Commonly Overlooked ADHD Medication Facts

The general public underestimates the potential dangers associated with the use of ADHD medications. Here are a few commonly overlooked facts.

Campus Safety recently took a comprehensive look the abuse of ADHD medication on campus. As an extension to that article, here are some commonly overlooked ADHD medication facts.

Legally prescribed ADHD stimulant medications like Adderall, Concerta, Vyvanse, Focalin and Ritalin have a high addictive potential. Because the general public underestimates the potential dangers associated with the use of ADHD medications, the Food and Drug Administration issued a stern warning about their use:

“Of particular concern is that ADHD literature prepared for public consumption does not address the potential or actual abuse of methylphenidate [the generic name for many ADHD drugs]. Instead, methylphenidate is routinely portrayed as a benign, mild substance that is not associated with abuse or serious side effects. In reality, however, the scientific literature indicates that methylphenidate shares the same abuse potential as other Schedule II stimulants [the most addictive class of prescription drugs]. Further, case reports document that methylphenidate abuse can lead to tolerance and severe psychological dependence.”

Since 2006, the Food and Drug Administration has mandated that every stimulant prescription include a black box warning label – the sort of labeling that is reserved for the most addictive type of substances. The label reads:

“Amphetamines have a high potential for abuse. Administration of amphetamines for prolonged periods of time may lead to drug dependence. Particular attention should be paid to the possibility of subjects obtaining amphetamines for non-therapeutic use or distribution to others and the drugs should be prescribed and dispensed sparingly. Misuse of amphetamine may cause sudden death and serious cardiovascular adverse events.”

In spite of such warnings, the uses and abuse of stimulant medications in the U.S. has increased continuously since they were first introduced as a treatment for ADHD.

According to the most recent and comprehensive review, on average, childhood treatment with stimulant drugs neither increases nor decreases risk of later substance abuse. Nonetheless, students with personal or family histories of substance abuse are at increased risk for abuse and addiction. When taken in high doses or snorted, stimulant medications can result in paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, and circulatory and pulmonary problems – sometimes leading to accidental death or suicide. Among students with cardiac issues, sudden death is possible.

Between 2005 and 2010, the number of emergency room visits, overdoses, and suicides among young adults for reasons stemming from non-medical use of ADHD medications more than doubled. The national poison control center has also noted sharp increases in the number of teenagers reported due to use of ADHD medications.

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo