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Methylphenidate and amphetamine are central nervous system stimulants that are prescribed for children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. These kids have abnormally high levels of activity and/or difficulty concentrating. Medications, when taken as prescribed, have a calming effect on hyperactive children and better enable them to focus on their daily tasks.|
Unfortunately, these medications are sought after by people who want them for their psychoactive effects: to get high, lose weight, stay awake for extended periods of time, to study, party, or to mix with alcohol or other drugs in order to enhance their effects.
Methylphenidate and amphetamine can be abused orally or the tablets can be crushed and snorted. They can also be dissolved in water and injected. The pattern of abuse is characterized by having to ingest more to get the same effect, frequent episodes of binge use followed by severe depression, and the overpowering desire to continue using these drugs despite the serious health and social consequences (Stimulant Abuse by School Age Children).
While these medications (Ritalin, Dexedrine, and Adderall) benefit many children, they have a great potential for abuse. Reports of methylphenidate and amphetamine misuse/abuse among adolescents and young adults are very disturbing. Adolescents don’t have to visit the local drug dealer to acquire these drugs – they can “score” them directly from their friends or classmates at school.
A 2002 study by Indiana University surveyed 44,500 high school students and found that nearly 7 percent of the students reported having used methylphenidate illicitly at least once, and 2.5 percent reported using it monthly or more often (Abuse of Stimulants).
Information from doctors, parents, schools, adolescent treatment centers, and law enforcement data suggests that teens and pre-teens who are using these stimulant drugs obtained them from other children who have been prescribed these medications for ADHD. These kids are giving and/or selling their ADHD medication to friends and classmates.
Reports show that students have been discovered taking medication from teachers’ desks where medication is being improperly stored. Students have been given their medication in the school clinic, only to leave the room and hand their medication over to a classmate waiting in the hallway. Students also leave home with a month’s supply of medication and arrive at school with only a few tablets, having distributed the other pills to friends along the way. Schools have reported thefts where the medication supplies have been taken from the nursing office. Frequently supplies are kept in unlocked desks and a variety of untrained people are given the task of dispensing the medication to students (Stimulant Abuse by School Age Children).
The following suggestions can better help to keep abuse from occurring: unused medication should be removed from the school by a parent or other responsible adult; parent’s should inquire as to the storage and safekeeping of medications at school and make sure that they are secured in a locked room; an inventory and accountability system for control should be in place; and one person (preferably the school nurse) should maintain primary control of the medication supply. Parent’s can be of great help in helping to control the abuse of prescription stimulant drugs at their children’s schools.
“Abuse of Stimulants” Drug Enforcement Administration. 2004. 01 Oct. 2005
“Stimulant Abuse by School Age Children” NIDA. 2005 30 Sept. 2005
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