Drugs given to help manage ADHD can be very effective when they are prescribed for kids who have been properly diagnosed. However, when these drugs are prescribed as study aids they can become addictive and can produce serious cardiac risks.
Dr. William D. Graf, professor of pediatrics and neurology at Yale University School of Medicine New Haven, CT, and five colleagues became concerned when they noticed the increasing number of physicians prescribing ADHD drugs like Ritalin and Adderall- to perfectly healthy children.
The dramatic increase in the number of children taking stimulants and other "study drugs," as they are popularly known, seems to back up his anecdotal evidence.
The Yale doctors have publicly taken a position on this topic in a paper that offers guidance to physicians and discusses the ethics of prescribing stimulant drugs to children who do not have ADHD in order to help them do better in school.
The paper suggests that physicians have a moral obligation to prevent misuse of medication.
It concludes that the practice of "neuroenhancements" isn't justifiable. It adds that the prescription of these drugs is inadvisable because of "numerous social, developmental, and professional integrity issues."
"We are a highly competitive society, and we know some physicians are prescribing these at a parent's request," Graf said. "Other parents have told us they felt doctors pushed these drugs on their children."
Several studies have looked at the increase number of students who are taking study drugs. A 2004 study notes that in some U.S. schools "the proportion of boys taking methylphenidate (Ritalin) exceeds the highest estimates of the prevalence of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder."
Another study suggests that about 16% of the population of some high schools and colleges use prescription drugs as study aids.
Other college professors have noticed the increase in college students