PHOENIX, Arizona -- A prescription drug has users hoping for quick and easy weight loss, and for many it works, but not without some dangerous side effects.
“It’s like doing meth, essentially,” said Dr. Michael Yasinski, a Valley psychiatrist, referring to people who use the drug Adderall without a prescription.
Adderall is the brand-name prescription drug successfully used to treat people who suffer from ADHA. Yasinksi said he is seeing more patients using Adderall to lose weight, even though they do not have a prescription and might not know how much to take, putting them at risk for serious health complications.
“It works very well. It takes away your appetite, makes you lose weight, speeds up your metabolism,” he said. “But it also raises your heart rate and your blood pressure.”
Yasinski said Adderall is widely prescribed, and it is easy for dieters without a prescription to buy pills from friends.
“It is essentially turning these kids into little drug dealers,” he said.
Dieters looking to lose weight from Adderall are also getting younger.
“What used to be a trend in college-age and above is now starting to seep into the high school, the junior high,” Yasinski said.
Nicole Bjorkland, an ADHD patient in her 20s who has had a prescription for the drug since she was 10, said she was often approached by girls looking to lose weight.
“A lot of people would come up to me and be like 'Oh, you take Adderall, right?’ and they’d ask me, 'Can I buy pills off you?' I would always say no,” Bjorkland said.
Bjorkland herself lost 15 pounds when she first started taking the drug, and though she does not take it for the purpose of losing weight, she said she has been pleased by the side effects.
“I’m just not as hungry anymore. On days when I’m famished I will think, oh, I guess I forgot to medicate today,” Bjorkland said.
One Arizona organization is hoping to steer young girls away from extreme weight loss measures.
Girls On The Run serving Maricopa County and Pinal County is a nonprofit focused on teaching third- to eighth-grade girls healthy eating habits and the benefits of exercising.
“We have heard of girls using Adderall or taking other drastic measures to lose weight,” said Megan Kukowski, a spokeswoman for Girls On The Run.
Megan Rose, a 13-year-old program participant, said it works.
“Girls On The Run teaches you to plug into the positive and that makes you feel that you’re amazing just the way you are,” Rose said.