In the News: ADHD Drugs Won’t Boost Your Grades
The United States is a country obsessed with success. We are terrified that our kids will not be prepared for school and thus not prepared to succeed in the workforce and maintain our dominance in the global economy. As our standards rise, students are turning to the use of “study drugs” to give them an advantage, and pharmaceutical companies are profiting off the addictive nature of these drugs.
However, a number of research studies have been finding that in the long run, achievement scores, grade-point averages or the likelihood of repeating a grade generally aren’t any different in kids with ADHD who take medication compared with those who don’t. (Typically, studies take into account accommodations schools provide kids with ADHD, such as more time to take tests.)
A June study looked at medication usage and educational outcomes of nearly 4,000 students in Quebec over an average of 11 years and found that boys who took ADHD drugs actually performed worse in school than those with a similar number of symptoms who didn’t. Girls taking the medicine reported more emotional problems, according to a working paper published on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Doctors are diagnosing patients with ADHD with increasing frequency, and the number of prescriptions of these types of medications has risen dramatically. With more individuals having access to these types of medications, diversion becomes more common. The sale of ADHD medications between students has become a widespread problem on high school and college campuses throughout the US. Experts estimate that over a third of college students have used ADHD medications without a prescription.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 2.7 million kids were taking medication for ADHD in the U.S. as of 2007, the most recent data available. Some experts estimate that 15% to 20% of all ADHD medicine in the U.S. is diverted or shared with people who don’t have a prescription. Whether the drugs help the academic performance of kids without the disorder is even less clear.
ADHD Drugs: What’s the problem?
In the beginning, ADHD medications are effective. They increase energy, alertness, and concentration. In a competitive environment, these drugs will give you an edge, for a period of time. The problem is that over time, these drugs are highly addictive and they begin to lose their effectiveness. Tolerance develops, and you need a higher and higher dose to get the same effect. And God forbid you ever forget to take them or decide to stop. They might temporarily make it easier to study and take tests, but in the long run there are significant problems both in terms of thinking, mood problems, maybe even functionality.
Besides the risk of dependence and addiction, study drugs also have a number of other side effects including jitters, headaches, stomach problems and they can eventually lead to psychosis. Not to mention, these drugs have been shown to cause a dangerous increase in heart rate and blood pressure that can be deadly.
Most students don’t see any problem with using these study drugs to enhance performance. In a recent survey, students at one university said that they considered study drugs only slightly more dangerous than caffeine, and much less dangerous than drinking alcohol and studying.
The students who actually turn down these study drugs have to compete with classmates on cognition enhancement drugs, and some students who were originally opposed to the idea end up taking study drugs just to compete. It has become culturally acceptable to treat every ailment, real or imagined with a prescription drugs. Some say that we are raising our children to be dependent on prescription drugs by cultivating an environment where it is accepted and even encouraged.
If you or someone you love is in need of treatment for prescription drug abuse, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.