ADHD Drugs May be Prescription for Bullying

ADHD Drugs May be Prescription for BullyingADHD Drugs May be Prescription for Bullying

Kids and teens who take prescription medicine to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be twice as likely to be bullied as their peers who don’t have this mental health problem, a study suggests.

Adolescents who sold their prescribed drugs to other kids – who might want the stimulants for study or diet aids – had more than four times greater odds of being bullied than their peers without ADHD, the US study also found.

“Our findings show that there is some connection between a prescription for stimulant medications and bullying, even after accounting for the fact that adolescents with ADHD may have difficulties with peers or may have other problem behaviors associated with victimization,” said lead study author Quyen Epstein-Ngo, a researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, reports Reuters Health.

To assess the connection between ADHD medication and bullying, Ngo and colleagues surveyed middle and high school students annually for four years.

Ultimately, the surveys involved nearly 5,000 youngsters. About 15% had an ADHD diagnosis and roughly 4% were prescribed stimulants in the past 12 months, researchers reported in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Among those who took ADHD medications, 20% reported being approached to sell or share them, and half of them did so when asked.

Overall, 2% of the teens reported regularly experiencing both physical and emotional bullying, while 15% said they had never been victimized. Slightly more than 1% said they had regularly experienced just physical bullying, while 2.5% reported frequent emotional mistreatment.

The odds of frequent bullying of any type were 79% higher for adolescents with an ADHD diagnosis who’d been prescribed stimulants during the past 12-months, compared to adolescents never diagnosed with ADHD.

Bullying might be more common for children who agree to give away drugs because they have access to a medication that other teens want, potentially making them targets of aggression designed to gain access to the stimulants, Dr. Frances Turcotte Benedict of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, said.