Get Real: Free Video Series and Digital Course Address Various Situations Your Teen Might Face While Managing Their ADHD Medication
As your teen or young adult becomes more independent, you can help them build skills to manage their ADHD medications responsibly. It’s never too early to help them think through the challenges they may face – particularly around safe use of their prescription stimulant medications.
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The march toward independence is exciting for teens and young adults – and is often overwhelming, even terrifying, for the adults in their lives. If your teen has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), added responsibility over their life and health comes with extra considerations.
Responsible use of prescription stimulant medication is an important aspect of managing ADHD symptoms, but many teens with ADHD may not be accustomed to managing their medication regimens — including when to take their medications, where to store them, and how to dispose of them — without the help of parents and caregivers.1 Working together to build safety-focused habits is important especially as your teen starts meeting new people and having more experiences outside of the home. You don’t have to do this alone; there are resources to help you build your knowledge and start conversations.
Free Video Series for Teens with ADHD on Medication Responsibility
For teens and young adults with ADHD who have already been prescribed stimulant medications by a healthcare professional, the Prescription Drug Safety Network (“the Network”), in partnership with Adlon Therapeutics, has developed a free, interactive video series and digital course focused on safe and responsible medication use. The resources were created using information compiled from government and peer-reviewed sources written by medical professionals.
For parents and caregivers, four modules within the digital course – intended to take about five minutes each – cover responsible use of prescribed medications from your point of view, including how to talk with your teen about their medications, how to read prescription bottle labels and medication guides, and how to recognize signs of prescription stimulant misuse. The information can help you lay the foundation to engage and support your teen. The course also includes a set of resources designed to get teens thinking about prescription considerations, using their medication responsibly, and making smart choices.
Practice Responding to Tricky Scenarios – Before They Happen
The new resources include a series of videos that allow teens to virtually explore various situations they might encounter at home, in school, or in a workplace. As your teen watches the videos and selects the fictionalized characters’ actions and reactions, they see the results and consequences of different choices related to safe medication storage, proper disposal, and potential risks. These aren’t always easy topics to discuss, but the videos offer an interactive way to think ahead and work to build responsible habits, refusal skills, and diversion techniques.
Following is a preview of what you’ll find in the videos – and some insights from experts on the responsible use of prescription stimulant medications. Have you and/or your teen thought about what they might do in the following situations?
Video Scenario 1: Someone asks your teen to share their prescription stimulant.
Unfortunately, people who take prescription stimulant medications may face this type of pressure in different environments, as Kyle’s story demonstrates. Here are the facts, straight from the experts:
- Prescription stimulant medications won’t help someone academically who doesn’t have ADHD and can cause health problems.2
- Prescription stimulants are Schedule II controlled substances, and it’s illegal to give a Schedule II substance to anyone other than the person for whom it was specifically prescribed.3
Takeaway: The only right answer to a question about sharing is “no,” but since peer pressure can be a strong force, this video offers refusal skills that can help individuals think through what they might do in similar situations.
Video Scenario 2: Your teen stops taking their stimulant medication as prescribed.
Ben’s story follows a college freshman adjusting to life on campus and his new ADHD prescription. He struggles with whether his prescription is strong enough and if he needs to take more medication or talk with his doctor. This situation illustrates how teens and young adults with ADHD might get off track, even when they have the best of intentions.
Takeaway: Using a prescription stimulant medication in any way that is not as prescribed by a healthcare professional is misuse. Experts recommend that both you and your teen gain a full understanding of how their prescription stimulant should be taken so that you can offer support if they ask questions about their medication – and encourage them to contact their healthcare professional if they have questions.5
Video Scenario 3: Someone takes your teen’s prescription stimulant because it wasn’t stored or disposed of properly.
In Morgan’s story, you see several different ways someone could acquire prescription medications that don’t belong to them. The U.S. government has specific guidance to help limit this risk.
Takeaway: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts recommend ensuring the medication bottle’s safety cap is locked and storing it in a lock box or other secure storage device after every use.6 For proper disposal, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration calls for dropping off unwanted prescription stimulants medications at an authorized take-back site – but as an alternate, remove prescription stimulants from their original container and mix with an undesirable substance such as kitty litter or used coffee grounds. Place the mixture in a container, can, sealed plastic bag or another container that will prevent the prescription stimulants from leaking or breaking out of the garbage bag. To protect your identity, remove or scratch out all personal information on prescription stimulant label.7
Opening Doors for the Future
Growing up is an exciting and difficult process – and learning how to make responsible choices is an integral part of the experience. Starting conversations and sharing information with your teen or young adult family member now is one way to help equip them for what’s ahead and create an open door to be a source of support.
This post is sponsored by and was developed in partnership with Adlon Therapeutics L.P., a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma L.P.
The Prescription Drug Safety Network is a nationwide coalition of public and private-sector organizations convened by EVERFI, a national leader in prevention education, to help address prescription drug misuse among teens and young adults, with a focus on at-risk communities. The Prescription Drug Safety Network partnered with Adlon to develop the resources featured within this article.
1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Treatment. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/treatment.html. October 8, 2019. Accessed July 16, 2020
2 Lakhan SE, Kirchgessner A. Prescription stimulants in individuals with and without attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: misuse, cognitive impact, and adverse effects. Brian and Behavior. 2012; 2(5): 661–677. July 2012. Accessed July 16, 2020.
3 United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Scheduling. Accessed June 2020. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling.
4 NIDA. 2020, June 25. Glossary. Accessed August 18, 2020. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/glossary
5 Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Use Medicines Safely. https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/safety/use-medicines-safely. July 16, 2020.
6 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patient Safety: Put Your Medicines Up and Away and Out of Sight. https://www.cdc.gov/features/medicationstorage/index.html. June 10, 2020. Accessed July 16, 2020
7 U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Drug Disposal: Dispose “Non-Flush List” Medicine in Trash https://www.fda.gov/drugs/disposal-unused-medicines-what-you-should-know/drug-disposal-dispose-non-flush-list-medicine-trash. Accessed July 30, 2020.