Most notably, children and teens have taken to selling their prescription Adderall for cold, hard cash. Win-win, right? A broke teen gets a little money in his pocket, and, in exchange, a friend gets his hands on a cool upper that helps him study. What could possibly go wrong?
A lot, actually. Adderall is a stimulant med derived from amphetamine — also known as the street drug speed — and it’s dangerous for teens to take without a prescription and monitoring. It’s sometimes even deadly. ADHD expert Dr. Edward Hallowell explained, “When it’s taken properly, it’s not a dangerous street drug, but rather an effective way of helping children and adults with ADHD focus their minds and control their impulses. Used improperly, though, it’s dangerous.”
Teenage Adderall abuse isn’t exactly new. I remember hearing classmates discuss their Adderall drug ring like a bunch of idiots when I was in college 10 years ago. The concern is that Adderall abuse has picked up steam in recent years, and is a bigger problem than many parents can imagine. “The numbers aren’t completely certain, but millions of children are prescribed Adderall or another similar substance each year,” Hallowell said. He added that more children are diagnosed with ADHD than ever before, and increased diagnoses go hand in hand with increased Adderall prescriptions. That means that more children and teens are taking Adderall, and more are willing to sell it to friends. In fact, a recent National Institutes of Health study found that 31 percent of college students used the drug without a prescription during their college years. The most common dealer? A friend with an Adderall prescription.
I’ll admit that I had no idea Adderall abuse was so widespread before hearing these statistics. Since knowledge is power, though, I plan to discuss prescription drug rings with my daughter when she approaches school age. Hallowell reported that a frank discussion with your kids is one of the best preventative efforts parents can take, anyway. “Have a conversation with your children before they head off to school,” he said. “Encourage them to tell friends who ask to share their medications that Adderall can be dangerous and they don’t feel comfortable sharing.” Hallowell also suggested only giving your child a week’s supply at one time.
If you suspect that your child is either buying or selling Adderall, you must act quickly. “Enlist the help of a child psychiatrist or other trusted adviser,” Hallowell concluded. “There are serious dangers from the misuse of these medications. Do not rest until you know the situation is well in hand.”