Healthy Treatment for College ADHD

college adhd

A few times in a person’s life require as much sustained concentration as their college years. After all, dedicated attention is certainly necessary to perform well in a rigorous academic environment, and that performance can determine the trajectory of their entire life. What does this mean for those college students that suffer from ADHD, though?

It’s never easy to manage ADHD symptoms, but it’s particularly difficult as a person attempts to transition into adulthood while also juggling classes and social life. In turn, unhealthy methods for managing ADHD often rear their heads on college campuses, and it can take concentrated effort to unlearn these toxic habits.

What Is ADHD, and How Does It Affect The College-Aged Mind?

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. As the name implies, children and adults who suffer from this syndrome have difficulty paying attention to a given task, and can’t seem to stay on one train of thought for long. They may also appear to have trouble listening, have a reputation for constant lateness, and live in a general state of disorganization. 

As to what ADHD actually is, that’s a matter of neuroscience. Basically, someone with ADHD lacks the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. This hinders their executive brain function, which limits their ability for impulse control and decreases attention span.

Today, ADHD is largely recognized as a genetic disorder, meaning that if a child’s parent or parents exhibit a deficiency in norepinephrine, that child is likely to show signs of ADHD. There is ongoing research into whether exposure to certain toxins, premature birth, and other environmental factors might have some bearing on the eventual emergence of ADHD, but no hard evidence backs up these claims yet. 

Unsurprisingly, studies suggest that college students suffering from ADHD have less academic success and experience higher rates of emotional distress than students who do not struggle with this disorder. Just how common is this disorder in college students, though, and how can it be mitigated?

ADHD Rate of Incidence in College Students

Estimates suggest that somewhere between 2% and 8% of college students have been diagnosed with ADHD; this includes around 25% of all college students with a disability. Given that around 9.4% of children between the ages of 2 and 17 had been diagnosed with ADHD as of 2016, it stands to reason that this number will continue to climb.

Studies have found that first semester GPAs of students with ADHD are significantly lower than those of students without ADHD. Given the intense pressure placed on college students to perform well academically, it’s no wonder that those suffering from ADHD are willing to go to whatever means necessary to curb their disorder

what causes anxiety

Adderall Abuse and Addiction in College

Stimulant prescriptions like Adderall are thought to be the most immediately effective means by which to reduce ADHD symptoms. In turn, the use of Adderall can seem like a quick way for college students to improve their academic performance. The problem is, Adderall has gained such a reputation on college campuses that even students who do not suffer from ADHD abuse the medication. 

For those with an Adderall prescription due to an ADHD diagnosis, abuse is an even slippier slope. This is underscored by the fact that pressure and expectation for improved performance as well as access to the medication are two of the largest risk factors for abuse.

Even if a college student has been diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Adderall, it’s easy to become addicted. Taking any amount of the medication beyond the dose prescribed by the doctor is an abuse; someone addicted to Adderall might have trouble sleeping, lose a great deal of weight due to decreased appetite, and seem extraordinarily excitable, among other things. 

It’s important to remember that Adderall is an amphetamine. It enables college students to do things like stay up all night studying without losing their focus. Given the intense stress these students experience, it’s not hard to see why Adderall abuse runs rampant on college campuses.

Treating Adderall Addiction and ADHD

therapy types

Once college ADHD has spiraled into an Adderall addiction, the underlying issue becomes even harder to treat through alternative, therapeutic methods. At that point, neither the ADHD or the Adderall addiction can be treated separately—they are inextricably linked. This is where a dual diagnosis treatment facility comes in.

In turn, college students will need to seek comprehensive help. Naturally, taking Adderall will no longer be a healthy option. There are other, non-stimulant ADHD medications that may be effective, but that option should be explored on a case-by-case basis.

Unfortunately, Adderall withdrawal will feel a lot like withdrawing from any other stimulant. It can spur on depression or anxiety, lead to weight gain, and even trouble sleeping. Because of the unpleasantness of withdrawing from Adderall, therapeutic support is critical.

The right clinician will be able to help a college student express and identify what they’re feeling while also encouraging that student to mend their own self-image. Sufferers of ADHD often have low self-esteem (thanks to being ridiculed for their symptoms), so if that is not addressed, they’re likely to simply turn to a different type of self-medicating once the Adderall addiction is broken. 

Moreover, a therapist will be able to help the college student find healthy ways to manage their symptoms. This can mean utilizing their college’s disability services or simply finding methods of redirecting their energy. 

The most important thing to understand about ADHD treatment is that it’s a highly personal pursuit. No two college students experience the same manifestation of ADHD, so no two treatment plans should look exactly alike. Contact Mission Harbor Behavioral Health to work with a team that’s ready to tackle college ADHD on a case by case basis.

The facilities at Mission Harbor are staffed with trained experts to best assist patients with their mental health issues. We are capable of dealing with any and all cases with a licensed staff, equipment, and approved techniques. Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves, and we support your decision in seeking help.

Get Help Now

Alcohol addiction is extremely difficult to overcome on your own.. Seek specialized help and let professionals guide you in your recovery.