Campus ADHD prescription abuse increases
- Sep. 2, 2009
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Lydia Krassensky, Washington, D.C., junior, began taking Adderall to treat her attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD, halfway through her freshman year. With the help of her doctor, she found the right dosage to help treat her ADHD.
“If I wake up late, I don’t take it,” Krassensky said. “I know I will have trouble sleeping if I do.”
But Krassensky seems to be part of the shrinking number of college students who try to use their prescriptions correctly. A study released in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics showed that abuse of ADHD prescriptions, including Adderall and Ritalin, rose 76 percent — from 318 to 581 among the students who were surveyed — from 1998 to 2005. The number of prescriptions rose 80 percent during the same period.
“It’s not medication to take casually in any way,” said Linda Keller, a psychiatrist with Counseling and Psychological Services at Watkins Memorial Health Center.
Keller said that at CAPS students undergo an extensive evaluation process, which includes various testing and educational programs, before any medications are prescribed.
“I think there is a casual, cavalier use among people who have not had the education,” Keller said. “Specifically in the academic community, use has become much more widespread.”
Krassensky said she gets asked by friends and other students once or twice a month for some of her Adderall.
“When people find out I have it they are interested,” Krassensky said. “Definitely around finals people hit me up for it. It’s not up to me to be the one deciding who needs it and who doesn’t.”
In an article in the September 2009 edition of the Journal of Attention Disorders, 56 percent of the 115 college students on medication who were surveyed had been asked to give or sell medication to another student, and 26 percent actually gave or sold medication to another student.
“Students who receive medication without a prescription have no education that students on the prescription have,” Keller said. “They don’t know the risks and benefits.”
Keller said students who took ADHD prescriptions improperly ran the risk of increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and paranoia.
Dr. Julie Boyston, psychologist at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, 200 Maine St., said one way to curb abuse was to prescribe medicines that were harder to use incorrectly. She points to drugs like Concerta, another ADHD medicine, which cannot be opened or crushed and then snorted.
Boyston said research has shown that interventions, which can include instruction on time management and support from job coaches, family and friends, whether in conjunction with medications or by themselves, can also be beneficial to students with ADHD.
The University of Kansas Disability Resources offers various resources to students with ADHD, including extended testing time in a quiet setting, using note-takers, tape-recording lectures and finding tutors.
— Edited by Samantha Foster