Blog Post

Young Mothers Using Popular ADHD Drug to Cope

An alarming number of overworked women across the U.S. are becoming addicted to the popular ADHD drug Adderall in their quest to keep up with careers and families.

According to a report by ABC News, addiction to Adderall among young women is becoming a serious health concern. Suburban moms all over the country say the drug, a central nervous system stimulant that is commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), gives them a boost of energy that helps them keep up with the demands of their busy lives. Some even admit to stealing the drug from their children or lying to doctors in order to get more.

The numbers are alarming. Between 2002 and 2010, there was a 750 percent increase in Adderall prescriptions for women between the ages of 26 and 39.

Betsy Degree, from Minneapolis, told ABC she started taking the drug to cope with the demands of caring for four children.

"I grew up in a house where my mom was very neat," she said. "Everything was really clean, beautiful dinners every night and that didn't come naturally for me."

Several years ago, when one of her children was diagnosed with ADHD, she decided to try one.

"I was able to get all the stuff done around the house," she said. "I was able to cook the dinner and have everything perfect."

She was hooked almost immediately. Feeling like "supermom" while on the drug, she would sometimes stay up until 3:00 a.m. doing laundry.

"I couldn't stop," she said. "I could not stop taking them. I'd say, I'm just going to take them one more time."

When the pills ran out, she resorted to tricking the family doctor into writing more prescriptions. She'd say she lost the pills, or that the dosage was wrong and she needed another prescription - anything to get her hands on the pills.

Degree is not alone. In fact, so many women are resorting to Adderall to keep up with their lives that an online cottage industry has grown up around teaching women how to trick their doctors into giving them more pills.

Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden, an addiction treatment facility, says the situation is getting out of control.

"This is a significant problem. We've got an increase in women using drugs like Adderall ending up in our treatment programs... It's dangerous and can cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks, even death.'

Women such as Joani Gammil, a registered nurse who nearly died after taking an accidental overdose of Adderall pills, are reaching out to women who need help getting off the drug.  Gammil wrote a book called The Interventionist which documents the dark path her addiction led her down. When she couldn't fool her doctor into giving her the pills anymore, she turned to meth, and nearly lost her business, her children and her life.

Both Degree and Gammil are now "clean" of the drug and are speaking up to warn women away from Adderall. 

"It's pretty addictive," Degree said. "It can happen to anybody."

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®