The use of prescription stimulants to improve performance at the workplace could become another epidemic in the US, alongside the opiate epidemic. The practice of using any type of prescription drugs, including stimulants, for purposes other than what they were prescribed for is considered prescription drug misuse. Misuse is a leading cause of prescription drug abuse also known as drug dependency or addiction.
Adderall and Ritalin are two leading prescription stimulants being misused by people who need to get through their work day efficiently or work overtime. Some of them may have started using these drugs in college to enhance academic performance.
About Adderall and Ritalin
Adderall (prescription Amphetamines) is used to treat narcolepsy and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. It works on the central nervous system to stimulate alertness and productivity when used to treat ADHD. But Adderall is an addictive stimulant that affects the brain in a way similar to cocaine.
Ritalin (Methylphenidate) is another central nervous system stimulant used to treat ADHD in children. It has similar effects as amphetamines. Both Adderall and Ritalin work by increasing dopamine or the “feel good” chemicals in the brain.
These drugs provide users with a burst of energy that gives them the euphoria and drive they need to get through longs days at the job, particularly if they work in a stressful environment. However, the dangers of using prescription stimulants to increase performance are not worth the moments of energy rush.
Why Using Prescription Stimulants is a Bad Idea
Powering through long days at work on Adderall or Ritalin can have long-term consequences. These are some of the issues you can face:
High Risk of Addiction
You risk becoming addicted if you use any of these drugs to increase performance or get in on some overtime at work. Dependency can happen if the stimulant is taken regularly or in unprescribed doses. Even taking it in small doses from time to time can cause you to become ‘hooked.” Stimulants are highly addictive and the way they affect the brain keeps you coming back for more. You may eventually build up a tolerance and will crave the drug in larger doses.
Increased Risk of Heart Problems
Adderall was given the street name, “speed,” because it speeds up breathing and heart rate and increases blood pressure. Stimulants put additional pressure on the heart to pump blood faster while working to keep you awake and alert. Misusing them in unprescribed doses carries a risk of serious cardiovascular problems such as a stroke, heart attack or brain hemorrhage. Frequent use of Adderall or Ritalin or using it in stronger doses increases the risk of fatality from overdose.
Changes in Behavior
Abnormal or bizarre behaviors are among the symptoms of stimulant abuse. Behavioral changes include social withdrawal, lowered social inhibition or recklessness, confusion, poor judgment, mood swings, violent behavior, and aggression or hostility. Chronic abuse can also lead to depression or anxiety disorder. Displaying such behaviors at work can make your employer question your competency for the job you do.
Greater Chance for Workplace Accidents
Stimulants cause the central nervous system to process things faster. While the drug may increase your work speed or give you added energy to work for longer hours, it can make you restless, irritable, anxious, and fatigued when you start to withdraw. Once the brain is exhausted, it increases the risk of mistakes and workplace accidents, especially at industrial worksites. This can be extremely dangerous to life and limb if your work involves driving or using heavy or dangerous machines.
Loss of Employment
Displaying symptoms of stimulant abuse such as delusion, hallucinations, delirium, or manic episodes in the workplace or office can have an adverse effect on your professional reputation, job, or career. They will affect your ability to accurately perform jobs such as those that require clear thinking, accurate judgment, or use of interpersonal skills.
Used with the intention to increase performance output and advance your career, Adderall or Ritalin misuse and abuse can backfire and cause you to lose your job or even destroy your career.
Although it may be tempting to use prescription stimulants to overwork, you must weigh the benefits against the risks and ask yourself if it is actually worth it. At its worst, stimulant addiction can make you a liability to yourself and employer.