Stimulant abuse a problem among teens
Two-thirds of young people surveyed said the use of prescription stimulants is a moderate-to-large problem among youth, according to a new UF study. Nearly 15 percent said they had used a prescription stimulant, the study shows, and almost 12 percent reported diverting medications by giving their stimulants to a peer or taking someone else’s pills.
The National Monitoring of Adolescent Prescription Stimulants Study involved surveys of more than 11,000 youth ages 10 to 18 from urban, rural and suburban areas in and around 10 U.S. cities. It is the first national study to monitor prescription stimulant use in both preteens and teens, including non-medical use, with significant details for each topic. The study findings appeared in the September issue of the journal Current Opinion in Psychiatry.
Other studies have documented teens and college students using prescription stimulants non-medically as “study drugs” to enhance concentration. Stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta are typically prescribed to help patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder stay focused and to control behavior problems. But when the drugs are taken incorrectly or without a prescription, they can increase blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature and decrease sleep and appetite, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. At high doses, they can lead to cardiovascular problems.
For the UF study, led by Linda B. Cottler, Ph.D., M.P.H., chair of the department of epidemiology in the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine, researchers surveyed 11,048 preteens and teens. Interviewers recruited participants at venues where young people congregate, such as shopping malls, movie theaters, sports and recreation centers, arcades and skate parks.
“Health care providers should be cautious about prescribing stimulant medications to young people for non-significant issues,” Cottler said. “Parents should to talk to their kids and let them know that medications should not be shared for any reason.” — Jill Pease