Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Danger Alert: ADD/ADHD Medications Often Abused by College Students

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Medication Abuse on College Campuses is a Huge Problem

I'm probably going to catch it from my kids for this post. Yet they know and have commented to me about this problem. It's more than just abuse. The students who have ADD or ADHD may be taking extra doses of their stimulant medications (Adderall, Ritalin and Dexedrine) to help them get through long nights of cramming for exams. But there's more.

The added danger is when they share these meds with other students, particularly students who may be taking medicines which do not combine safely with these stimulants. Another problem is when kids combine ADD stimulant medications with their own drugs, only to reduce the therapeutic effect of their prescribed medications. Finally, what happens when a kid with a racing heart problem takes a stimulant? This can spell disaster. It's a vicious cycle that most college students do not realize the impact of.

Sure, they've heard the ramblings from the Student Health departments of their respective schools. The problem is they don't really believe it can happen to them. College students often believe they will live forever; after all, they're still young and healthy.

They may not know of the student who experienced a heart attack when too many stimulant medications were combined. Or perhaps they are not aware that when they combine a multitude of medications meant for various symptoms, the end result can be a synergy that is dangerous when they get behind the wheel.

If your kids take these commonly-used medications for ADD or ADHD, teach them from an early age the potential dangers of overusing and combining them. Also make sure they understand the severe health problems they could be responsible for if they share these medications with others whose health history and prescription medications are unknown to them. Education is the key. Start now.

One final helpful tip. If your student takes medications away to college, help keep their medications safe. Provide your student with a lockable container (toolbox or tackle box will work just fine) for medications. This will help assure that meds don't get stolen--another problem occurring on college campuses in growing numbers.

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