Warning To Doctors and Parents: Healthy Children Should Avoid “Study Drugs”

English: Even though the SAT or ACT is preferr...
English: Even though the SAT or ACT is preferred in different places, all states offer both. According to the preference map, 24 states prefer the ACT, while slightly more, 26, prefer the SAT supercedes in place of File:Sat-act preference.PNG Source accessed March 18, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you remember your SAT score?

Depending on how long ago you took the SAT, you might remember that SAT stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test and then it changed to be referred to as the Scholastic Assessment Test; however, now it is just called the SAT and the acronym doesn’t stand for anything. The acronym is now considered an “empty acronym.” But all of this extraneous information aside, it is relevant to remember that this test was first introduced in 1926 and for the past 87 years high school juniors and seniors have proceeded through this “rite of passage” realizing that their score can impact their ability to apply to and receive acceptance to a school of higher learning: university, college, community college or technical schools.

Did you ever take the SAT? If so, do you remember your score? There is probably a good chance that if you did take it, your score is forever etched in your memory. Depending on how you fared it is either a very nice memory or a terrible memory. All things being equal (even though they seldom are), SAT results measure one’s math skills, literacy skills and writing skills, as well as one’s ability to take a standardized test. In other words, while a tester can be quite bright and well educated they may struggle with staying focused on the task at hand; and therefore, score lower than expected.

Over the last three or four decades, SAT prep courses have been designed and many parents will enroll their children in these courses to help their teenagers learn how to take the test, how to study, and how to stay focused on the day of the test. It seems that some parents will even go so far as to approach their child’s physician inquiring about doing a medical work-up for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), so that their child can obtain a prescription for “study drugs,” such as Adderall or Ritalin.

The American Academy of Neurology warns doctor regarding prescribing ADHD medications

This week the American Academy of Neurology issued an official position statement on ethical considerations when prescribing neuroenhancement drugs. This official position statement was published on March 13, 2013, in the academy’s journal, Neurology, “Pediatric neuroenhancement: Ethical, legal, social and neurodevelopmental implications.”

An overview…

CBS News reports that the press release from the statement’s author Dr. William Graf, a professor of pediatric neurology at Yale University spells it out quite clearly: “Doctors caring for children and teens have a professional obligation to always protect the best interests of the child, to protect vulnerable populations, and prevent the misuse of medication. The practice of prescribing these drugs, called neuroenhancements, for healthy students is not justifiable.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2008 that drugs like Ritalin and Adderall were given to three million children each year. According to a 2012 study ADHD drug prescriptions for children under the age of 17 rose 46% from 2002 to 2012. CBS News reported:

“The statement aims to give doctors a primer on the ethical, social, legal and developmental issues surrounding prescribing ADHD drugs to children. Doctors are asked to explore any evidence of direct or indirect coercion or pressure from peers, parents and teachers or other adults to use ADHD drugs, and explain how giving these neuroenhancements may alter a child’s developmental process of learning to make autonomous choices.”

Dr. Graf’s suggestions for doctors to explore with parents and children…

  • Doctors should speak directly to children about the medication request, as it could be triggered by another condition such as anxiety or depression.
  • Doctors should suggest affective alternatives to neuroenhancement prescriptions, such as tutoring or getting more rest, better nutrition and exercise.

A CBS News Video discussing “students turning to ‘good grade drugs’ for help”

If you are having trouble viewing this video, you can see it here.

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