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More High School Students Using ADHD Drugs to Get Better Grades


A growing number of high school students are using attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs, such as Adderall and Ritalin, to help them get better grades, The New York Times reports. Teens get them from friends, buy them from student dealers, or pretend to have ADHD in order to get prescriptions.

Gary Boggs, a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), told the newspaper it is a nationwide problem.

Prescription stimulant drugs being abused by teens also include Vyvanse and Focalin. The DEA considers these drugs Class II controlled substances, along with cocaine and morphine, because of their high potential for addiction. Many teenagers do not understand that giving a friend a prescription stimulant pill is legally considered the same as selling it, and can result in a felony prosecution, the article notes.

These medications can calm people with ADHD, but they can provide energy and focus for people without the disorder. Abusing these drugs can lead to mood swings and depression, heart irregularities and extreme exhaustion or even psychosis during withdrawal, according to medical experts. There is little evidence about the long-term effects of young people abusing these stimulants.

According to drug counselors, some teenagers move from abusing stimulants to painkillers and sleeping pills.

Paul L. Hokemeyer, a family therapist at Caron Treatment Centers in Manhattan, told the newspaper, “Children have prefrontal cortexes that are not fully developed, and we’re changing the chemistry of the brain. That’s what these drugs do. It’s one thing if you have a real deficiency — the medicine is really important to those people — but not if your deficiency is not getting into Brown.”

6 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of zohra
    zohra / December 11, 2012 at 10:39 am

    i wonder why students are using drugs at school but now i can see

  2. Avatar of Ronda
    Ronda / June 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    I believe it is true that even those without ADD can improve grades by taking a stimulant. I have dyslexia and can read faster and better when taking stimulants. I also believe it helps students focus and spend more hours studying. That is reason enough.

  3. Joshua / June 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    is there any evidence that these drugs actually help students without ADD get better grades, or is is just recreational drug use? because lacking that we could assign the better grades motive to anyone taking a stimulant – which would make meth users much more sympathetic.

  4. perryrants / June 11, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    better grades? highly unlikely!

  5. Robert Hall / June 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    The article did contain great information. Years from now, we’ll have more data showing how ADHD drug abuse leads to abuse of illiciti drugs (just as we’ve seen the link between Rx drug abuse and heroin). But when dealing with teens or TV reporters, for that matter ;-), the headline is going to frame the issue. How many times have you seen a news anchor look into the camera and say something like, “Turns out, beer is good for you. A new study shows….”

  6. Lisa Frederiksen - / June 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Equally alarming is the pressure these students are feeling to succeed at all costs — a pressure that causes them to view using these kinds of drugs as necessary and worth the risk.

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