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Performance-Enhancing Drugs at Work

Performance-enhancing drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin are commonly abused by working professionals and college students. Generally prescribed to treated hyperactivity in children, these medications are widely used because they increase dopamine and noradrenaline levels in the brain. These chemicals can temporarily improve concentration levels, making it easier for students and professionals to complete work or school assignments. While these prescriptions are safe when used under the guidance of a doctor, they can be dangerous when used outside of a medical setting. Here is everything you need to know about performance-enhancing drugs in the workplace and what you can do if you or a loved one has an addiction problem. 

Why Do People Abuse Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

Workers abuse performance-enhancing drugs such as stimulants because they want to perform better on the job. Students who want to stay up late completing homework or perform better on tests are also often abused by these medications. Many people mistakenly believe these stimulants provide a variety of benefits, including the following:

  • Alertness: Certain medications can stimulate the nervous system, providing a temporary feeling of alertness. Workers may abuse stimulants to continue working on reports or projects when they are tired.
  • Concentration: Students and workers also use stimulants to increase concentration. People may abuse stimulants or other medications to improve attentiveness when completing monotonous or lengthy tasks. Using stimulants is particularly common among college students who need to stay up all night studying for an exam.
  • Memory: Many people think stimulants help improve memory function. Because of this, students and workers may use medications to recall information before a test or presentation.

While people may feel a burst of energy or mental clarity after taking stimulants, the effects are often short-lived. The side effects of taking the medication without the guidance of a doctor can be hazardous.


What Are the Most Commonly Abused Performance-Enhancing Drugs?

The most abused performance-enhancing drugs include stimulants used in the treatment of ADHD and sleep disorders. These stimulants include:

  • Amphetamines: The most commonly abused amphetamines include Adderall and Dexedrine. Adderall is widely used to treat ADHD, but it can be dangerous if abused or used outside of a medical setting.
  • Methylphenidate: Ritalin and Concerta are the most commonly abused stimulant medications to enhance mental clarity and cognitive performance. Both drugs contain the chemical methylphenidate.
  • Modafinil: This drug is used to treat sleep disorders and is often abused by workers experiencing sleeplessness due to too much work.

Currently, Adderall and Ritalin are the most common drugs abused by workers to improve performance on the job. From 2005 to 2011, emergency room visits caused by prescription stimulant abuse rose by nearly 300% among people under 34. Further, a recent study found that almost 20% of college students have used performing-enhancing drugs without a prescription.


Side Effects of Performance-Enhancing Drugs

While increased energy and mental clarity may seem appealing, abusing stimulants come with many side effects. Some side effects are severe, while others are relatively mild. Your reaction to stimulants depends on how much of the drug you took and how long you’ve been using the medication. These include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings
  • Unintended weight loss

Other side effects of abusing performance-enhancing drugs are more serious. In rare instances, seizures, heart problems, and psychotic episodes may occur. While these side effects are rare, they are more likely to occur if you use stimulants without a prescription or the guidance of a medical professional. Serious effects become more likely as you increase your dosage.


What Are the Signs of an Addiction Problem?

Identifying an addiction in a friend or loved one can be difficult if you do not know what signs to look for. Here are some signs you or a loved one have become too dependent on stimulants:

  • Using drugs consistently: Unless you are under the care of a medical professional, stimulant drugs should not be taken for a prolonged period of time. Using a drug such as Adderall daily for longer than a week could be cause for concern.
  • Going days without proper sleep: A significant side effect of stimulant abuse is difficulty sleeping. Taking Adderall or Ritalin without a prescription can cause sleeplessness, insomnia, or other sleep issues. Sleep problems can quickly become debilitating and are a sign you or a loved one may be abusing stimulants.
  • Hiding use: Many people who abuse prescription drugs know they have a problem and purposefully hide their pill bottles from friends and loved ones. If you have become secretive about your stimulant use, you may be addicted.
  • Weight loss: A common side effect of ongoing stimulant use is unintended weight loss. Stimulants are used as appetite suppressants and can cause rapid weight loss. If a friend or loved one is dropping weight without dieting or exercising, a prescription drug problem may be the cause.
  • Personality changes: Prolonged stimulant use can change your mood or emotional state. If you find yourself more nervous or agitated than usual, these medications may be playing a role.
  • Fear missing a dose: Prescription drug abuse often begins with a few doses here and there. But if you need to take the medication daily to simply function, you likely have a more significant issue that needs addressing.

Prescription drug use often starts out innocently, particularly with stimulants. You may think you just need some help studying for a test or completing a large work project. However, these drugs are addictive, and users quickly need more to achieve the desired effects. If you suspect you or someone you know has an addiction problem, seek help immediately.


Treatment Options for Performance-Enhancing Drugs

There are many options to treat performance-enhancing drug abuse. The first step is admitting you have an issue and committing to getting the help you need. Inpatient rehab is the most effective way to treat serious prescription drug addictions. Inpatient treatment programs are also a good option for people with underlying mental health issues, including anxiety or depression. Inpatient programs provide a safe environment to detox from the drug and learn strategies to overcome their addictive behaviors. Most programs follow structured schedules, including personal counseling, group counseling, family visits, and therapeutic recreational activities.

Outpatient therapy is a good option for those transitioning from a residential program. Outpatient programs may also be a good option for people with mild addictions or experiencing relapsing issues. Unlike inpatient programs, outpatient programs allow patients to sleep at their own homes and participate in outside activities such as work or school. These programs serve an essential purpose in providing patients with the support they need to transition back into everyday life.


Tips to Prevent a Drug Relapse

Overcoming an addiction is a lifelong endeavor that requires daily work and commitment. Once you have completed an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program, the work does not stop. The following steps can help prevent a prescription drug relapse:

Continue therapy: Seeing a therapist on a weekly or monthly basis can keep you accountable. Therapists can also teach healthy coping strategies that you can use to deal with problems without turning to drugs. Joining a support group for recovering addicts can also help you stay on track and prevent a drug relapse.

Avoiding triggers: It is important to avoid people, events, and circumstances that you associate with prescription drug abuse. Replacing unhealthy habits with healthy coping techniques and avoiding triggers can help prevent sudden urges to use performance-enhancing drugs.


Contact Clean Recovery Centers for Help

If you or a loved one is addicted to performance-enhancing drugs, there is help out there. Clean Recovery Centers provides wide-ranging treatment options for those struggling with a variety of substance addictions. We offer residential programs, detox, outpatient therapy, mental health services, and physician referrals. Don’t wait any longer to take back your life.  Contact one of our representatives to begin your healing journey.


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