New Concerns About Stimulant Abuse

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a report in July on preventing substance abuse in children with ADHD. Children with the disorder are at greater risk for misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit substances. While ADHD medications help reduce the risk of substance misuse, the drug treatments themselves are open to abuse. “Many school-aged […]

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a report in July on preventing substance abuse in children with ADHD. Children with the disorder are at greater risk for misusing alcohol, tobacco, and other illicit substances.

While ADHD medications help reduce the risk of substance misuse, the drug treatments themselves are open to abuse. “Many school-aged children – up to 23 percent – are approached to sell, buy, or trade their medication,” says the AAP.

As a result, pediatricians have outlined safe prescription practices of stimulants:

> Before prescribing, confirm a diagnosis of ADHD. Many who are “depressed, anxious, neglected or having academic difficulty because of a learning disorder may present as inattentive,” says the report’s authors. Other conditions “that might be confused with ADHD” should be ruled out.

> Screen older children and adolescents for use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. A brief intervention is recommended. Doctors should ask: “In the past year, have you 1) had a drink with alcohol in it? 2) used marijuana? 3) used any other substance to get high?”

> Provide guidance. Give instructions on proper use of ADHD medication, along with an explanation of the risks of misuse, and what this could involve, such as being approached to sell the prescription drugs.

> Document prescription records. Good recordkeeping is a requirement because stimulant medication is a Drug Enforcement Administration class II controlled substance.

The AAP issued its report on the overlap between ADHD and substance use disorders “because few clinical guidelines support physicians managing the intersection of these disorders.”

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