White collar workers in the US are using a variety of amphetamine-based stimulants, usually prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, to improve work performance.
Prescription drugs like Adderall, Vyvanse and Concerta are among the stimulants used by workers to increase productivity, according to the New York Times, which reported that the illicit nature of the practice made it difficult to get reliable data on how widespread it is.
Doctors said that misuse of the drugs can cause anxiety, addiction and hallucinations in high doses, but users are convinced that if their colleagues are using them, they need to use them to keep up. Users get the pills through illegal dealers or by feigning symptoms of ADHD to obtain a prescription, according to reports.
Research shows stimulant use is spreading. A Federal report from 2013 said non-prescription use among 18-34 year olds was responsible for three times as many casualty appointments in 2011 as in 2005, taking the total number to 23,000. The number of people entering rehab because of stimulant abuse had also increased between 2010-2012.
Abuse of Adderall by college students has become more widespread in recent years – leading some to believe the new trend of office-users is generational. "Given the increase in rates of abuse in college students over the last decade, it is essential that we understand the outcomes as they leave college and assume adult roles," Dr. Wilson Compton, the deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told the Times in an interview.
Legal stimulants – or ones that qualify as vitamins under Federal law and can be distributed without the approval of the medical industry – have also risen in popularity, according to reports.
The New York Observer said that white collar workers are using pills called Nootropics to enhance their working capacity and stay alert during long days.
These pills contain caffeine, amino acids and herb extracts that are supposed to improve memory performance, and can be bought in branded bottles online. In a subreddit site dedicated to the pills, users compare effects of drugs that the FDA hasn’t regulated yet.
But they rarely discuss the findings with their colleagues. "Other employees will burn out and ask me, 'How did you deal with that crazy week?'" one user said. "It’s like a secret weapon."
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