ADHD Stimulant Medication Abuse and Misuse Among U.S. Teens
Over the last decade, a new epidemic has risen in America regarding the sustained trend in teens abusing and misusing stimulant drugs prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), specifically Ritalin and Adderall. There has been an increase in the number of teens diagnosed with ADHD and practitioners prescribing stimulants as treatment. These drugs are known in the teen community as the so-called “study drug”. An alarming high percentage of teens that are not diagnosed with ADHD are using this drug in attempt to achieve academic success as well as abusing it for recreational purposes. Due to the increase in teens being diagnosed with ADHD and being prescribed stimulants, the availability of ADHD stimulants has increased and are being abused and misused by other teens. In addition, caregiver’s lax attitudes as well as not supporting school safety prescription policies, has contributed to this disturbing trend in teens misusing and abusing the so-called “Study Drug”.
U.S. Heath News reported (2013) that 6.4 million children ages 4 to 17 have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Since 2007, the utilization of stimulant medication to treat ADHD has jumped 11% nationally as a whole. It was also reported that the U.S. spends more on prescription drugs to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder than it does for all but six other medical conditions (U.S. News Health, 2013). The number of ADHD diagnosed teens prescribed stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall, will be increasing over time as the new guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics now recognizes physicians prescribing ADHD stimulant medications to children as young as 4 years old.
Nationwide, teens have been taking advantage of misusing and abusing the new “Study Drug”, stimulants for ADHD, that is readily available in middle school and high school. Their friends that are diagnosed with ADHD are being prescribed the “Study Drug” as treatment for their ADHD diagnosis. For instance, Brown University’s medical journal (2009) reported that the prescription abuse and misuse rates in teens ages 13-19 years of age for stimulant ADHD medication had increased during the time period of 1998-2005, specifically 133% for amphetamine products (Adderall), 52% for Ritalin and 80% for both drugs together (Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, 2009). Teens nationwide believe that stimulants, particularly Ritalin and Adderall, will help them study better, improve their grades in school and to stay alert and awake for “all nighter” study cram sessions for SAT/ACT college entrance exams. Adelaid Robb, M.D. stated in the NAMI Beginnings medical journal (2008) “16-29% of teenagers and young adults with ADHD are approached to give, sell or trade their ADHD medications” (Robb, 2008, p.12). The teens that are given the ADHD stimulant medications will use it as a “study drug”,...