Avoiding the Problem of ADHD Medication Diversion in College

Stimulant Diversion is a Growing Trend

Stimulant diversion is the sharing of one’s ADHD medication with someone else. It can range from giving a friend a pill to selling one’s prescribed pills to others. The practice is on the rise among young adults, especially college students. Non-medical use of psychoactive stimulant medication for ADHD is a growing trend and diversion rates for prescribed stimulants was estimated at 61.7% in one study. Stimulant-related emergency department visits have increased threefold in recent years.

One research study found that more than one sixth of college students misuse stimulant medications meant to treat ADHD, primarily in the mistaken belief that the drugs will improve academic performance, new research shows. An analysis of 30 studies revealed that the prevalence of stimulant medication misuse was 17%, with students who were members of a college fraternity/sorority and users of other substances more likely to misuse the drugs.

Government authorities treat medication diversion as a criminal activity. This can lead to serious consequences for students who engage in the practice.

What Parents and Students Can Do

CHADD, a national resource for ADHD, has a number of recommendations for parents and students to avoid the problems that come with stimulant diversion. For parents, these include things like:

  • Educate your child about his or her medication, the laws that govern its use, and how it can interact with other substances.
  • Speak with your child about respecting the purpose of the medication and using it only for its prescribed and intended purpose.
  • Make sure your child understands that he or she is taking what is considered a controlled substance that is illegal to all others.
  • Make sure that the school is aware of the medication that your child is taking, even if it is not dispensed by school medical personnel. This is especially important if your child is away at college.

For students, CHADD suggests:

  • Know that your ADHD medications are a controlled substance. Possession of these medications without a prescription is illegal.
  • Safeguard your medication from theft on campus. It is an important tool to management of your ADHD symptoms and it should be there when you need it.
  • A gift is a sale. In the eyes of the law, giving a controlled substance to someone who does not have the legal or medical authority to possess it is the same as selling it.
  • Don’t share your medication with others. Giving controlled substances to your friends is not only illegal, but can cause them harm if they are not being supervised by a doctor.

The bottom line for both parents and students is to be educated and use caution when dealing with ADHD medications.

A True Story

Jeff Copper, host of Attention Talk Radio, recently interviewed an anonymous guest who was accused of sharing ADHD medications, was handcuffed, arrested, and embroiled in the legal system for 18 brutal months before regaining his life and finally getting back on track. You can listen to the interview by clicking the play button.

This cautionary tale should be heeded by all ADHD students should hear before being heading to college.

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