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Kids Who Misuse ADHD Drugs

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 29 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Adhd Drugs Medicines Medications

The benefits of ADHD drugs are well known but what is also known is that their use comes with risks. These risks and side-effects occur under normal, prescribed use of ADHD drugs.

But what happens if someone misuses ADHD drugs? Recent studies in this area show there are not only potentially dangerous consequences but that the problem is a growing one – much bigger than we might think.

Who Misuses ADHD Drugs?

There are generally two kinds of people misusing ADHD drugs. There are those who have ADHD and are in possession of a valid prescription for the use of ADHD medications. Then, there are those who are not diagnosed with ADHD and obtain them illegally for recreational use.

Recreational Users

This recreational use may be to get high and party or it may be to help a person stay awake. Contrary to popular belief though, it is not just young people and party goers who use ADHD drugs illegally. Some people may be using it to stay awake to study for an exam. Others are working professionals who struggle through an excessively long week of work and feel they need help managing their workload.

One recent study found that up to a quarter of undergraduate students are thought to be using stimulants meant for those with ADHD. Another study found that even school pupils in their teenage years are using it to get high or get through exams. Sometimes, use begins for a purpose such as exams but then the user enjoys the experience, becomes hooked and begins to use it recreationally.

How are ADHD Drugs Acquired?

Perhaps even more surprising is that studies show it is relatively easy to obtain the drugs. Participants in studies have been surveyed and they report that all they need to do is ask another student and they can usually purchase the pills or be directed to someone else who can sell them.

Some researchers worry that this points to a growing problem of ADHD drugs being prescribed too easily and for conditions it may not even help – known as off-label use. Instead, they are sold for profit to students, professionals or those wanting to get high by abusing the medications.

Managing Stress in Healthy Ways

At an even deeper level, it points to the pressure for students and professionals to excel. Researchers think that the misuse of ADHD drugs by such people is a sign that we need to help students and professionals find healthy, long-term ways to cope with their work and the pressures of today.

Legitimate Prescriptions

Although surveys have pointed out that it is perhaps too easy to obtain a prescription and be diagnosed with ADHD, there are those who do legitimately receive the drugs. Unfortunately, they may choose to overuse the drugs for the same reasons as non-ADHD sufferers who misuse the drugs.

People with ADHD who misuse their prescription medicines can potentially suffer even more ill effects. This is because they also have the underlying condition of ADHD to contend with, plus the effect of medication overuse. Their inability to cope can also exacerbate ADHD symptoms, making it even more difficult to handle stress and anxiety along with impulsive actions and concentration.

Getting Help for ADHD Drug Misuse

If you think you or someone you know may have a problem misusing ADHD drugs, then speak to a doctor or counsellor. You or that person may need both physical and emotional support to stop taking the drugs and deal with any withdrawal symptoms.

At the same time, it is important to learn healthy ways to cope with stress and with ADHD if present. ADHD medications have many benefits but they must be used properly and by people who truly need them.

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