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Stimulant Abuse by School Age Children: A Guide for School Officials

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2001
7 pages
This guide discusses why medications such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and amphetamine, which are used in the treatment of attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADHD), are being abused by school-age children and how school officials can institute procedures to counter this abuse.
The Drug Enforcement Administration recommends that schools prohibit students from carrying ADHD medication to or from school. A parent/guardian or other responsible adult should deliver to and remove these medications for each child from the school. The medications should be provided to the school in a properly labeled container that identifies the name of the medication, the dosage, and the frequency of administration. One person, preferably the school nurse, should have primary control of the medications. An incoming/outgoing medication inventory log would enable school staff to track amounts of medication received and dispensed. Further, schools should not allow a student to self-administer ADHD medication outside the presence of school staff. The school drug inventory should be secure, and unused medication not removed from the school by a parent or other responsible adult should be destroyed by the school nurse in the presence of a witness and with proper documentation. When taken as prescribed, these medications have a calming effect on hyperactive children and a "focusing" effect on those children who have trouble concentrating. These medications are misused when they are consumed for their psychoactive effects, i.e., to get high, stay awake for extended periods to study or party, to lose weight, or to mix with alcohol or other drugs to enhance their effects. Abuse involves increased doses and frequent episodes of binge use followed by severe depression and an overpowering desire to continue using the drugs. Typically, abusers of these drugs receive them from individuals with ADHD who have been prescribed the medications