What do Ritalin, steroids and oxycontin have in common?

Ritalin isn’t the only prescription drug to watch on college campuses.

There has been a lot of news during the 2012/2013 school year about misuse of ADHD medicines. It would seem from the amount of media attention that everyone from high school to college students are using Adderall and other ADHD meds to enhance test performance or pull all-nighters.

Earlier this week U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer asked New York colleges and universities to implement new standards that would make it more difficult for college students to acquire amphetamine-based drugs like Adderall without a legitimate diagnosis and prescription.

We agree that keeping ADHD medicine in the hands of students who have a legitimate ADHD diagnosis is an important concern. After all, when abused, stimulants can lead to a multitude of serious negative side-effects, including depression, and anxiety. However, for people with ADHD, stimulant use can be an important factor in succeeding in school versus dropping out. (FACT: 30+% of high school students with ADHD drop out.)

Pointing the spotlight at ADHD medicine in the discussion of college prescription drug abuse is misleading. There are a number of other drugs also being misused on college campuses – steroids, oxycontin, sexual performance enhancers and sleep aids are just a few of the prescription drugs that need to be carefully monitored on college campuses.

Senator Schumer’s recommendations make sense for ADHD medication are below. Are there any steps missing to ensure other drugs are also being properly administered?

For students diagnosed at a campus health clinic:

  • require formal contracts and follow-up diagnostics for that student
  • require detailed medical, educational, and psychological history

For students diagnosed outside of campus health clinic, and seeking to refill prescription:

  • require mental health evaluations with qualified health practitioner to verify diagnoses
  • require parent, guardian verification of diagnoses

Offer short-term counseling, time management and procrastination workshops, and medication consultation to students with prescription. (How about ADHD coaching?!)

Institute a program during freshman orientation that informs students of the potential side-effects of stimulant abuse and its addictive nature

If the university clinic does not feel it has the resources to properly diagnose and monitor students seeking these drugs, they should not diagnose or fill prescriptions for ADD/ADHD.

  • Offer list of community mental health professionals that can aid student in seeking this medication

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