Essay on ADHD Stimulant Abuse in the College Population

Submitted By maddie-turner
Words: 612
Pages: 3

Addictions: PSYC 3403
Stimulant Abuse
Maddison Turner

Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall are just a few of the commonly prescribed mild central nervous system stimulants that are used to treat ADHD. Methylphenidate (MPH) is the active ingredient found in Ritalin and Concerta while amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (ADA) are the active compounds in Adderall. Both stimulants have the ability to cross the blood brain barrier and mimic the effects of common neurotransmitters (NT) in the prefrontal cortex, attention-related areas in the parietal cortex, and the nucleus accumbens (Advokat & Scheithauer, 2013). MPH’s mode of action is not fully understood, however it is thought to be an indirect agonist of dopamine (DA) and norepinephrine (NE) reuptake transporters located on the presynaptic membrane. ADA on the other hand gets absorbed into the presynaptic membrane, acts on VMAT2 (vesicular monoamine transporter 2, a protein that transports monoamines into synaptic vesicles) to reverse the packaging process leading to an increased concentration of DA and NE in the cytosol. Simultaneously, ADA also reverses the presynaptic reuptake transporters of catecholamines leading to increased exocytosis and concentration in the synapse (Advokat & Scheithauer, 2013). ADA and MPH normalizes and stabilizes DA and NE signaling in ADHD patients, however it elevates NT levels in non-ADHD people. Therapeutic doses have shown to increase arousal, euphoria and focus, it also improve task motivation and concentration while also relieving stress, decreasing appetite, restlessness, impulsivity and hyperactivity. These effects combine to create what is thought of as a cognitive enhancing drug, which is appealing to the university population. Jeremy Sharp and Lee Rosén preformed a survey across Western American universities and found that 18% of the students admitted to personally engaging in recreational stimulant use (Sharp & Rosén, 2007). Johnston and O’Malley also studied stimulant abuse in university populations, and found that MPH and ADA are the only recreational drugs more prevalent among the university populations (9.3%) than the non-university population (7.8%) (Johnston et al., 2012). When consumed for typical medicinal use and at therapeutic doses, addiction is rare and enhanced cognitive has been achievable in nonADHD populations; however when one increases the dose and heavily uses MPH and ADA an addiction will result. The addiction forms through epigenetic alterations of transcription factor gene expression, ΔFosB, cAMP, CREB, and NFκB. When excessive doses are consumed; memory, cognition and self-control are impaired. One also will become paranoid, hostile anxious, experience elevated body temperatures and an irregular heartbeat. To date, there are currently no FDA approved…