Kids today are under ever-increasing pressure to perform well in high school so that they can get into a good college and then again in college so that they can get a good job.  And with the emphasis on test scores, rather than actually learning, it's no wonder that kids feel they need to do whatever it takes to ace their tests - whether it's the SATs, final exams, or their AP tests.  

When I was in school, cramming meant late nights, too much coffee, and huge doses of chocolate.  But today - with the prevalence of prescription stimulants given to kids - more and more students are turning to these "study drugs," to help them on tests.

Medications such as Adderrall and Ritalin are stimulants sometimes prescribed to kids with ADHD - or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - to help them stay focused at school. With the increase in ADHD diagnoses, came an increase in these prescription medications at schools.  And it wasn't long before kids figured out that they could ask their friends for a pill or two here and there when they needed a boost.  

Parents, here's what you need to know about teens and study drugs:

  1. Your teen has access to these pills.  In almost every school in America, there is at least one child who has been diagnosed with ADHD and given a prescription for these medications. 
  2. Your teen may not think that taking "study drugs" is the same as doing "street drugs."  Most teens don't equate study drugs with other illegal drugs like marijuana.  And since they are using them to improve their grades, they may even think that you would approve.
  3. Study drugs affect your teen's health.  Side effects include irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, anxiety, paranoia, headaches, insomnia, and diarrhea.  
  4. Study drugs can become addictive.  Especially if your teen has an ongoing busy schedule.  
  5. Your teen should know where you stand.  In a recent survey from Drugfree.org, only 14 percent of teens said their parents talked to them about the dangers of misusing prescription medications.  Yet the same survey found that teens who had learned even a little but about the perils of misusing prescription drugs were 42 percent less likely to abuse prescription drugs than teens that reported learning “nothing.”

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