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Myths and Dangers of Stimulants

As a parent, it can feel like the world is spinning with distractions.  Some children have even more difficulty with attention spans.  Medication is not the only way to address Attention Deficit Disorder. However, prescribed stimulants such as Ritalin, Concerta, Vyvanse or Adderall may be all too common in some circles.

It is possible for children to become dependent or addicted to these drugs.  This is according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. When used incorrectly, they can cause excitement, increase blood pressure, and heart rate, constrict blood vessels, increase blood sugar and change breathing.  They are serious medications.  Taking high doses of a stimulant may result in very high body temperature and an irregular heartbeat, seizures and heart failure. With continued abuse, mental health can be harmed.

When used properly (by those they are prescribed for) the risk of addiction lowers.  However, children and some parents may not understand how serious these drugs are.  Unfortunately, pills are sometimes shared with friends or taken incorrectly.  This increases their danger and can also lead to addiction.

Older children and teens must understand that the effects of these medications change as they age.  You should know that teens report that they use these drugs more frequently.  “One in four” has admitted to trying prescription drugs, according to the most recent survey by the Indiana Youth Institute. Stimulants can change how the body processes alcohol, and even students taking them for legitimate causes should be aware of the risks.  Talk with your children about the additional dangers of alcohol combined with prescription drugs.  Statistics tell us that teenagers are abusing stimulants, painkillers, downers/anti-anxiety medications and more.  Without skills to manage their own stress, they may turn to drugs.

If your child stops taking these medications, they may experience withdrawal symptoms.  For stimulant use, these can include fatigue, depression and disturbance of sleep patterns.

For a child prescribed stimulants, be sure that they are aware that sharing them is not an option.  Be sure that you store them safely and monitor their use closely.  Most importantly, talk to them about how serious these medications really are.   No prescription should be taken lightly.   Learn more about keeping your family members safe at www.BitterPill.IN.gov.

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