Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a commonly diagnosed disorder in young people, especially young boys. Kids with ADHD have a real struggle to face. They have a hard time controlling their impulses. They don’t always behave in socially appropriate ways. They are hyper and can’t sit still or focus, listen to directions or concentrate. Medications for ADHD can be a big help. Although it may seem counterintuitive, these drugs are stimulants and they help a child focus and control impulses. The bad news is that according to statistics on substance abuse, teens are exploiting these drugs for just those reasons.
ADHD is treated not only with behavioral interventions, but also with medications. Drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta and others are stimulants. They boost levels of brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, in order to help children with ADHD pay attention, focus, concentrate on one task at a time and control impulses and hyperactivity. There are some possible side effects and risks of taking these drugs, but overall they help most children who struggle with ADHD. For many it takes a few tries to get the optimum dose, but most take the medication and see improvement.
Abusing ADHD Medications
The truth about Adderall and other ADHD medications is that they are amphetamines, known in the illicit drug world as speed. Although the proper dose of these drugs in a child with ADHD can improve symptoms greatly, when abused they can cause a number of problems. There are a couple of different motivations a teen might have for seeking out and using someone else’s ADHD medication. One reason is to use it as a study aid. Because ADHD medications like Adderall help patients focus and concentrate, teens who feel under pressure to get good grades might use it to stay awake longer and to be able to focus for longer periods of time. Both high school students and college students do this. In fact, teenage drug use statistics tell us that nearly eight percent of high school students have abused Adderall. This fact doesn’t even include other brands of ADHD stimulants. Another reason teens abuse ADHD drugs is simply to get a high.
The Dangers of Abusing ADHD Medications
Whatever a teen’s motivations are for using ADHD drugs, the risks and dangers are the same. Stimulants cause the heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature to rise, sometimes to dangerous levels. They also decrease sleepiness and appetite. Insomnia and malnutrition are possible with stimulant abuse. Teens abusing these drugs can also become paranoid, aggressive or be at risk for heart attack or stroke. Teenage prescription drug abuse statistics paint a very clear picture. Teens are abusing ADHD stimulant medications. Motivations for doing so may vary, but the risks are always the same. If you have a teenager, especially one that feels pressure to do well academically, talk to her about stimulant abuse. Make sure she understands the risks and that you don’t want her to use them. Having this talk could prevent dangerous side effects, addiction and a need for treatment, or even worse problems.