New Trend: Adademic Doping

September 8, 2006

A few months ago, I was reading my latest issue of W Magazine. In it, there was an article about how starlets are achieving the latest “skin and bones” look that have been seen on actresses such as, Kate Bosworth, Lindsey Lohan and let’s not forget Nicole Richie. How did they manage to lose SO much weight, and SO quickly? The answer was Adderall.

For those who do not suffer from ADHD, the drugs Ritalin and Adderall often give the same rush as using a stimulant, such as cocaine, speed or methamphetamine.

But, as a parent, would you seek out drug usage, aptly called Academic Doping to give your child an “edge”?

Parents want their kids to excel in school, and they’ve heard about the illegal use of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall for “academic doping.” Hoping to obtain the drugs legally, they pressure pediatricians for them. Some even request the drugs after openly admitting they don’t believe their child has ADHD.

“I spoke with [some] colleagues the other day and they mentioned three cases recently where parents blatantly asked for the medication so that their children would perform better in school, yet there were no other indications that the child had ADHD,” says Dr. Nick Yates, a pediatrician and director of medical ethics for Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y.

These stimulant prescriptions are used in an effort to enhance focus, concentration and mental stamina. This first started on college campuses, but now the problem is filtering down to secondary schools, and more parents are playing a role in obtaining prescription ADHD medication for their teenagers.

But for people, especially children, who don’t suffer from ADHD, the side effects are terrible! They include difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, irritability, stomachaches, headaches, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness and tics and tremors. There have been concerns that ADHD medication temporarily delays growth, and one study found that up to 5 percent of children experience tactile hallucinations, often involving a sensation that bugs or snakes are crawling on their bodies. Lovely.

So, how do you feel about this growing trend? How far would YOU go so that your child brings home straight A’s?