Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ADHD Medications Being Misused as Study Aid

While parents and school personnel educate and warn teenagers about the perils of alcohol and illicit-drug use, another troubling trend is rapidly taking hold in America's high schools, particularly the most academically competitve ones. In an extensive report published earlier this week, the New York Times chronicled what appears to be an epidemic of use of stimulant medications as study aids. While medications such as Adderall, Vyvanse, and Focalin help youngsters with ADHD to calm down and focus, these prescription stimulants are routinely used by students without the disorder to study long hours, enhance their test performance, and ultimately obtain the grades that will get them into prestige colleges.

Interviews with about 40 high school students, some of whom were quoted in the article using just first names, revealed students have no trouble buying illicit supplies of the medications, often lying to parents, family physicians, and psychiatrists to obtain them. One student in suburban Philadelphia told the Times "I often lie to my psychiatrist—I expressed feelings I didn't really have, knowing the consequences of it. I tell the doctor, 'I find myself very distracted, and I feel this really deep pain inside, like I'm anxious all the time." He told the reporter, "Generally, if you keep playing the angsty-teen role, you'll get something good."

While some of the interviewed students said as many as one-third of their classmates use stimulants to study, little study has been done of the extent of the problem. The federal government's Monitoring the Future survey failed to find an increase in use of these drugs since the 1990s.

Read more about use of stimulant drugs in Psychiatric News here and here.

(image: olly/Shutterstock.com)


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