Kids Taking ADHD Drugs Twice as Likely to be Bullied
Kids and teens who take prescription medicines to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be twice as likely to be bullied as their peers, according to report in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.
The situation is even worse for adolescents who sell their prescribed drugs to other kids (who often want the stimulants for study or diet aids). They had more than four times greater odds of being bullied than their peers without ADHD.
To determine the connection between ADHD medication and bullying, the researchers surveyed middle and high school students annually for four years. The surveys involved nearly 5,000 youngsters. About 15 percent had an ADHD diagnosis, and roughly 4 percent had been prescribed stimulants within the past 12 months.
Among those who took ADHD medications, about 20 percent reported being approached to sell or share them, and about half of them did so when asked.
Overall, about 2 percent of teens reported regularly experiencing both physical and emotional bullying, but the odds of frequent bullying of any type were 79 percent higher for adolescents with an ADHD diagnosis who’d been prescribed stimulants during the past 12 months, compared to adolescents never diagnosed with ADHD.
The odds of past-year frequent bullying of any type was roughly three times higher for adolescents diagnosed with ADHD.
Researchers point out that teens with ADHD who take medications may have mental health problems that make them more likely targets of bullying than children with ADHD who don’t take stimulants.