With so much pressure to perform these days, get ahead, and power through juggling work and home responsibilities, a growing number of adults are misusing prescription stimulants like Adderall to boost productivity, just as college students have misused them to cram for exams. But no matter what your stage in life, taking prescription stimulants non-medically is riskier than many people assume, unlikely to be effective, and can put your health and success in jeopardy.
Here’s what you should know:
Fact: There is no evidence that you’ll get the performance edge you’re seeking. Using stimulants non-medically to make up for poor time management, for example, isn’t an effective way to boost productivity.
Fact: These drugs are not “safe” to take non-medically. Using them without a physician’s supervision carries risks, including the possibility of interactions with other drugs and alcohol, addiction, or adverse health consequences. Short-term consequences include sleep difficulties, restlessness, headaches, irritability and depressed feelings. Additionally, taking high doses of prescription stimulants may result in dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, seizures, or heart attack.
Fact: Using prescription stimulants non-medically is illegal. Trading, sharing or selling prescription stimulants also carries legal risks.
Consider healthier ways to improve productivity
- Learn to say no to extra responsibilities. Take an honest look at your workload and what you can reasonably handle, given your time and resources. If you are overloaded, consider talking to your manager about pushing back on a deadline. Emphasize that you want to do a good job but need more time.
- Delegate, delegate, delegate. Ask coworkers if they can pitch in on a project. At home, don’t hesitate to divvy up chores from grocery shopping to cleaning—even little kids can put away toys or help set the table.
- Practice good time management. A major help: Use a daily, prioritized task list broken into time allotments with the most difficult tasks heading the list.
- Limit time bandits. This includes chatting with coworkers and overusing social media.
- Build in R&R for balance. Are you pushing yourself too hard? Remember, time spent on rest and relaxation, including just taking a brief walk around the block, helps boost your energy, production, and mood, which can translate into better performance!
- Step back and evaluate. If none of these methods work and you’re still feeling pressure to perform beyond a healthy capacity, figure out a way to change course. Perhaps it’s to find a different job with more work/life balance, scale back on activities, or even adjust your expectations about what it means to “get ahead.”
For Health Advocate members
- If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program and feel overwhelmed, stressed or struggle with substance abuse of any kind, talk to your Health Advocate Licensed Professional Counselor. You’ll receive free, confidential help, and if needed, referrals for additional support.
- If you’re a Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate who specializes in behavioral health. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help.