Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

ADHD Medications and Teen Drug Addiction Risk

Many scientists once believed in a direct correlation between the intake of ADHD medications as a child and the use of illicit drugs later in life. With the continual rise in the number of American children who are diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed medications as a result, a new report that says that the aforementioned correlation between ADHD medication use and illicit drugs may not be present is welcome news to parents.

The Current Research

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles compiled and examined previous studies on the use of ADHD medications during childhood and subsequent risk for abusing illicit drugs. The results of the university’s analysis indicate no significant correlation.

Steve S. Lee was the lead researcher on the study. He said that, for the purpose of this study, his research team only knew if a child had taken ADHD medications within his lifetime, but the team was unaware of the length of time, age, and other variables surrounding the medication intake.

Said Lee, “For any particular child, parents should consult with the prescribing physician about potential side effects and long-term risks. … Saying that all parents need not be concerned about the use of stimulant medication for their children is an overstatement; parents should have the conversation with the physician. As with other medications, there are potential side effects, and the patient should be carefully evaluated to, for example, determine the proper dosage.”

Teenagers and the Dangers of ADHD Medication Abuse

While some parents may worry about future complications arising from the use of ADHD medications during childhood, a more present danger may be lurking. Most parents are blissfully unaware of a new trend in prescription drug abuse: teenagers and college students alike are abusing ADHD medication for a so-called “study-boost.” Researchers have long ago proven that this abuse of drugs does not have a positive long-term effect on grades or academic performance, but students continue to attempt this dangerous and addictive study method.

According to Health Day News, 1 in 10 teens “admits to using a prescription stimulant or amphetamine to boost their performance in school” and is “taking so-called study drugs such as Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, and Vyvanse, which are intended to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.” The negative health consequences of this type of abuse are enormous and include risk of:

  • Addiction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disruption
  • Cardiac incidents
  • Overdose

Drug abuse of any kind in your teen is problematic, and if you believe that he or she is abusing prescription drugs, don’t wait to help them understand the dangers and start making better choices. At Muir Wood, we can help. Call now for more information about our teen-specific rehabilitation program here in Sonoma County.