ADHD Medication Misuse Common in Schools, Study Finds
High Prescription Rates Linked to Higher Misuse Rates
A recent study has found that schools in the United States with high rates of students taking ADHD medication also have high rates of students misusing the drugs. The study analyzed data from over 3,300 middle and high schools and found that at certain schools, over a quarter of students admitted to misusing prescription stimulant medications in the past year. The problem was more prevalent at schools where a high percentage of students had legitimate stimulant prescriptions, indicating that some students were sharing their medication with their peers.
ADHD Medications Can Help, but Also Commonly Abused
ADHD medications such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta are commonly used to help children with ADHD focus and do better in school. However, they are also commonly abused by students who get pills from their friends with prescriptions. The drugs can present a risk of overdose and side effects like irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperature, and seizures. Over time, it can also lead to a substance use disorder.
Parents and Schools Need to Be Proactive
The study’s lead author, Sean Esteban McCabe, stressed that no one is saying the medications should be withheld from children who need them. However, parents and schools need to be proactive in educating children about the risks of sharing medication and how to handle pressure from peers. Parents can store their children’s medication in a lockbox and consider counting their pills to pick up on any medication sharing or misuse. Any sustained changes in a child’s behavior, relationships, sleep or eating habits could be signs of stimulant abuse.
The findings of this study highlight the need for increased awareness and education around ADHD medication misuse in schools. Parents and schools can play a crucial role in preventing misuse by educating children about the risks and providing support for those who need it.