(KYTX) - The stimulant drugs Adderall and Ritalin are commonly used to help control Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.
But unfortunately not everyone using those drugs has a disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the amount of young people taking Adderall without a prescription is on the rise.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates 1 in 5 students has taken Adderall without a prescription.
It may not seem like a big deal for college students who need to pull an all-nighter to study for an exam, but addiction specialists says there's more danger in it than students realize. Not only is taking prescription medication from someone illegal, it can also have lasting effects on your brain...
"The first and ultimate harm is that they're messing with their own brain chemistry. And, that's a very dangerous thing."
Vicki Adelman with Add-Life Recovery Center in Tyler says the problem with taking these so-called "study drugs" is that college students can start popping them more often than when test-time rolls around.
"It could lead to the need to have that drug on a continued basis."
"You get dependent on it. It's just, it's not good."
Tyler Junior College student Andrew Alston is prescribed Adderall.
"Being ADD, I find it hard to focus anyways. Adderall just helps me do what I should be doing."
But, he says he once lived with someone who was taking the drug without a prescription. Then eventually, Alston says his habit spiraled out of control.
"He would stay up for days on end. He would snort it. It was just... It got really dark at some point."
Adelman says college students may not realize those consequences when they think they're just trying to help someone cram for a test.
"The person who's taking the drug would find that 'yeah, it did help me get through the exam, but not remembering that it was properly diagnosed to a person who was tested and proven to have a learning disability."
Plus, there's the danger of mixing medications.
"It's not just that it's a felony, which is bad enough, but that the person accepting the pill could also have a reason to not take Adderall or be taking medication that could conflict with the Adderall."
"Definitely makes you feel good. And, you feel like it's not dangerous, but for those who aren't add, it definitely is."
Alston says he takes his Adderall prescription seriously, and never wants to see anyone struggle with an addiction to it again.
"I'm definitely on the lookout for people who abuse it at this point."
If you or someone you know is addicted to Adderall and you would like to call for help, dial a crisis hotline at 1-800-521-7128