Parents, is your teen spending more time than usual doing homework or studying for tests? Does he or she seem exceptionally worried about grades? If so, you may want to have a talk about "study drugs" – prescription medications traditionally used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In a recent survey conducted by the University of Michigan, one out of ten 10th graders and one in eight 12th graders reported that they had used study drugs. In the same poll, however, only 1 in 100 parents of 13-17 year olds said that they believed that their child had used study drugs.
The abuse of ADHD medications has been on the rise in recent years due to greater competition in advanced high school courses and college admissions. Students without prescriptions take stimulants to stay awake longer and to focus on their homework and academic assignments. Teens may easily obtain the drugs from peers and classmates.
There is no scientific evidence to support the belief that stimulant use has any effect on academic performance. They do, however, pose other health risks.
"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," said Dr. Matthew Davis, director of the poll, in an interview with the Ann Arbor Journal.
The researchers suggested that the disconnect between the responses of the teens and their parents may be the result of parents not knowing the signs of study drug abuse. The subtleties of staying up late and studying more are less obvious than effects caused by harder drugs like cocaine.
Your child's academic success is important, but so is his or her physical and mental health. All parents should prioritize having a discussion about study drug abuse. If you need professional help, Intervention Services can schedule an experienced drug abuse interventionist to help your teen before it is too late.
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