Teens and Young Adults Abusing ADHD Meds

Girl desperate

The use and abuse of stimulant, pharmaceutical drugs are on the rise amongst American teens and young adults. These are drugs like Ritalin, Concerta, and Adderall, pharmaceuticals designed to treat ADD, ADHD, OCD, etc. Teens are self-medicating on such pills because they erroneously believe that such drugs act as “study aids” that can help them on tests.

This is a very dangerous and grim mistake that young people are making when they take such drugs thinking that they will “help” them in their studies. There exists absolutely no verifiable data that can provide a direct corollary between self-medicating on stimulant drugs and then doing better on tests or learning more in classes. Young people probably got this concept by noticing that such drugs made them particularly alert and attentive. However, that doesn’t have anything to do with memory, intelligence, ability to absorb and retain information, etc. If anything, it’s actually more likely that young people who are high on stimulants will struggle with focusing in class due to taking a stimulant drug that they have no legitimate need for.

How Young People are Getting Stimulant Drugs

Girls and drugs

Studies and surveys from various qualified institutions show that young people are getting stimulant drugs for self-medicative and abusive reasons not on the street from dealers, which is the usual tactic, but from friends who already have legitimate prescriptions for the drugs.

This changes the game of illicit drug use. In the past, most addicts would get their drugs from drug dealers, which presented a very straightforward risk that law enforcement could address clearly. It is much easier to bust drug deals on the streets than it is to bust drug deals when they occur in homes between friends.

Health Risks Attendant to Self Medicating on Stimulant Drugs

According to the National Institute of Health, abusing stimulant drugs increases blood pressure and heart rate, creating risks for those taking them. Such drugs can:

  • Create a loss of appetite
  • Increase the user’s heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature to the point of actual risk to the person’s life
  • Dilate the pupils and create difficulty seeing
  • Cause nausea, vomiting, and other stomach problems
  • Cause the user to behave erratically, act in a violent way, and to be bizarre in general
  • Induce panic, psychosis, irritability, hyperexcitability, and hallucinations
  • Such drugs can even cause convulsions, seizures, and overdose deaths when taken in large doses
  • Stimulant drugs can cause damage to the blood vessels in the heart and brain, which in turn leads to high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, and even death
  • Repeated use of stimulant drugs can result in kidney damage, liver damage, and lung damage
  • Depending on the method of use (sniffing, smoking, or injecting) using stimulants can result in damage to the nose, mouth, and skin
  • Using stimulants can result in malnutrition and weight loss
  • When people are high on stimulants, rather than being very focused like they are told they will be, they are often disoriented, apathetic, exhausted, and confused

A Better Approach

People do not need fancy methods and tricky moves to get good at studying and at taking tests. They just need to manage their time effectively, take classes that are within their understanding, not overwhelm or overload themselves, and spend the necessary time to learn the subjects they will be getting tested on. Most schools offer free tutoring and guidance programs for certain subjects as well.

When young people abuse stimulant drugs on the misnomer than such drugs will help them out somehow, they run far more dangerous risks than just not doing great on a test. Students of all ages need to stay away from ADHD medications.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.