March 29, 2023

One in eight Americans is now addicted to Adderall after Covid pandemic policies during the Trump administration made the powerful stimulant available online with just a few clicks of a button.

The federal government relaxed prescription drug rules in March 2020, just as the virus was taking off in the US, allowing telemedicine companies to distribute the drug online without face-to-face consultation.

The aim was to keep people out of hospitals and doctor’s clinics while ensuring access to medicines. But it inadvertently created a booming market for start-ups that brazenly advertised their “60-second evaluations” and aggressively marketed the medication on social media.

Today, about 41 million Americans have a prescription for Adderall, estimates suggest, a 16 percent increase from before Covid hit. Last year four million new patients received prescriptions, a doubling compared to the previous year.

Millions of these patients are children and young adults. It is estimated that up to 10 percent of school children are on drugs, as well as a third of students.

Adderall prescriptions have steadily increased over the past 12 years. The numbers include prescriptions for both Adderall, brand and generic, in the US

Telehealth company Done has been running ads with images of pills promising rapid ADHD diagnoses

Telehealth company Done has been running ads with images of pills promising rapid ADHD diagnoses

A mother whose 21-year-old son committed suicide while playing Russian Roulette with a loaded gun and high on Adderall said he was able to lie to telemedicine providers to get the drug, despite a slew of mental health issues that red flags should have raised .

Adderall is a schedule II drug — the same category reserved for opioids such as fentanyl and oxycodone — meaning it has a “high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.”

The drug is a combination of two stimulants, dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, which are used to treat patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

These stimulants increase activity in the central nervous system, which controls the pathways in your brain and spinal cord responsible for most bodily functions.

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Experts believe that ADHD is caused by an imbalance of the hormones dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain.

Not having adequate levels of these hormones can lead to symptoms such as an inability to focus and low motivation.

Adderall works by causing the brain to release extreme amounts of dopamine and norepinephrine.

A separate, brightly colored ad on Instagram features ice cream cones and tells patients to consume sugary snacks every 30 minutes while on the drug

A separate, brightly colored ad on Instagram features ice cream cones and tells patients to consume sugary snacks every 30 minutes while on the drug

But this can become dangerous with misuse and overuse. If a high enough dose is taken, the user will experience euphoria similar to molly or MDMA.

Adderall can cause sudden death or strokes in children and adults, especially those with heart defects or serious heart problems.

Each year, about 1,000 Americans die from prescription stimulants and benzodiazepines such as Adderall and Xanax.

Insomnia and poor sleep are two more common symptoms in heavy Adderall users.

This can lead to exhaustion, severe mood swings, irritability and restlessness during the day.

A chronic lack of sleep can also increase your risk for a host of mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and delusions.

Weight loss is also a possible side effect of Adderall addiction. This can happen due to decreased appetite or excessive exercise.

Adderall increases the amount of glucose — or sugar — released in the body, which raises blood sugar and can lead to stomach pain and diarrhea.

Those who have used the drug for a long time or have used it incorrectly will develop a physical dependence on the drug and experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to break free, including depression, irritability, and trouble sleeping.

Last year, 41 million prescriptions for Adderall were filled

Last year, 41 million prescriptions for Adderall were filled

With the advent of telemedicine and Covid, Adderall prescriptions have increased from 35.8 million in 2019 to 41 million in 2021.

There are fears that over-prescribing the drug is leading to a new wave of addictions, similar to the opioid crisis.

Telemedicine companies saw their profits grow to monumental levels during the pandemic.

Cerebral Inc — which is currently under investigation for aggressively advertising Adderall on Facebook and Instagram — reached a valuation of $4.8 billion just over two years after its inception in 2020.

Done Global Inc — also under investigation for its prescription practices — saw its revenue quickly eclipse the $3 million offered, people familiar with the company said Bloomberg.

The top maker of Adderall for the US market — accounting for more than 80 percent of all sales worldwide — is Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals.

The company has annual sales of approximately $3.59 billion and specializes primarily in generic pharmaceuticals.

Last month, a mother blamed lax Adderall prescription rules put in place during the Covid pandemic for her son’s death.

Elijah Hanson was found dead on June 25 on the kitchen floor in Tacoma, Washington, after filming himself playing Russian Roulette with a loaded gun.

The 21-year-old had received a prescription for Adderall from a telemedicine pharmacy despite suffering from red flag mental health issues, his brother Ethan said.

Mother Kelli Rasmussen blamed Adderall for his suicide, telling CBS that despite her son not having ADHD, he was still able to get a prescription for the drug by lying to telehealth providers.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is required by law to establish manufacturing quotas for ingredients in Schedule II drugs each year.

In December, the DEA announced it would not allow any increase in production of pharmaceutical ingredients used to make Adderall and other stimulants to treat ADHD by 2023.

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The DEA’s decision to limit production, coupled with a surge in prescriptions since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, has reportedly contributed to a shortage of Adderall, as noted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October.

What is Adderrall? The stimulant taken by one in EIGHT Americans

Adderall is a combination of two stimulant substances, dextroamphetamine and amphetamine.

These bind to receptors on neurons, releasing two hormones that help people feel more alert and focused.

What does Adderall do in the body?

Once consumed orally, the drug triggers the release of dopamine — or the feel-good hormone.

This increases motivation, doctors say, making people try harder to achieve their goals.

It also causes more noradrenaline — a stress hormone — to be released, doctors say.

This increases blood flow to a part of the brain related to attention and response, increasing focus.

For people with ADHD, this helps to improve their focus and attention while reducing hyperactive and impulsive behaviors.

But for non-ADHD patients taking Adderall, they are likely to “feel high” and have a sense of euphoria – with the risk of addiction.

How many prescriptions are there in the US?

It is estimated that Adderall prescriptions have increased by about five million during the Covid pandemic.

Before Covid hit, it was only possible to get the drug after personal consultation with a doctor.

But when the pandemic virus arrived, these rules were relaxed so that it could also be prescribed after a virtual consultation.

This has led to the emergence of many telemarketing startups, which offered the drug through advertisements on social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) says “aggressive marketing practices” have contributed to the surge in prescriptions.