Caroline is a 17-year-old Junior in high school who enjoys being on her school's debate team, rock climbing and playing the guitar. Her favorite subject is Biology and she would like to incorporate it in her future career.
As a parent, you try to instill certain values and expectations in your children so that they can be happy and successful in life. You’ve taught them to say no to drugs and constantly encourage them to do well in school; but what happens when it gets complicated and the two begin to intermingle?
One of the newest trends among teenagers and college-aged students is taking medications prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD) in order to improve their performances at school. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in five high school students have abused such prescription drugs. The most common form of medication taken is the drug Adderall. Other forms include Ritalin, Dexedrine, Concerta, Focalin and generic versions of these drugs as well.
It’s not difficult to find at least one student diagnosed with the disorder who will be willing to sell you a few pills for your next test. The usage of these pills among high school students are especially common during AP Exam or SAT testing days, but are periodically used throughout the school year when needed.
Teenagers are under a lot of pressure when it comes to school. Many students sacrifice sleep and social activities to keep up their grade point averages, but at one point is it too much? It seems like high school kids now have become much more competitive than they were a decade or two ago. School seems to no longer be about doing your best, but actually being the best.
The use of stimulating drugs, such as Adderall, are a student’s way of getting ahead. Many students have even reported big increases in SAT scores before and after taking Adderrall. Sure, the drug works, but is it worth it? And does it work any better than organic methods of improving scores like studying hard and getting enough sleep? The problem is that Adderall is not only dangerous, but it’s ethically wrong because it gives students who take the drug an unfair advantage over students who attempt an assignment on their own merits.
Since Adderall allows students to do well in school (something every good parent encourages) and since it is so widespread, many teenagers don’t see any harm in taking the drug. However, many of them don’t understand that Adderall is an amphetamine– as in methamphetamine. The only difference between Adderall and methamphetamine is that methamphetamine typically lasts longer.
But Adderall has basically all of the same effects (as well as side effects) of methamphetamine. It stimulates your brain and makes you feel like you have endless energy. You are able to focus on any task put in front of you and complete it in record time. You feel happier and more confident than usual.
As far as side effects, Adderall can make you lose an unhealthy amount of weight because it decreases your appetite. Many users experience mood swings and bouts of depression. Users also experience: stomach pain, nausea, migraines, insomnia, random skin breakouts, chronic thirst and sudden dizziness or fainting. Of course, many teenagers deal with mood swings, skin breakouts and a few other symptoms listed as part of the natural maturing process. However, as a parent you should be aware if these symptoms occur more than usual or coupled with other side-effects on the list.
The science behind this is that the Amphetamine ingredient in the drugs release neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and adrenaline, from the central nervous system. In the process, it inhibits the brain’s natural ability to recycle and reproduce dopamine on its own. This process is what makes Adderall so addictive. It forces the user to become dependent on the drug in order to maintain normal energy levels and a general feeling of well-being.
It’s important to note the fact that Adderall is a type of stimulant, and this fact may contribute to why students view the abuse of it with such indifference. Stimulant abusers in America aren’t viewed the way other drug addicts are because they’re the norm. According to the National Coffee Association, the average American consumes 3.1 cups of coffee per day. With a Starbucks on every corner, increased usage of energy drinks and other exploitations of caffeine to stay awake, it’s no wonder many students feel it’s “okay” to turn to Adderall for an energy boost.
It’s practically inevitable that your teenager in high school will be offered or will hear of using the drug Adderall for improving test scores. That is, if they haven’t been offered or told already. You may think they’re safe from exposure to drugs in the honor’s program, but that seems to be the opposite of the truth when it comes to Adderall. As a parent, it’s highly important that you have this conversation with your children before their peers do.
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