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Adderall production and managing abuse becomes a balancing act

Special to The Prospector

Editor’s note: This is part three of a three-part series examining student abuse of prescription drugs Adderall and Ritalin.

The battle to keep Adderall abuse at bay is a tug and pull between meeting consumer demands and regulating the active pharmaceutical ingredient production under the supervision of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“There are two forces, one of them is the DEA that has put the restrictions on the production of the active ingredient of Adderall (amphetamine salts),” said José Rivera, director of the cooperative pharmacy program at UTEP. “The other force is there is an increase in prescriptions, so when both of them meet, then on occasion you have problems of not finding the medication readily available.”

There’s a trend of increased use and also misuse of Adderall. People are using them without prescriptions either to get high, or as a college student to be more alert, more awake and to be able to concentrate. Rivera said those things could be attractive in terms of getting ready for an exam.

There are some estimates that nationally between 20 to 30 percent of college students have used Adderall within the last 12 months without a prescription, Rivera said.

The marketability of the drug may also have some consumers convinced that using the drug is normal. Drug companies specifically advertise in a way that makes the audience believe they need medication when they actually don’t, Rivera said.

“I’m completely opposed to direct consumer marketing by drug companies. The main reason is the way they present information. Anybody could relate to many of these ads,” Rivera said. “The way they advertise for Adderall and other controlled substances is a lot more regulated…the way they market some of those medications it’s almost like, ‘okay, we can all take it.’”

Data from found that Adderall XR ranked 100th in current sales out of all U.S. pharmaceuticals. In the third quarter of 2013, sales were at $171.8 million, which is down 5.66 percent from the second quarter. The generic brand of amphetamine/dextroamphetamine was ranked 67 with $233.9 million in the third quarter, down 9.43 percent from the second quarter.

Adderall is a schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has the highest potential for addiction.

Adderall is a mix of amphetamine salts. They are stimulants that basically work with the dopamine receptors in the brain and produce a number of different effects, including the person’s ability to stay awake longer, to be more alert and produce energy. For those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Adderall helps with concentration.

The Internet can contribute to the misuse because of its availability and convenience.

“There will be websites that are going to promote selling (Adderall) and those are not regulated the way they should be,” Rivera said. “There are some websites that work around the law to try to get people to purchase medications through the Internet.”

With the Affordable Care Act beginning to take full effect, there may be a rise in prescriptions, since previously uninsured people will now be insured and able to get prescriptions.

“People now, who don’t have health care insurance, they probably avoid any type of healthcare, unless there is an emergency,” Rivera said. “Probably with the increase of people with insurance, there may be more diagnosis of ADHD and people receiving prescriptions for them.”

Adderall has a number of problems besides addiction. The drug may affect the cardiovascular system and cause strokes. Adderall may also stimulate the brain to a high level and raise a person’s blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. After prolonged use, the person’s tolerance grows, therefore requiring a higher dose. It can lead to seizures, hallucinations and depression because the amphetamines deplete the dopamine after releasing so much of it.

People looking to get a bigger high may crush and snort or inject the amphetamines.

“That’s the most dangerous because there are other substances there,” Rivera said. “You’re increasing the effect because it’s going directly to the blood, but there are other stuff in the tablet or capsule that is not for the purpose of injection. So you can be causing additional problems.”

Kristopher Rivera may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Kristopher Rivera, Copy Editor
At the beginning of Kristopher Rivera’s sophomore year, he was sitting in a psychology course, pondering his future in regards to a career. He questioned if he really wanted to pursue a career in psychology, which was his major at the time. Feeling uncertain, he began to think of how one decision at that moment would shift everything about his future. He seemed to do well when it came to writing, and he enjoyed reading about bands in magazines such as Alternative Press, Rolling Stone and SPIN. So then he did some research and found that journalism was the way to go. Now, Rivera, senior multimedia journalism major, is scheduled to graduate this fall. It’s also marks his third year with the Prospector. He’s covered stories in sports, entertainment and news. In between some time at the Prospector, Rivera landed two internships. He spent his fall 2012 semester in Washington D.C. as an intern reporter for the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire. Many UTEP students like him have had the privilege to go experience living at the nation’s capital. He covered stories in the area, and saw political figures such as President Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Rivera also had a nice opportunity to see the Who at the National Press Club, where they talked about their organization to help children with cancer. This summer Rivera was in Sacramento, Calif. working as an intern reporter for the Sacramento Bee newspaper. He had the opportunity to cover all kinds of stories such as a homicide, community events, major league baseball games—specifically the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants, and he had some opportunities to work on some music features. He interviewed Ellie Goulding, Cedric Bixler-Zavala (the Mars Volta/At the Drive-In), Randy Ebright of Molotov and a few other artists. Rivera said he’s been blessed to have these opportunities, and it all started at the Prospector. Rivera is also a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
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Adderall production and managing abuse becomes a balancing act