(NEW YORK) — All over America, moms are turning to the prescription drug Adderall for relief. Adderall is a drug for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but these women don’t have ADHD; they say they need Adderall to be better mothers.
Between 2002 and 2010, there’s been a 750 percent increase in Adderall prescriptions for women between 26 and 39. Critics say clearly not all of these women need the drug for ADHD.
ABC News spoke with Betsy Degree from suburban Minneapolis, who started taking the prescription drug to keep up with the demands of being a mother of four.
“I grew up in a house where my mom was very neat,” she said. “Everything was really clean, beautiful dinners every night and that didn’t come naturally for me.”
Several years ago, one of Degree’s children was prescribed Adderall, a central nervous system stimulant, for ADHD. In a moment of desperation she stole a pill from her own child and the addiction was almost immediate.
“I was able to get all the stuff done around the house,” Degree said. “I was able to cook the dinner and have everything perfect.”
Degree tells ABC News she felt like supermom and would stay up until 3 a.m. doing loads of laundry. She says she thought she’d only take it once.
“I couldn’t stop,” she said. “I could not stop taking them. I’d say I’m just going to take them one more time.”
When she ran out she resorted to tricking the family doctor into writing more prescriptions.
“I would call and say we lost them. I would call and say that dose isn’t right so can we try a different dose,” said Degree. “[I was trying] every trick in the book.”
Addiction doctors say the situation is getting out of control.
“This is a significant problem,” said Dr. Marvin Seppala, chief medical officer at Hazelden, an addiction treatment facility. “We’ve got an increase in women using drugs like Adderall ending up in our treatment programs. … We know from a medical perspective it’s dangerous and can cause seizures, strokes, heart attacks, even death.”
Adderall sent Degree, who admits she struggled with addiction issues all of her life, down a dangerous path. When she decided she could no longer fool her doctor she switched from Adderall to meth. She lost her business and she says she nearly lost her kids.
She is now clean and has this simple advice for any mom considering taking Adderall, “don’t.”
“It’s pretty addictive,” said Degree. “It can happen to anybody.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ben Tinker, CNN
Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
Assil Frayha, CNN
Jacqueline Howard, CNN