Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

ADHD Meds Under the Gun at Many Colleges

The problem of abuse of ADHD medications like Adderall among high school and college students is becoming such a huge issue that a number of colleges are addressing stimulant medication abuse proactively, according to the New York Times. So many students are learning which symptoms they have to fake in order to get a prescription that will provide them a stimulant boost—and ultimately, a stimulant addiction—that dependence upon ADHD medications are skyrocketing. And so are the negative effects of abuse of the drugs.

The Problem With ADHD Medication Abuse

When kids who don’t need Adderall, Vyvanse, and other ADHD medications take the pills, they experience a stimulant effect. Many use this to help them to complete projects, stay up late to study for tests, and manage schedules that include work, school, and extracurricular activities. A study done by the National Institutes of Health found that about 34 percent of students had used prescription ADHD medications to get them through academically stressful periods.

Unfortunately, the effects of utilizing these medications for this purpose include:

  • Stimulant addiction
  • Panic attacks
  • Irregular heartbeat and other heart problems
  • Death, if mixed with alcohol or other drugs

What Colleges Are Doing to Address the Problem

Some schools are asking students to sign a contract that says they will not share their pills with others, sell them or in any way distribute them, or abuse their medications when they receive a diagnosis of ADHD or get a prescription for the medications. Other schools do not allow their doctors to diagnose ADHD in students while others do not allow their doctors to prescribe stimulant ADHD medications. Still others require their doctors to call the parents of the student in order to confirm the symptoms described by the student and get a full medical history.

Dr. Jon Porter is the director of Medical, Counseling, and Psychiatry Services at the University of Vermont. He said, “We get complaints that you’re making it hard to get treatment. There’s some truth to that. The counterweight is these prescriptions can be abused at a high rate, and we’re not willing to be a part of that and end up with kids sick or dead.”

What Parents Can Do

Many kids start abusing stimulant medications prescribed for ADHD during their high school years. If they are prescribed the drug, they may find that their body responds differently to the medication over time as they grow and opt to keep taking the medication. Others take their friends’ medications or buy them in order to study harder or longer. Though it may not sound like a bad thing, the mental health and physical effects can be devastating; a good grade isn’t worth the toll the pill takes on the mind and body.

Call us at Muir Wood today to learn more about how you can help your son stop abusing prescription drugs of all kinds.