Safe Use

Youth-Specific Issues

Study Drugs

Prescription stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin are effective tools to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Unfortunately, they’ve become popular on college campuses for the wrong reasons, and are now known as “study drugs” to focus attention.

Youth-Specific Issues
Youth-Specific Issues
Youth-Specific Issues

Study Drug Consequences

  • You can go to jail. It’s a felony in Colorado to use or possess a prescription drug that is not prescribed to you. It’s also a felony to provide prescription drugs to someone else.
  • ADHD drugs can be addictive, and they can open the door to other addictions.
  • Possible side-effects include heart palpitations, an increase in blood pressure, quickened  breathing, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, headaches and insomnia.
  • Because it increases blood pressure, there’s the risk of stroke, heart attack and sudden death.
  • When a friend provides you a stimulant, dosage requirements specific to you are unknown, increasing the danger.
  • Psychosis, schizophrenia and paranoia can persist long after use has stopped.

Cough Syrup

Teens have been known to drink their parents’ cough syrup for non-medical reasons. Always monitor your cough syrup so you’ll notice if some is missing.

If some is and you suspect your teen, make sure they’re alert when you talk to them, and then be calm and direct. Tell them about the dangers associated with drinking cough syrup, and that you monitor the bottles and know when some is missing. Dangerous effects can include:2

  • Hallucinations
  • Lack of motivation
  • Addiction
  • Loss of coordination
  • Numbness
  • Nausea
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased or decreased heart rate
  • Brain damage
  • Overdose
  • Death

This can’t be a one-time talk, though. You want to begin an ongoing conversation about the dangers of taking anything out of your medicine cabinet. Ask what drugs have you used? How often? What do you think can happen if you continue to use them?

Drugs On Instagram

Recent reports have detailed a new trend – teens using “Instagram” to illegally obtain prescription medicine and other drugs. “Instagram” is a social media service that offers a fun way to share your life with friends through pictures and videos. The site allows for some anonymity, and drug dealers are using it to advertise their goods.

What can a parent do? Obviously, monitoring their teens’ online habits is important. But they can also check their “Instagram” search history and check hashtags. Discussions with your kids about this disturbing trend are another way to start a dialogue about the dangers of abusing a “study drug.”


  1. “New Survey: Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Stimulants Becoming Behavior Among College Students, Young Adults, Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, 11/13/14.
  2. Accessed 1/12/15.