The misuse of prescription drugs has become a serious problem in the United States. In many situations a prescription is written for a legitimate health problem, it’s used for a time and then left forgotten in a medicine cabinet.
Teens raid their parents’ and other relatives’ medicine cabinets to pilfer prescription drugs and the drugs are taken to parties where they’re mixed in combination with various other drugs. This practice can be dangerous, even deadly.
While pain medications are a common choice, another drug readily available is Adderall, which is prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This stimulant can allow students to focus and avoid sleep for days in an effort to work on a task or study. However, there are dangerous side effects, including heart palpitations and painful urination.
Along with improved academic performance, Adderall can also improve athletic performance. A recent study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs provides an analysis of Adderall use among adolescent athletes.
The researchers accessed data from the Monitoring the Future survey that gathered information from 8th and 10th graders in 2010 and 2011. The survey included 21,137 teens and measured the past-year non-medical use of the drug and used logistic regression analysis to determine if there was a connection between the level of involvement in competitive sports and nonmedical Adderall use.
The results showed that Adderall use was more pervasive in certain sports and there were differences between the genders. Males that played lacrosse and males that wrestled were more likely to use the drug, while females did not show any patterns of use based on particular sports.
The study’s findings showed that certain sports, particularly those involving a high level of contact, may lead to pressure among males to improve performance through a stimulant like Adderall.
How Parent’s Can Help
Parents may not realize the stress that their children deal with as they compete for grades and placement on sports teams. In many cases, the teen may feel that parental expectations are adding to their stress, so a parents’ reassurance may help them avoid the danger of drug use.
Parents can help their children avoid the misuse of Adderall and other prescription drugs by talking regularly about the pressures of school and extracurricular activities, including sports. They can also work to maintain some level of contact with teachers and coaches to help ensure that their teen is exhibiting healthy behaviors related to school, sports and extracurricular activities.
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02 Sep 2013
For some, college was a time for sleeping in and goofing off. For others, memories of college are associated with stress as students worked to achieve good grades while juggling intense academic requirements, extracurricular activities and relationships with a new level of personal responsibility.
The stakes are high. Students understand that their grades will help them secure a good job with financial security. Competition can be fierce to not only be accepted into but also remain in specialty colleges within the university that teach skills to teachers, therapists, accountants and engineers.
“Smart Drugs” Not so Smart
Recently, ABC affiliate 13WHAM of Rochester, New York, highlighted one way that students choose to handle the pressure – misusing prescription stimulants to increase focus and eliminate the need for sleep, known as “smart drugs.”
Adderall is just one brand name drug that students abuse as a study aid. Prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the drug is so widely issued by doctors that students find it relatively easy to obtain as friends may be willing to sell their extra pills.
A study published in The Addiction Journal indicated that the problem is becoming widespread. One in four college students indicate they have used pills to get through an exam or other stressful academic situation.
The 13WHAM story profiles an individual under the pseudonym of Steve who regularly uses stimulants to meet academic requirements. He said the medication increases focus and avoid sleeping, allowing for a 72-hour straight study session he did when taking 60 milligrams of Adderall, which paid off with good grades.
Adderall Abuse & Risks
Adderall abuse is becoming more common and the effects of the drug can lead to increased medical interventions and the need for emergency care.
Students are unaware of or underestimate the risks associated with the misuse of prescription drugs. They may believe that prescription drugs are somehow safer than street drugs or that there isn’t a risk of mixing drugs with other medications. Experts, on the other hand, warn that the drugs can be extremely dangerous, with adverse reactions including stroke, heart attack and psychotic episodes.
13WHAM reported that university health center doctors were seeing increased attempts by students to get prescriptions for stimulants as finals approached. The physicians said that while they are generally able to help students who have a diagnosis for ADHD, it takes more than one exam session to determine whether a student is abusing stimulants.
What Parents Can Do
Parents should take time to talk to their college-age children about the risks of using stimulants. They can also speak openly about their opinions and rules related to substance use. While students enjoy an increased level of freedom at college, many are still receptive to their parents’ viewpoint while they are receiving support, both financial and otherwise.
While parents may doubt their influence, particularly after their teen has left home to pursue a degree, studies show that parents play an important role. Teens who abstain from substance use repeatedly indicate that their parents were influential in helping them decide not to use substances.
Parents can also be a source of support for their college-age child as they face the intense pressure and competition to succeed in school. Keeping an open conversation about the challenges and expectations involved with getting a degree may help a student avoid making poor decisions related to stress management.