Nearly a third of college students mistakenly think that using ADHD drugs can boost school performance, according to a survey of almost 7,300 college students. And 38 percent of the participants were unsure, according to study published earlier this year in the journal Addictive Behaviors. None of the study participants were diagnosed with ADHD.
What’s more, students who believed that stimulants improve school performance were 2.5 times more likely to abuse the drugs than their peers in the unsure group. And students who were “unsure” were about twice as likely to misuse stimulants as those who didn’t believe ADHD meds helped boost grades. Many young people are beginning to misuse these prescription substances in high school and it is even more common in the college years. Kids need to understand that these are highly addictive, mood and mind-altering chemicals that can have serious effects on anyone who misuses them. Those individuals that use a stimulant to increase performance will initially experience some increased energy and productivity however there is a rebound effect and over time these people often cannot function without the substance.
“When kids do not actually have ADHD, these drugs are not helpful for their school performance,” Dr. Jess Shatkin, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, told HealthDay News. And, he added, that misusing or abusing ADHD drugs comes with its fair share of risks, including:
- Altered heart rate and blood pressure
- Heightened anxiety
So what’s the solution? Experts say that beyond discussing the risk of medication sharing and misusing and abusing these drugs, parents should be mindful about how much pressure they put on their kids to succeed at school. In addition, he recommends talking to high school and college students about the following:
- Time management
- Dealing with stress
- Risks of medication sharing
“What do you do when you’re depressed? What do you do when you’re stressed? We often don’t have these conversations with kids,” Shatkin said. It is important we talk to our children about the potential dangers of these substances and help them develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress. Sometimes as parents we put too much pressure on our kids to perform in school without realizing the impact it is having on their quality of life. It is important to have healthy measures for performance and encourage young people to do their best and avoid resorting to the use of chemicals or other unhealthy coping mechanisms to demonstrate their self-worth or to satisfy us as parents.
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