A new study in the April 18, 2023 issue of JAMA Network Open suggests that up to 25% of middle school and high school students in some schools engage in  ”nonmedical use of prescription stimulants,” (NUPS) to get ”high,” to get a ”cognitive boost” for class, and as a ”study drug” to help prepare for tests and papers.  The study found that higher rates of NUPS were found in schools not in the Northeast region of the country, schools located in suburban areas, schools that had more White students, and schools where parents had had more education.  Also, students attending schools with the highest rates of prescribed stimulant therapy for ADHD had 36% increased odds of nonmedical prescription stimulant use compared with students attending schools with the lowest rates.

While ADHD drugs can be effective in helping students focus and compliant in the classroom when properly prescribed and monitored by a medical doctor, their nonmedical use can result in a wide range of problems including cardiovascular events, paranoia, dangerous high body temperatures, depressed mood, overdoses, psychosis, seizures, stimulant use disorder, and greater likelihood of abuse illegal drugs.

I have long advocated that parents and professionals educate themselves as to the wide range of drug-free alternatives out there that can help students achieve focus and resilience without (or as a supplement to) stimulant medication.  My book The Myth of the ADHD Child:  101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span without Drugs, Labels, or Coercion, has specific detailed strategies that can help children, teens, and adults, ameliorate the disruptive components of attention deficit hyperactive disorder.  They include such strategies as:

  • martial arts
  • time in nature
  • emotional self-regulation strategies
  • giving kids time to play in unstructured ways
  • limiting junk food
  • promoting daily exercise
  • using metacognitive tools
  • stress-reduction methods
  • teaching mindfulness meditation
  • promoting adequate sleep

For the complete list of 101 strategies, see my blog post:  101 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Behavior and Attention Span

Unfortunately, the monetary power of Big Pharma along with the scientific prestige of the American Medical Association, have locked the behaviors of impulsivity, hyperactivity, and distractibility into a fixed and set medical disorder that requires a medical treatment (i.e. prescribed medications).  With billions of dollars enforcing this point of view there is far less attention to non-medical alternatives most of which have no discernible side effects, and prove healthy for everyone, not just those who are labeled as ADHD.

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I’m the author of 20 books including my latest, a novel called Childless, which you can order from Amazon.

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