Dangers of “study drugs”
School is ramping up for high school and college students with papers, exams and tests just beginning. And some may be looking for any help they can get to improve their grades.
Often called “study drugs,” an increasing number of young people are using attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication to boost their brain power before taking important exams or writing papers. And now, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is condemning the practice and warning about the dangers.
The AAN has issued a statement saying prescribing these drugs for teens without ADHD is misguided and may be hazardous. And with exam season in full swing, the warnings are timely.
“Doctors caring for children and teens have a professional obligation to always protect the best interests of the child, to protect vulnerable populations, and prevent the misuse of medication,” said AAN member William Graf, MD, of Yale University in a news release. “The practice of prescribing these drugs, called neuroenhancements, for healthy students is not justifiable.”
The statement says parents who urge their physicians to prescribe the medication may be putting their children at risk since the long-term effects on people without ADHD who take the drug have not been studied. They also risk creating a dependency problem and over-medication concerns.
“The physician should talk to the child about the request, as it may reflect other medical, social or psychological motivations such as anxiety, depression or insomnia. There are alternatives to neuroenhancements available, including maintaining good sleep, nutrition, study habits and exercise regimens,” said Graf.
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