When it Comes to Medicine – Teach Your Kids NOT to Share!

The rates of Adderall misuse and abuse among high school seniors remains unacceptably high. The 2016 national Monitoring the Future survey reports that the prescription stimulant Adderall® remains the second most abused drug by high school seniors. The non-medical use of Adderall® among American high school seniors has been steadily increasing since 2009 when abuse rates were at 5.4 percent. Among 12th graders, past year Adderall® abuse increased to 6.2 percent in 2016.

Stimulants are often prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). Stimulants work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. These medications have a paradoxically calming and “focusing” effect on individuals with ADD/ADHD.

Prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin® or Adderall®, are sometimes used by students who do not have a prescription or are used in ways that are inconsistent with the prescribing physician’s instructions (e.g., extremely high doses, snorting, injecting). This is called nonmedical use. Typically the reason students have for using prescription stimulants non-medically is they think these drugs will help them study more effectively and get better grades. Stimulants are also abused by youth to facilitate weight loss, increase wakefulness, and to get “high.”

ADHD medications, when properly prescribed and used, can be of enormous benefit to those suffering from ADHD.  However, as with any other medication they can pose serious risks – particularly when misused. Many teens mistakenly believe prescription drugs are safe because they were prescribed by a doctor and such medications can be easily “shared” among friends.

Teens (ages 12-17) who abuse stimulants are more likely to engage in other delinquent behaviors such as fighting or selling drugs, and are more likely to experience a major depressive episode.  When abused, stimulants can increase blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and decrease sleep and appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and its consequences. Repeated use of stimulants can lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia. At high doses, they can lead to serious cardiovascular complications, including stroke.

This information indicates that we need to do a better job educating youth that the misuse of prescription medications is extremely dangerous. Kids need to hear from parents that using someone else’s prescription drugs – or sharing their own – is dangerous, illegal and unacceptable. We also need to reinforce that prescription drugs are just as dangerous as getting high on illegal street drugs.   Keep kids safe—monitor your prescription medications closely and discuss the risks of non-medical use of prescription drugs with your children today.

People of all ages are affected by prescription drug misuse and abuse. For more information visit our website at www.cacfayettecounty.org/fcpc.

Source: FDA, NIDA