14 News Special Report: Brain Change - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

14 News Special Report: Brain Change

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14 News investigates a popular medication that you or someone in your family could be on right now.

But if it falls into the wrong hands, it can alter the user forever.

Adderall. a popular drug used to treat ADHD. The little pill packs quite the punch, but not always for the right reasons.

From videos on YouTube documenting its success.

"I went from straight D's in Algebra to A's and B's," said one child.

To songs about how it makes them feel, Adderall is a drug that has many singing its praises. Maybe too many.

"The ability of Adderall to cause euphoria in certain individuals and also to cause a sense of wakefulness in others have led to the potential abuse," said Dr. David Schultz.

Dr. Schultz says for abusers, these are desired side-effects. Effects, we've learned, some will pay over $20 a pill for to make them more productive, to help them study harder, or even party harder.

"A lot of people take them to keep their buzz for a frat party that they talk about and what not," said student Joseph Dean.

Some students know it as "college crack" and know that just one of the pills will help them pay attention better and focus more.

It's like steroids in the classroom, and here's why: The amount of activity taking place in the brain of someone on Adderall compared to someone without it is higher. That increased activity is caused, in part, by the release of dopamine.

For someone with ADHD, it's just what the doctor ordered. But for others exposed to high levels of the chemical...

"This can cause a remodeling or taxisphaxius effect that occurs in the brain," said Dr. Schultz.

And that, we're told, can mean changes to the user's personality and demeanor.

And "can cause permanent problems in the brain if used for the wrong reason," said Schultz.

But what is wrong and what is right can vary from doctor to doctor.

Recently, the New York Times published an article that quoted a doctor who prescribes Adderall to low-income, disadvantaged children to help them be competitive in the classroom.

He's quoted as saying "we've decided as a society that it's too expensive to modify the kid's environment, so we have to modify the kid."

At the St. Mary's Center for Children in Evansville, Pediatric Psychologist Sandy Bowersox says, in her office, a comprehensive evaluation is in order before medication is ever discussed.

"It's really important to rule out things like sleep disorder, learning disorders, and other conditions that might actually present like ADHD," Bowersox said.

In the counseling center on the campus of USI, Dr. Thomas Longwell also recommends students be thoroughly evaluated. But if diagnosed with ADHD.....

"A student would potentially be able to receive those medications through our student health center," he said.

Doctors say, if you are one of those handed a script for Adderall, know "when prescribed properly and taken appropriately, Adderall can be a very effective medication," said Schultz.

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