Can ADHD and other psychotropic medications cause youth to become future addicts? While there is no definitive evidence of that, a study survey shows that a third of young kids age 12 to 25 in the USA say that they misuse these drugs.

What are psychotropic medications?

Psychotropic medications are used to treat several types of illnesses, including ADHD and ADD. Some of the illnesses that these medicines treat are:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Depression
  • Bipolar
  • OCD
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
  • ADD

These illnesses can be debilitating and scary for family members as well as the patient.

The groups of medications used are:

  • Stimulants (prescribed)
  • Depressants (prescribed)
  • Opioids (prescribed)
  • Hallucinogens (illicit)
  • Marijuana (illicit)

What the survey showed

The survey showed of 110,556 US 12-25 year olds who took part in the 2015-2018 National Survey of Drug Use and Health Sampling, 35% said they had taken a prescribed psychotropic drug in the past 12 months.

31% of those said they misused the drugs. While opioids are the most commonly misused prescribed drug, stimulants and tranquilizers misuse was higher; about 45% of users admitted to this.

On top of misusing the prescribed medication, 85% said they also misused other substances such as cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, inhalants, or hallucinogens. 

This sort of behavior can lead to addiction to one or more types of substances.

As the user becomes older, the misuse of such medications increases; this should alarm parents and caregivers. It should be reason enough to discuss this issue with your youngster and increase attention to their use of the medication.

Signs to watch for

If your child is prescribed psychotropic drugs, watch that they use the medication correctly.

Pay attention to signs of misuse. Signs include:

Stimulants

  • Enhanced alertness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Lower appetite
  • Trouble or changes in sleep patterns
  • Nervousness
  • Apprehension
  • Mistrust

Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives

  • Sleepiness
  • Uncertainty
  • Unstable walking
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of concentration
  • Faintness
  • Reduced memory
  • Slowed breathing

These are signs of misuse of ADHD and ADD medication.

Then, of course, they can also be consuming alcohol or marijuana with the medication.

What to do about the misuse

If your child is misusing their medication, there are a couple of things you can do.

First, talk to your child and explain that you will not tolerate that kind of behavior. Medication is prescribed by dosage for a reason, and the doctor expects it to be used at that dosage for the reason it was prescribed.

Second, depending on the age of the child, you can dispense the medication to them in the correct dosage and keep the rest out of their control.

Third, if you suspect there is another substance misuse, you can discuss treatment.

449 Recovery treats teens to stop misuse and addiction to substances while treating underlying conditions known as a co-occurring or dual diagnosis in Orange County. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment therapies and the forms of insurance and payment we accept.