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Our view: Stimulant abuse raises new concern

Being a teen in 2012 is more complicated than it was when their parents were kids. Parenting is more complicated, too.

Parents need to talk with their kids about the dangers of illicit drugs, alcohol, sexual activity and many other issues.

None of that is terribly new.

But now, even parents of kids who are knocking themselves out to get good grades have a relatively new concern – a trend toward kids illegally obtaining drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall, which are legally used to treat attention deficit-hyper activity disorder.

These aren’t necessarily the kids who are just looking to get high, experimenting or rebelling. As a story in Sunday’s Northwest Herald indicated, some teens are using illegally obtained drugs to help them succeed academically, cram for tests and get an edge on their classmates.

The motivation doesn’t matter. There are legal ramifications for teens caught with these prescription drugs, and health consequences for these stimulants that are being taken by growing kids without a doctor’s prescription.

While kids might assume these drugs are safe because their friends’ parents get them at the local pharmacy, Ritalin is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a schedule II narcotic – the same classification as cocaine, morphine and amphetamines.

These drugs can increase a teen’s heart rate and blood pressure. Side effects include insomnia and weight loss. They also are addictive.

Educators need to become more aware of the problem, as well, and help educate their students on the potential dangers and other consequences.

Most importantly, parents should explain to their own teens the dangers of taking drugs that aren’t prescribed by doctors. Parents of teens who are prescribed these drugs to treat medical conditions should keep a sharp eye on the inventory.


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