Study Drugs: Parents Just Don't Get It
May 21, 2013

Parents Need To Know More About Study Drug Use In Teens

[ Watch the Video: One in Ten Teens Using Study Drugs ]

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

While the signs and dangers of recreational drug use such as painkillers or LSD are well-known to teens and their parents, a new survey shows the disconnect between parents and their kids when it comes to the use of so-called study drugs.

Study drugs are actually medications developed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), such as Adderall and Ritalin. Many students take them in the belief that the drugs will help them cram for a test or complete a term paper.

“Taking these medications when they are not prescribed for you can lead to acute exhaustion, abnormal heart rhythms and even confusion and psychosis if the teens get addicted and go into withdrawal,” warned Dr. Matthew M. Davis, chief medical officer at the University of Michigan and director of the C.S. Mott Children´s Hospital National Poll on Children´s Health.

According to the poll´s results, 1 percent of parents said they believed their teen used a study drug to gain an academic advantage at school. However, another University of Michigan-backed survey found that 10 percent of high school sophomores and 12 percent of high school seniors admit to using a prescription amphetamine or other stimulant not prescribed by their doctor.

“What we found in this poll is a clear mismatch between what parents believe and what their kids are reporting,” Davis said. “But even though parents may not be recognizing these behaviors in their own kids, this poll also showed that one-half of the parents say they are very concerned about this abuse in their communities.”

When broken down by ethnicity, 54 percent of white parents said they are “very concerned,” with study drug abuse, while just less than 40 percent African-American or Latino parents admitted to the same level of concern.

The poll also found that only 27 percent of parents said they have discussed using study drugs with their teens. Black parents, at 41 percent, were more likely to have discussed this issue with their teens, while whites, 27 percent, and Latino parents, 17 percent, were less likely.

Parents overwhelmingly approved of additional measures designed to stop the abuse of study drugs in schools. Over 75 percent said they support school policies that attempt to curb the abuse in middle and high schools. More than three-quarters of parents said schools should be required to educate their kids on the dangers of ADHD medication abuse.

“If we are going to make a dent in this problem, and truly reduce the abuse of these drugs, we need parents, educators, health care professionals and all who interact with teens to be more proactive about discussing the issue,” Davis said.

To prevent the dispensation of ADHD medications in hallways or classrooms, 79 percent of parents in the poll said schools should require that ADHD medications be kept in the school´s nurse´s office or other secure location.

“We know teens may be sharing drugs or spreading the word that these medications can give their grades a boost,” Davis said. “But the bottom line is that these prescription medications are drugs, and teens who use them without a prescription are taking a serious risk with their health.”