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How to Help Teens Abusing ADHD Medications?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobiological condition that affects concentration, focus, and impulse. It can cause problems with self-control in both children and adolescents. ADHD could also interfere with teens’ education performance and social relationships because of impulsivity issues.

While medication can help, some teens develop an addiction to these medications. Therefore, understanding the addictive process and medication management can prevent teenagers from developing a substance use disorder (SUD).

What Is ADHD, and How Does It Relate to Addiction?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 10 percent of children in the United States. ADHD creates hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention among those with this disorder. Further, ADHD develops more frequently in males than females.

If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, it’s important to remember that this disorder is not a “moral or character flaw” or a sign of weakness. Successful treatment exists to help improve your child’s quality of life.

Effective treatments for ADHD include:

  • Medications
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Educational interventions such as tutoring

Many children outgrow the symptoms and learn how to cope with them as they get older, but for some kids, treatment may need to continue into adulthood for them to live up to their full potential.

Developing a Substance Use Disorder

Youth with ADHD experience an increased risk for addiction and other psychiatric issues such as anxiety or depression.

ADHD can also lead to addiction because of the following:

  • Inability to regulate themselves during periods of high-stress levels.
  • The inability of individuals with ADHD to regulate their emotions or moods leads them to self-destructive behavior.
  • Have a hard time resisting impulses, which leads them toward risky behaviors like substance use and gambling.
  • Struggle with impulsiveness or lack of self-control when faced with temptation or stressors.
  • Difficulty in delaying gratification or resisting temptation.
  • Impulsiveness leads to a lack of self-control over one’s actions.

The Ramifications of Teens Developing an ADHD Medication Dependency

Teens use the stimulant medications that have been prescribed to them for their ADHD to get high. Stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin are used as a “study drug” by students who need help staying focused on studying or cramming for tests.

How Do ADHD Medications Work?

ADHD medications work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, and these drugs can provide a sense of motivation that increases their focus and ability to complete tasks. Once teens feel like they need more and more of their ADHD medication to keep these good feelings, they become dependent on their ADHD medications to get by and feel good. As such, some teens may take more than prescribed to maintain the effects of the stimulation.

Other activities or therapies cease to work unless they receive proper treatment for this SUD. We recommend that parents monitor their child’s intake of ADHD medication. Such precaution will reduce the likelihood of their teen abusing prescription medicines and become mindful about what activities their teen might be engaging in while using these substances.

Signs That a Teen Is Addicted to ADHD Medication

The first signs of a SUD might involve teens spending too much time on their medication, missing activities they once enjoyed and needing to use substances more frequently.

Further symptoms include:

  • Legal Trouble: Teens may get into trouble with the law if they take their medications “too much” or share them with others. Teenagers who misuse ADHD drugs could get into fights or participate in criminal behavior.
  • Depression: Many teens report feeling depressed when they abuse their ADHD medication. It can happen because the drug changes brain chemistry and can reduce dopamine levels in the brain.
  • Other Substance Use: There is a chance that teens abusing their ADHD medication will start using other substances like alcohol or marijuana. Such behavior could lead to addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

How Can You Help?

At Clearfork Academy, we recommend talking to your child about the dangers of using ADHD medications from the get-go. If you notice any changes, it’s essential to speak with your child’s doctor to determine whether the medicine should be changed or stopped. Early intervention can also prevent co-occurring disorders from developing.

It is essential to encourage your child to seek professional help when struggling with addiction. Educational counseling and therapy are incredibly beneficial for learning how to manage ADHD without relying on meds. A reputable treatment center like Clearfork Academy will offer these options in a structured plan.

ADHD is a condition that affects a person’s ability to focus and control impulses. If not appropriately managed, teenagers can develop a dependency on the medications prescribed for their ADHD. At Clearfork Academy, we can help you and your teen learn ways to manage their ADHD and medication before developing a dependence. We offer a variety of treatment programs and therapies to address the needs and challenges specific to teens. Our treatments and therapies include residential care, outpatient therapy sessions, group counseling sessions, and individualized care. With us, teenagers will attain the skills necessary to develop the confidence and resiliency needed to manage their mental health and substance use disorders. After treatment, we also remain a point of support to ensure your teen always has access to help. If your teenager is currently struggling to manage their ADHD and is developing a dependency on medication, it is time to get help. Find out more by calling (817) 259-2597

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