Facts for Teachers

Psychostimulants, also known as stimulants, are mind-altering drugs that usually speed up the body's functions, such as heart rate.

They are commonly known as "uppers" because they elevate mood and increase energy.

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However, in children, stimulants have been known to do the exact opposite. In children, stimulants are sometimes used to slow the body down and reduce hyperactivity.

This is why psychostimulants are often prescribed to children labeled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

teacher with students

As a teacher, you see many kids every day. Throughout your teaching, you will probably encounter many children diagnosed with ADHD who are currently taking psychostimulants to reduce unwanted behaviors in the classroom.

You may already be familiar with some of these drugs. Common stimulants used to in cases of ADHD include:
  • Adderallmedicine

  • Concerta

  • Dexedrine

  • Focalin

  • Metadate

  • Methylin

  • Ritalin
Parents may even contact you or your school with concerns about putting their children on drugs for ADHD and disruptive behaviors.

Before giving any advice, it is important for you to know the facts about psychostimulants.

Fact 1: Psychostimulants have many dangerous side effects

In the last few years, many drug companies have issued warnings about side effects of psychostimulants, including:
  • addiction
  • stunted growthsad child
  • aggression
  • violent behavior
  • depression
  • hallucinations
  • headaches
  • suicidal thoughts
  • seizures
  • insomnia
  • heart problems
  • liver problems
  • vomiting
  • mood swings
  • weight loss
  • psychosis
  • stroke
  • cardiac arrest
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) even posts warnings of "sudden death" on boxes of Ritalin. Ritalin has been known to cause "sudden death" in children and teens with heart problems.

Fact 2: Psychostimulants are addictive

One side effect of psychostimulants is addiction. After some time, the body becomes addicted to the chemicals in the drug. 

child crying
When a person stops taking the drug, the body reacts to the sudden loss of this chemical it has depended on for so long. The results of this dependence include some very disturbing side effects.

Severe depression and suicide are two alarming side effects of psychostimulant withdrawal.

Fact 3: Some psychostimulants are classified as "Schedule II Narcotics"

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration classifies Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine as schedule II narcotics (schedule here means "list"). These drugs are in the same category as cocaine, methamphetamines, and opium.

Schedule II narcotics are considered dangerous because they are highly addictive and often abused.

Fact 4: About 2.3 million teens have abused psychostimulants

Some people buy and use psychostimulants without a prescription as "performance enhancements" or to "get high."

Amphetamines, such as Adderall, are often abused in these ways.

teenage boy

Some street names for amphetamines are:
  • speed

  • uppers

  • crosses

  • hearts

  • LA turnaround
A 2012 study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that over 2.5% of high school seniors had abused Ritalin during that year. Almost 8% of high school seniors abused Adderall.

Fact 5: Psychostimulants are often a gateway drug to the abuse of other drugs

A "gateway drug" is a drug that leads to abuse of more dangerous drugs, such as cocaine, heroine, and methamphetamines.

Studies have shown that teens who use psychostimulants are more likely to abuse other drugs.

man reading report
Click here to read more about the effects of psychostimulants:

Psychostimulants: The Facts about the Effects

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