Recent studies have shown a disturbing rise in the misuse of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications among middle and high school students.
The reasons behind stimulant abuse may include pressure to excel academically or in sports, or a general desire to increase focus.
There are several dangers associated with ADHD drug abuse including an increased risk of seizures, severe anxiety, coma, and death.
An addiction treatment program can provide evidence-based services designed specifically for the needs of adolescents facing stimulant abuse.
Current Trends In ADHD Drug Abuse Among Middle And High School Students
A new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicates that up to 25% of middle and high school students are engaging in prescription stimulant abuse.
The research also found the following:
- In schools with 12% or more students treated with ADHD drugs, nearly 8% of students reported misusing their prescriptions.
- Schools with higher ADHD misuse featured a higher proportion of educated parents, more white students, and medium levels of binge drinking.
- Schools with the highest rates of stimulant therapy for ADHD had a 36% higher risk of prescription drug misuse.
Common stimulants of abuse include Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine.
Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has published that approximately 6.4% of high school seniors have used nonmedical prescription stimulants in the last year.
These statistics highlight the urgency of addressing this issue and understanding the underlying causes.
Why Students Misuse ADHD Medications
Middle and high school students may abuse ADHD drugs for a variety of reasons.
The intense pressure to achieve academic success is a driver behind ADHD medication misuse.
Students may believe that these medications can enhance their cognitive abilities and focus, and therefore boost academic performance.
Perform Better In Sports
Some athletes resort to misusing ADHD medications in the hope of gaining a competitive edge in sports.
They believe that stimulants can improve focus and overall performance. This practice poses significant health risks.
Increased Focus And Mental Sharpness
Students without ADHD might wrongly assume that stimulant drugs can boost their concentration and cognitive skills.
The desire for increased focus and mental sharpness is another strong motivator for ADHD medication misuse.
Another misconception surrounding ADHD medications is their potential for weight loss. Some students misuse drugs with the false belief that they can aid in shedding pounds.
Using stimulants for weight loss can lead to serious health complications including the development of a substance use disorder (SUD).
Dangers Of Abusing ADHD Drugs
Below are some of the short-term and long-term dangers of ADHD medication abuse.
Short-Term Health Effects
The misuse of ADHD medications can have immediate adverse effects on the body.
Stimulants can cause:
- increased heart rate
- high blood pressure
- loss of appetite
Long-Term Health Effects
Over time, ADHD drug abuse can lead to severe long-term health consequences. People may develop a dependence on these medications, leading to addiction.
Additionally, the misuse of stimulants can cause cardiovascular problems such as irregular heart rhythms and psychiatric issues such as anxiety, mood disorders, and more.
Other Notable Dangers
Stimulant drug availability in schools increases the risk of passing along counterfeit pills that may be laced with deadly substances such as fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that is commonly cut into other drugs to increase their euphoric effects and increase profit margins for drug dealers.
The dangers of fentanyl include severe respiratory depression, confusion, low blood pressure, and overdose death.
How To Reduce Stimulant Misuse Among Adolescents
Stimulant abuse is a growing problem among adolescents, but there are steps that people can take to curb this trend.
School Policies To Reduce ADHD Drug Abuse
Educational institutions play a crucial role in addressing ADHD medication misuse. Implementing and enforcing strict policies is essential.
Schools can educate students about the risks, start awareness campaigns, and establish penalties for drug misuse.
What Parents And Guardians Can Do
Parents and guardians play a vital role as well. Parents can discuss the risks associated with misusing these drugs and provide guidance on healthy study habits.
If prescription medications are in the home, parents can ensure that they are stored securely and monitored to prevent access.
Treatment Services For Stimulant Addiction
There are a number of effective, evidence-based addiction treatment options for stimulant abuse.
Substance abuse treatment may include:
- medical detox
- short-term or long-term residential treatment
- psychiatric services
- dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring disorders
- behavioral therapy
Many treatment facilities will also feature drug rehab programs for teens. These types of recovery programs are geared toward the specific needs of adolescents with addiction.
Find An Addiction Treatment Program Today
Reach out to AddictionResource.net today for more useful information about drug abuse treatment programs.
Published on May 24, 2023
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- American Psychological Association
- CNN Health
- JAMA Network
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)