications are commonly used and abused by people without a diagnosis or prescription for such drugs. However, the reasons for use are varied; some use them to get an edge in school or work, while others use them to get high or give them more energy for extended alcohol use. It is fair to say that there isn’t a college campus in America where drugs like Adderall are not be used and abused without a prescription. It is worth pointing out that new research findings suggest that those who use ADHD drugs without a prescription often meet the criteria for ADHD and/or substance use disorder, UPI reports. The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
“We know that untreated ADHD is associated with increased risk of alcohol- and drug-use disorders, so it is not surprising that we found high rates of co-occurring ADHD and of stimulant-use and overall substance-use disorders in those misusing stimulants,” said Dr. Timothy Wilens, Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, in a press release.
The researchers came to their findings by looking at 300 Boston-area college students, according to the article. Of the pool, 100 participants were classified as stimulant misusers and 200 were not considered misusers. There were students in each group who had been diagnosed with ADHD. The study found that students with a diagnosis, or displayed symptoms of the disorder, were more likely to misuse the ADHD meds. The findings indicated that 67 percent of misusers met criteria for stimulant-use disorder, and they were more likely to meet criteria for substance-abuse disorder.
“It’s possible that pre-existing cognitive deficits may lead some individuals to develop stimulant misuse as they try to self-medicate,” said Wilens. “The extent of an actual stimulant-use disorder in those who misused stimulants at all suggests that this problem may be more prevalent and severe than previously thought.”