ADHD drugs should not be prescribed to help kids study

Prescribing drugs solely to boost thinking and memory functions in children and adolescents who do not have neurologic disorders should never occur.  Practitioners should not let parents or patients bully them into prescribing stimulants and other psychoactive substances to improve academic performance, according to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in a paper earlier this month.


“Doctors caring for children and teens have a professional obligation to always protect the best interests of the child, to protect vulnerable populations, and prevent the misuse of medication,” said author William Graf, MD, of Yale University in New Haven, Conn. in a press release. “The practice of prescribing these drugs, called neuroenhancements, for healthy students is not justifiable.”

Not only do parents come in to turn their “B” student children into “A” students, but prescription stimulants are also widely sold illegally on high school and college campuses worldwide.

The effect of stimulants drugs (such as “Ritalin” and similar medications) on people without attention deficit disorder is very different than that on people with ADD. While stimulants calm down people with ADD, they make people without ADD become hyperactive and in rare cases violent.  

Stimulants do make everyone concentrate a bit better and can improve grades and athletic performance in some cases. But it doesn’t mean that they should be used in these situations. About nine percent of Major League Baseball players are diagnosed with ADD (which is more than twice the expected number) and forbidden stimulants are the most common reason for drug suspensions in baseball.

There are alternatives to neuroenhancements available, including maintaining good sleep, nutrition, study habits and exercise regimens, Graf said.

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