Saturday, January 2, 2010

Stimulant Use in Non-ADDers

There has been an increasing number of high school and college students who are taking stimulant medication for AD(H)D. Are They all truly AD(H)D? Probably not, since the prevalence of AD(H)D in the population would be absurdly high. Along these lines, I recently learned that several college mental health clinics will not prescribe stimulants, and insist that students use community resources outside of the college to get a prescription for stimulants. Clinic staff have figured out that the number of students asking for stimulants keeps increasing.

In light of recent developments, some professionals are arguing that non-ADDers as well could get an “edge” using stimulant medication. The original studies in this did show that many “normals” benefited academically from stimulants. Not surprising, since most of these medications are amphetamine derivatives, which improve focus and concentration.

Why not prescribe stimulants to all students in order to improve their academic work? First of all, to my knowledge, there have been no follow-up studies of stimulant use starting in adulthood. Also, there are side effects, some of them medical, and many taking stimulants are not regularly monitored.

So my question is: Do we give stimulants medication to any adult, AD(H)D or not, to improve their academics? Strangely enough, a few years ago, some advocated putting Prozac (the wonder antidepressant drug), in the water supply to benefit everyone, depressed or not. But meanwhile we’ve learned about all the problems that Prozac caused. Now, stimulants are the wonder drugs.

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