WKRN News 2

Good grade pill: Students take ADHD medication without prescription

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – In high schools across the country, there’s a trend: Students popping pills to try to improve their grades.

They’re taking stimulants like Adderall, but the problem is they’re doing so without a prescription.

“A couple of my friends were prescribed Adderall for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and they decided to sell me some so I could try to focus and get some energy,” a 26-year-old told News 2.

The young man asked News 2 to conceal his identity. We’ll call him “Matt.”

Matt said he started abusing drugs when he was just 12 years old. He didn’t have to look far to get his fix.

He bought Adderall from his friends for $5 a pill.

“I started taking it and I realized I liked it a lot. I could focus and stay up all night. They abused it, I abused it with them, and it just escalated from there,” he told News 2.

Matt said he could study late into the night and do well on tests at school. He became addicted to the prescription drug.

More and more, today’s teenagers are abusing stimulants to help boost their grades so they can compete for colleges.

Dr. Mary Romano in the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is concerned about the growing trend and fears kids are being exposed to unnecessary risks.

“If you have an underlying condition you didn’t know about or a condition you knew about but didn’t realize Adderall would effect it, it can certainly have negative implications on your health. You could put yourself at risk for cardiac complications,” said Dr. Romano.

Stimulant drugs are considered highly addictive and can have side effects. They can include slowed growth in kids, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, heart attack or stroke and psychotic episodes.

“What they’re doing is forfeiting their health in order to think they’re feeling better or doing better in other areas,” said Erik Hines, Founder and President of Addiction Campuses of Tennessee.

Today, Matt is trying to get sober. After abusing Adderall, he eventually moved on to other drugs including prescription painkillers and meth.

To help kick his addictions, he’s enrolled in a faith-based recovery program at Addiction Campuses of Tennessee.

“After a while you realize that you’re not OK anymore. It’s not you that’s in control. You realize that there’s so much more to live for than a substance to keep you going,” Matt told News 2.

The National institute on Drug Abuse, which tracks stimulant abuse, found the percentage of 12th graders reporting non-medical use of amphetamines increased from nearly 7 in 2008 to almost 9 in 2013.

Anyone in need of help for addiction can call Addiction Campuses at 1-866-614-2251.