FOX19 Investigates: Students, stimulants and campus crackdown

FOX19 Investigates: Students, stimulants and campus crackdown

(FOX19) - Colleges around the country are buckling down on students swapping stimulants.

Studies estimate more than a third of college students take attention deficit disorder drugs – drugs they weren't prescribed.

They claim the drugs help them focus and give them more energy to study. They often get the medication from friends with legal prescriptions.

Some college health clinics are now asking students with prescriptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, to sign contracts not to sell or give pills to friends.

"These are unfortunate kind of barriers for those who need the treatment," said Dr. Ted Grace, director of student health services at Southern Illinois University.

Studies show rampant misuse and abuse of ADHD medication on college campuses. One student, who wished to remain anonymous, explained he didn't get his prescription until his first year of college.

"I had a bunch of friends that were on them, and I had taken some of theirs and that helped me," he said.

So, he asked a doctor to write him a prescription. While he said he never sold his medication, he admitted to giving some away.

Schools are having a hard time keeping up with the demand and expense for treatment and diagnosis. They're also concerned about medical liability. Now many are enacting new policies.

"Recently a number of campuses have announced that they will no longer prescribe stimulant medication for those students with Attention Deficit Disorder," said Dr. Jerald Kay of the American Psychiatry Association.

Those schools are leaving it to the student to get their meds back home or off-campus. Other schools have decided they'll fill prescriptions, but won't do any diagnosing.

Other schools are making it much more difficult for students to get their hands on the drugs, even for those already diagnosed. Students have to meet certain testing requirements, which often include signing a contract.

"It states they will notify us if they are prescribed medication by anyone else, if they are on any other addicting kinds of medication that wouldn't mix. They promise that they will not abuse any drugs," said Dr. Grace. "They promise not to share or sell their medications to roommates.  And importantly they promise to follow through with therapy."

The contract also gives consent for periodic random drug testing.

"If we think they may be coming in to get a prescription to sell it on the street, that allows us the opportunity to determine that they're truly taking the medication," he said.

But not everyone agrees these changes are all good. Ruth Hughes heads up the advocacy group 'Children and Adults with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder'. She's worried this stigmatizes students who need the drugs to succeed.

"We're making it harder and harder for them to have access to good treatment and to have support. You know, if somebody has asthma and has to take asthma medication every day or diabetes or high blood pressure, we wouldn't question their need for medication," SAID Dr. Hughes.

Some schools also consider the unauthorized use of the drugs as a form of cheating and failure to meet the school's honor code, meaning students could also face expulsion.

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