Dangerous Way to Level the Playing Field

It is sad on so many levels when I hear that college students without ADHD take stimulants in order to stay awake and complete assignments.  I have even heard times where parents have not been upset about this but feel that it is actually unfair that students with the ADHD diagnosis take medication and their children do not because they believe that being on meds, regardless of a diagnosis, supplies an edge to success!

Heads with pills

According to a study in Forbes, 5/5/14, “Does Misuse of ADHD Meds By Students Constitute Cheating?”  In 2012, 616 high school students were asked to fill out an online questionnaire.  18% used stimulants at least once and 41% believed it to be cheating!


On so many levels, this is wrong and dangerous.  And in a side note, makes light of what our kids with ADHD experience with their impairments that affect academics.  I would express two levels where I believe that this illicit use of medications is so harmful.


First, those who are diagnosed are recommended to first have a cardiac clearance.  It is not that these medications cause heart damage.  But if there is an underlying genetic issue not previously diagnosed, these stimulants could be potentially harmful.  In addition to the physical issues are the mental issues for which patients with ADHD are constantly evaluated:  anxiety, depression, rebound effects, and adequate nutrition.  All of this can be affected by stimulants.


There are two ways in which these kids are getting these medications.  Either those diagnosed are selling/giving their drugs to them, which is against the law due to it being a controlled substance.  Or they are feigning ADHD symptoms in order to secure the diagnosis.

taking a pills

If kids are able to pretend that they have symptoms of ADHD successfully, then it appears that our physicians are not clued into what really comprises ADHD.  Why are they not following appropriate protocol to diagnose accurately?  Why are they not following the DSM?  Getting information from the client solely about symptoms is not the way to diagnose ADHD.  If these physicians do not have the knowledge base to diagnose, they should be referring out to those who do.  Writing out scripts of medications that are controlled substances and should be taken seriously is completely irresponsible.


No, misuse of stimulants in college is not cheating.  It is irresponsible and dangerous to our children.  Parents and physicians need to step up in this arena.  Parents of kids with ADHD need to insure that their kids understand the severity of sharing their medications.  Parents with kids without ADHD who believe that they are leveling the playing field by securing medication for them should be more educated in this area of ADHD.  Receiving a prescription from a physician does not make it safe or right!


Its ironic… many who would deny our children with ADHD appropriate medication management based on what they believe to be too many diagnoses and too many scripts for meds!  Yet, many have made sense out of leveling the playing field in college through medication that is not needed.

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