Students regularly use ADHD medications without a prescription to help them study better, the Netherlands Insitute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) reported on Friday. The RIVM believes students are getting these medicines from others who do have prescriptions because it found no indication of the drugs being imported from abroad or bought online on a large scale.
A survey by the Trimbos Institute and the municipal health services GGD showed that nearly 1 in 20 students had used these medications without a prescription.
The most commonly used medicine for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in the Netherlands is methylphenidate, sold under brand names like Ritalin and Concerta. The drug requires a doctor’s prescription because it can have serious side effects like nausea, heart palpitations, insomnia, and, less commonly, anxiety or depression.
The RIVM tested the sewage in the student cities of Amsterdam, Eindhoven, and Utrecht for ritalinic acid, the substance methylphenidate breaks down to in the body, and compared the amounts to the prescriptions issued by doctors in these cities. The two corresponded reasonably well, which indicates that no additional quantities of methylphenidate are entering the cities from other sources in large amounts, the RIVM said.
To prevent the misuse of ADHD medicines, the RIVM advised doctors to prescribe them in smaller quantities. “It is also important that they sufficiently check with the patient whether the drug is working properly and whether its use remains necessary,” The RIVM said.