Students Misuse of Drugs

Students drug useStudy Suggests Parents May Underestimate Teen Misuse of Stimulant Medications

“Parents’ awareness of their teens using ‘study drugs’ does not match self-reported use by teens,” according to a US nationally representative household survey of parents of 13- to 17-year-olds.

Only 1% of parents of teens who have never been prescribed a stimulant medication for ADHD believe that their teens have used such drugs to stay awake to study for an exam or to do homework, and 4% reported that they did not know.

In contrast, recent national data from the Monitoring the Future survey show that 5% of 8th graders, 9% of 10th graders, and 12% of 12th graders report ever using stimulants such as Ritalin® or Adderall® without a prescription (see figures below).

The study also found that only slightly more than one-fourth (27%) of parents of teens reported that they had talked to their teens about using non-prescribed stimulant medications (data not shown).

While Only 1% of Parents Believe Their Teens Have Used a Stimulant to Stay Awake to Study for An Exam or To Do Homework . . . (see below)

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. . . Between 5% and 12% of
8th, 10th, and 12th Grade Teens Say They Have Ever Used Stimulants Without a Prescription (see below)

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June 10, 2013. Vol. 22, Issue 23. CESAR FAX may be copied without permission at www.cesar.umd.edu

Mind-altering medications can cause birth defects

pregnant woman holding stomach Between 1998 and 2007, mind-altering medications were associated with 429 adverse drug reactions in Danish children under the age of 17. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Studies have published an article in the open access journal BMC Research Notes concluding that more than half of the 429 cases were serious and several involved birth defects, such as birth deformities and severe withdrawal syndromes.

Professors Lise Aagaard and Ebbe Holme Hansen from the University of Copenhagen studied all 4,500 paediatric adverse drug reaction reports submitted during the study period to find those which were linked to mind-altering medications. The two researchers found that 42% of adverse reactions were reported for psycho-stimulants, such as Ritalin, which treats attention deficit disorder (ADD), followed by 31% for antidepressants, such as Prozac, and 24% for antipsychotics, such as Haldol.

"A range of serious side effects such as

  • birth deformities,
  • low birth weight,
  • premature birth, and
  • development of neonatal withdrawal syndrome

were reported in children under two years of age, most likely because of the mother’s intake of mind-altering medication during pregnancy," says Associate Professor Lisa Aagaard.

Use of antidepressants is increasing

The researchers believe that these tendencies should serve as a warning to pregnant women, doctors and health care personnel.

"Mind-altering medication should not be prescribed in ordinary circumstances, because this type of medication has a long half-life. If people take their medicine as prescribed it will be a constantly high dosage, and it could take weeks for one single tablet to exit the body’s system. Three out of four pregnancies are planned, and therefore society must take responsibility for informing women about the serious risks of transferring side effects to their unborn child," says Aagaard.

There is a clear indication that use of antidepressants is increasing in Denmark, as well as in many other countries, and the tendency is the same when it comes to pregnant women.

"We are constantly reminded about the dangers of alcohol use and smoking during pregnancy, but there is no information offered to women with regards to use of mind-altering medication. There is simply not enough knowledge available in this area," concludes Aagaard, suggesting that greater control should be required when prescribing mind-altering medications to pregnant women.

From EurekAlert

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ADHD and Alcoholism

ADHD risk for Alcoholism

A pair of new studies adds weight to the theory that children who suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are at higher risk of problem drinking during adolescence and alcoholism later in life.

“Children with ADHD are believed to be at risk for alcoholism because of their impulsivity and distractibility, as well as other problems that often accompany ADHD such as school failure and behavior problems,” said Brooke Molina of the University of Pittsburgh, corresponding author for both studies.

In one study, researchers found that 15- to 17-years olds with childhood ADHD reported being drunk an average of 14 times during the previous year, compared to 1.8 times for adolescents without ADHD. Fourteen percent of the ADHD group was classified as alcohol abusers or alcohol dependent, but none of the youths in the non-ADHD group were.

“It appears that one of the reasons for the past inconsistencies in research is that the ADHD-alcohol relationship does not become solid until at least mid-adolescence,” said Stephen Hinshaw, professor and chair of the department of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. “Later on, it may be that only a subset of kids with ADHD — namely, those with more aggressive or antisocial behavior patterns — are at risk by young adulthood.”

Researchers added that parental alcoholism and family stress add to the alcoholism risk for children with ADHD. “One of the reasons that children with ADHD might be at risk for alcohol problems is that alcoholism and ADHD tend to run together in families,” said Molina. “We found that parental alcoholism predicted heavy problem drinking among the teenagers, that the association was partly explained by higher rates of stress in these families, and these connections were stronger when the adolescent had ADHD in childhood. So, the bottom line is that when the child has ADHD and the parent has suffered from alcoholism, either currently or in the past, the child will have an increased risk for alcohol problems himself or herself.”

The studies were published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

References: Marshal, M.P. Molina, B.S.G., Pelham, W.E., Cheong, J. (2007) Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Moderates the Life Stress Pathway to Alcohol Problems in Children of Alcoholics. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 31(4): 564-574;
Molina, B.S.G., et al. (2007) Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Risk for Heavy Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder Is Age Specific. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 31(4): 643-654;