What is nonmedical use of prescription stimulants?
Prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin® and Adderall®, are sometimes used by people who do not have a prescription for it or used in ways other than prescribed by a doctor (i.e. extremely high doses, snorting, injecting). Prescription stimulants are often abused for non-medical reasons. For example:
- For recreational purposes (i.e. to get high)
- Students may use prescription stimulants believing that they will increase concentration or help with studying/cramming for a test
Where do individuals get the prescription stimulants they use non-medically?
Many studies have shown that non-medically used prescription stimulants are obtained from a friend who has a prescription. Often, these friends will sell or give away their pills.
What are the health effects of taking prescription stimulants non-medically?
Taking a pill that's been prescribed for someone else's weight, symptoms, and body chemistry, or taking more than the right dose for your own body can be harmful. Examples include: uncontrollable mood changes, increased blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. When the effects wear off, extreme fatigue and depression could occur.
Repeated abuse of stimulants can cause:
- Increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
- Feelings of hostility and paranoia
- Increased risk for addiction
- Decreased appetite and sleep
What behaviors are associated with non-medical use of prescription stimulants?
- Excessive drinking and other drug use
- Lower GPA
- Skipping classes
- Attention difficulties
- Psychiatric distress or depressed mood
- Low perceived harmfulness of using prescription stimulants non-medically
What can parents do?
- Supervise their child's activities, know who their friends are and monitor their surroundings.
- Talk to their child about the risks of using prescription stimulants non-medically. Not getting enough sleep, skipping class, and partying through college while taking prescription stimulants non-medically to study and cram could be harmful in the long run.
- Do not condone or assist with the non-medical use of these drugs. This is a red flag for substance use.
- Recognize that sharing of prescription medications with intent to help your child get better grades can be harmful and is illegal.
- If you suspect your child might be non-medically using prescription stimulants, seek a comprehensive evaluation for your child to determine the presence and severity of substance use and/or other mental health problems, including ADHD, anxiety, and/or depression.
- Encourage healthy habits like getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and effective time management.
Alcohol and Drug Abuse
- Alcoholics Anonymous: 248-332-3521
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