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Stressed Students Risk Hair Loss by Turning to Adderall

AdderallStudents in their late teens and early 20s are fast becoming the demographic most likely to use the concentration-boosting drug Adderall, according to a new study in the US. What many of them almost certainly don’t know is that one of the drug’s possible side effects is hair loss.

Adderall is often prescribed in cases of ADHD and narcolepsy, but researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health found that many users are young adults who acquired the drug from a relative or friend.

Students stay up all night

In an article headlined “Adderall Misuse Rising Among Young Adults” on the Johns Hopkins website, the study’s co-author Ramin Mojtabai states that “In college especially, these drugs are used as study-aid medication to help students stay up all night and cram. Our sense is that a sizeable portion of those who use them believe these medications make them smarter and more capable of studying.”

In total, the results showed that 60 per cent of Adderall users were between 18 and 25.

Students Risk Hair Loss by Taking AdderallAdderall use was recently the subject of some controversy in the Electronic Sporting League for video gamers, where the eSports governing body said it would carry out anti-doping tests following reports that Adderall and similar drugs were being used by players. Some gamers felt it gave them extra energy and an edge.

As with many medications, a possible side-effect of Adderall is the hair loss condition Telogen Effluvium, which causes an increased shedding all over the scalp and leads to generally thinner-looking hair. While more common in women, it can also affect men, and when it continues for at least 12 months it is considered to be Chronic Telogen Effluvium, also known as Diffuse Thinning. An unfortunate effect of Telogen Effluvium is that it can also trigger or speed up Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss in any individual who has a genetic predisposition for the conditions.

Life as a hard-working student can often spell difficult times for hair – with or without the use of Adderall. In fact, the lifestyle choices of many students often add up to a scalp’s worst nightmare, with everything from smoking to alcohol to illegal drugs to late nights and not enough sleep all playing a part in overall hair health. Poor diet – frequently part and parcel of modern student life – can have a detrimental effect as well.

While no one is suggesting that too much partying is going to make you go bald, it is certainly not a stretch to state that burning the candle at both ends can trigger both Telogen Effluvium and Diffuse Hair Loss. Additionally, pressure to succeed in exams can all too easily lead to stress – and stress is thought to be a key trigger in the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata which leads to sudden patchy hair loss. This condition does sometimes clear itself up after several months, but equally it can linger and spread, sometimes affecting the whole scalp.

Hair loss diagnosis

Increasingly, more and more teenagers are becoming concerned about having a receding hairline with unprecedented levels going as far as to enquire about the drastic step of trying to get a hair transplant before they’ve even reached their 20th birthday. Even women, who have traditionally tended to display signs of genetic hair loss later in life than men, are starting to experience thinning hair from their 20’s on a far more frequent basis than ever before.

Treatment for the various hair loss conditions begins with a consultation so that a diagnosis can be made and a bespoke treatment course prescribed. If you’re a student and concerned about hair loss, it’s better to get an expert to give you some advice sooner rather than later – and you can put aside the notion that everyone else at the clinic will be men their 50s.

At Belgravia many of our clients are in their 20’s and want to take proactive or even preventative measures to deal with their hair loss. Although we do not offer student discounts, the initial consultation is free of charge and we offer a range of pricing options so there is usually something suitable for everyone.

Belgravia CentreThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.

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29th March, 2017 at 11:50 pm


I have been diagnosed with alopecia areta. Over the last 3-4 months i have developed around 11 or so bald spots. some the area size of the diameter of a pen or pencil. some well over the size of a 50 cent piece. I am 30 years old and have always had very strong thick hair with no history of baldness in my family. over the last few years I have grown a custom to popping adderall. not enough i would say to think i have a problem. my girl friend gets it and i go on adderall bingers where ill go 3 or 4 days on it. on top of that I had a really terrible diet. never had an appetite. lived off of red bulls and soda which dehydrates you so I understand how my problem started. I had a bad living situation it was very stressful I have only ever had 2 painic attacks in my life and both were at the end of a 4 day adderall kick. I can see how stressfull situations or a major stressfull event can be the trigger if you are suseptable to getting alopecia. when on adderall even if mentally you arent stressed out your body will still go through the physical effects of stress. heart beating in your chest, burning p all your natural energy. its not good. i stopped with the adderall, started steroid injections in my scalp and rub rogain 2 times a day in my bald spots. im ever so slowly starting to see hair regrowth although its coming in white. and the worst part is the way you see yourself in the mirror with these spots and fighting back letting it stress you out further because it will only make it worse and take longer for hair to grow back. anyway. just wanted to chime in incase anyone else has this happen to them and is looking for answers. just be patient. take care of yourself. carry a container of water around and stay hydrated and healthy and see a dermatologist. good luck!

6th April, 2017 at 12:56 pm

Sarah Belgravia

Hi DJ, thanks for sharing your story. You can read a response from one of Belgravia's senior hair loss specialists, here.

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