Doctors Raise Concerns About Attention Deficit Drug Misuse

CBS News
March 14, 2013
Doctors Raise Concerns About Attention Deficit Drug Misuse

Featuring: Dr. Andrew Adesman, Chief, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Cohen Children’s Medical Center

A national group of doctors is concerned that healthy children are using ADHD medications when they shouldn't be.

14 year old Stephanie Person is on medication to help manage her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
"I can focus in class. I can study. I can do my homework, take notes and get everything done."

Now The American Academy of Neurology is issuing a warning about an alarming new trend. More and more children who don't have the disorder are using ADHD medications to boost their attention in school.

"Because stimulant meds have been shown to be very effective improving attention span of children with ADHD, many high school and especially college students are using these drugs illicitly," says Dr. Andrew Adesman of Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

The country's leading neurologists say healthy children should not be using memory enhancing drugs because their brains are still developing. There are also risks of becoming dependent on the drugs.. and over-medication.

ADHD is one of the most common childhood disorders and recent studies show it can continue into adulthood. Experts say getting the right diagnosis is key, so patients can get the right treatment.

There could be other problems underlying academic struggles including anxiety, depression and insomnia.

"Recognizing first of all that many children who have attention problems or behavior problems don't necessarily have ADHD," Dr. Adesman says.

If a student is having trouble in school.. doctors say parents should first make sure their child is getting enough sleep, exercise and good nutrition.

The authors of  the paper say doctors have a professional obligation to protect the best interests of a child and that prescribing mind enhancing drugs for healthy students is not justifiable.

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