Your student is highly motivated to get straight A’s. She studies without outside encouragement. She works on the weekends and during school breaks. She strives for perfection. Her dream is to go to an Ivy League school. With a dream student like this, you are probably thinking that you don’t need to worry about drugs and alcohol. After all, it would be detrimental to her grades, so surely, she would never even think about partying.
While you might be right about the partying, you may be wrong about the drugs. Highly motivated students are very dedicated to the end result- their GPA and getting into a top school. Cheating and drug use has actually increased among our academically motivated because it is no longer about the process but about the outcome. That means they make take some extra steps to increase their focus and energy. Adderall is a drug of choice among highly motivated teens, and it is easy to get in the halls of high school. Teens who may never do drugs may give into the temptation during tough times like finals week. I’m hearing this a lot right now from teens. Their friends are giving into the temptation. And I can tell you right now, it’s not the “stoners” who are taking unprescribed Adderall. It’s the high achievers.
Because some kids have friends who are taking Adderall that is prescribed by a doctor, it is not seen as a harmful substance. In fact, I’ve heard of parents giving their children the thumbs up to take it during times that require a lot of studying. While Adderall is useful for kids who have ADHD (who have a certain chemical makeup), it acts as a psychostimulant or an upper for those without ADHD. It can cause an elevated heart rate, headaches, and jitteriness, and insomnia just to name a few side effects. It can also be addictive.
In addition to all of the negative side effects, it can also foster the idea that she is not able to study and make good grades without the assistance of drugs. This is a slippery slope. If it starts in high school, it can rev up to dangerous levels in college. It can create unhealthy lifelong patterns.
So, what do you do as a parent?
If you have read any of my previous blogs or heard me present, you already know the answer to this.
TALK TO YOUR TEEN.
Have a curiosity conversation about Adderall. Ask them if they’ve heard of it. Ask them if they now people who take it during finals. The conversation isn’t about accusing them but rather about finding out their point of view and letting your point of view be known as well. For this conversation, it is very important that your teen knows that their health and well-being come before grades, and that your love is not tied to their GPA.
P.S. If your teen has a prescription for Adderall, have a talk with them as well. It’s very tempting to sell their own prescription for a handful of cash. Not only is it illegal, it also means that your teen isn’t taking the medication that she needs.