Tween and Teenagers
Taking Drugs for Good Grades – Do Teens Have Too Much Pressure?
With the pressure for good grades, high test scores, and college admissions, there is a new scary trend attracting more and more teens. High school and college students are turning to prescription stimulants to help them get academically ahead of their peers. The use of drugs in schools is not a new phenomenon, but the reason for using them is the startling new trend that parents should be aware of.
Adderall, as well as other amphetamines prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is now being used by many teens that don’t actually have this disorder. They obtain the drug from other peers that are selling it (from their own prescriptions), or convince well-meaning doctors to prescribe the medicine. One teen told the New York Times:
“I lie to my psychiatrist — I expressed feelings I didn’t really have, knowing the consequences of it… I tell the doctor, ‘I find myself very distracted, and I feel this really deep pain inside, like I’m anxious all the time,’ or something like that.”
These drugs, which help calm those with ADHD, can give those without the disorder a jolt of stamina needed to focus longer and harder on studying for tests. With students competing for high grades to obtain college scholarships, and the hope for admission into the right college or university, kids are faced with an enormous pressure to succeed. Not exactly cheating, these drugs do give an unfair advantage to those students who take them since they enhance their ability to perform on high stakes tests. They may give them what they are looking for, but at what cost?
Adderall , Ritalin, and Focalin, just some of the drugs used, are as addictive as cocaine and morphine, which means that kids are facing dangerous consequences. Depression, mood swings, heart irregularities, and aggressive withdrawals are all short-term consequences of abusing these drugs. Doctors aren’t sure exactly what the long-term consequences look like, but since research has shown that the adolescent brain is still maturing, these drugs may severely impact learning, memory, and attention.
As a mom, this trend is down-right scary. I don’t have teenagers yet, but I know the pressure to succeed starts young in school with tiered class structures, an over-abundance of extra-curricular activities, and the desire kids have to please their parents. Of course I want the best for my kids, including a strong education, but their health is more important than grades or an Ivy League degree.
What do you think, do we as parents place too much pressure on our kids to succeed, or is this just another teenage fad that will pass?