I wanted to bring everyone’s attention to a disturbing article in the New York Times this past weekend.
The article discusses the abuse of stimulant medication, generally prescribed to help children with ADHD, by other students seeking better grades. When properly used, these medications can safely bring great help to patients with important needs. But these drugs work by altering brain chemistry and can have significant side effects as well. The trained prescriber understands this and can work with families to maximize benefit while minimizing risk. We have used them successfully in this way for many years. Using them outside of this context is foolish and potentially dangerous. Little is known about the long term effects such medications may have on the developing brains of children without ADHD, but using them without proper guidance is clearly risky. And illegal.
I don’t want this discussion to deter families with medical needs from seeking help. Used properly, these medications are safe and vitally important for some patients. But parents need to be aware of how common misuse of these drugs is becoming. Talk to your children about these issues. Encourage them to succeed without pressuring them into misusing medication. Store medications properly and administer them with appropriate supervision. And if you think you need help, please call.