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The Boston Globe



Student health: Fighting abuse of stimulants

Student health centers are a necessity to college life. On-campus medical staffs treat students, many living away from home and their regular doctors, for conditions that range from the common cold to severe depression. An increasing number of clinics, however, are opting out of diagnosing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder among their students or are tightening rules on prescribing the much-misused stimulant medications used to treat it. This is a fair decision as long as schools refer students with legitimate needs to trusted off-campus providers.

Taking stimulants, such as Adderall, to improve focus and to gain an academic edge isn’t rare today — research suggests that more than one-third of college students illicitly take ADHD drugs. Abuse of stimulants has been linked to anxiety, depression, and student suicides. Harvard is currently litigating a medical malpractice suit brought by the father of a student who committed suicide. In 2007, the student received an ADHD diagnosis and Adderall prescription after meeting with a university nurse only once.

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