ADHD Medication Being Abused By Students At Record High Rates

Reports show white students or students whose parents possess higher education levels are misusing ADHD medication by overtaking the recommended amount, taking ADHD medication without having a prescription, and for non-medicinal uses.

By Iqra Butt | Published

ADHD medication

Over the years, the number of students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or, ADHD, has risen significantly. ADHD medication is an option to help with the symptoms. Now, these medications are being misused amongst students

People with ADHD suffer from symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity according to National Health Services. Inattention can manifest as difficulty staying focused on tasks or forgetfulness. Hyperactivity may result in behaviors such as restlessness, fidgeting, and excessive talking while impulsivity may result in acting without thinking or interrupting others. 

ADHD can affect an individual’s academic performance, social relationships, and daily functioning. To help students with ADHD manage the symptoms, medication such as Adderall, Desoxyn, and Ritalin are prescribed. These ADHD medications help by increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which can improve attention and reduce impulsivity and hyperactivity.

Many students misuse the drug. This can include behaviors such as overtaking the recommended amount, taking ADHD medication without having a prescription, and non-medicinal uses. This misuse has been found to have increased.

A study published on Jama Network surveyed schools for potential misuse from 2005 to 2020. Of the surveyed schools, findings showed that now more than in previous years students are misusing ADHD medication at higher rates. More specifically, schools with the highest rates of students being treated for ADHD displayed higher misuse rates, up to 36 percent more.

The study also had some other interesting findings. Schools where students reported increased binge drinking were also found to have higher rates of ADHD medication misuse. Moreover, schools with more white students or students whose parents possess higher education levels were also reported to have higher misuse rates. 

Experts are saying these findings are alarming. One of the authors of the study, Sean McCabe, said it should be a “major wake-up call”, according to NBC News. His statement outlines the gravity and direness of the situation.

Misuse of ADHD medication can have negative effects on health. Misusing ADHD medication can increase the heart rate and blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular problems such as heart attack or stroke. It can also interfere with sleep and lead to insomnia, states the NCBI, which can have negative effects on physical and mental health.

It’s important to keep in mind ADHD medication and other prescription stimulants are entirely safe if used properly. In fact, these medications are used by millions of people around the world daily. However, McCabe notes that it’s important to curb the misuse of ADHD medication.

So why are students misusing these medications? Dr.Robert Bassett works at the Poison Control Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as the associate medical director and has an idea as to why. He proposes that students may have a misconception that ADHD medication can help with academic performance or studying, according to NBC News.

This rising misuse of ADHD medication may continue to grow with that misconception. Misuse could also grow seeing as there are increased rates of depression and anxiety according to the CDC. With increasing societal or academic pressure, students may self-medicate more often with ADHD medication.  
If you or someone you know experience symptoms that could be ADHD, it’s important to consult with a doctor. Furthermore, if you or someone you know shows tendencies of medication misuse, it is important to understand the potential risks. It’s essential that these situations be addressed with the appropriate privacy and professionalism they deserve.