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How Do I Keep My Prescription Stimulant Safe At College?

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How Do I Keep My Prescription Stimulant Safe At College?

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Patient Presentation
A 17-year-old female with attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity was being seen for her health maintenance examination. She was going to college in the fall and wanted to know what was the best way to keep her methylphenidate prescriptions safe in her dorm room. The past medical history showed she had been diagnosed after having school difficulties when she was in the 5th grade. She had been taking a long-acting medication with good response and some minor weight loss occasionally for the past 7 years.
The pertinent physical exam showed a healthy female with normal vital signs and her weight was at the 10% as it had been for the past 2 years. Her examination showed a Tanner V female without abnormalities. The diagnosis of a healthy female was made. The pediatrician discussed several issues about transitioning to college. “Discretion is important. Don’t go around telling everyone you have the medicine and just take it discretely in your room. Roommates may end up being your lifetime friends or may be someone you cannot trust. Remember they have to earn your trust before you tell them. Keep the medicine locked up. Either you buy a small safe and keep it hidden or there may be one in your room that you can use. Always keep your door locked. That is the first rule,” the pediatrician advised.
Going away to college presents new and exciting opportunities for young adults. It also is an important time for transitioning many adult responsibilities to the young adult too. Keeping safe is important and safety tips for college can be reviewed here.
Any medication can be abused. Prescription stimulants are no different. Normally prescription stimulants are used for treatment of attention deficit disorder, narcolepsy and treatment resistant depression. They can help increase alertness, attention, and energy, cognition, learning and memory. However for these reasons and because they are easy to obtain and relatively inexpensive, prescription stimulants are commonly abused on college campuses. Side effects of prescription stimulant abuse includes addiction, cardiovascular side effects, withdrawal symptoms (fatigue, sleep problems or depression) and even hostility, paranoia or psychosis.
Learning Point
While some of the recommendations for safe use of prescription medications in college are specific for controlled substances like stimulants, they are generally true for any medication. Students and their families should consider the following questions:
Questions for Further Discussion
1. What other advice do you offer your college students and families about prescription medication in a dorm room?
2. What college safety tips do you offer your college students?
Related Cases
To Learn More
To view pediatric review articles on this topic from the past year check PubMed.
Evidence-based medicine information on this topic can be found at, the National Guideline Clearinghouse and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
Information prescriptions for patients can be found at MedlinePlus for these topics: Prescription Drug Abuse and Drugs and Young People.
To view current news articles on this topic check Google News.
To view images related to this topic check Google Images.
To view videos related to this topic check YouTube Videos.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Commonly Abused Drugs Charts.
Available from the Internet at (rev. 1/2016, cited 3/28/2017).

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Misuse of Prescription Drugs.
Available from the Internet at
(rev. 8/2016, cited 3/28/17).
Federal Drug Administration. Is it legal for me to personally import drugs?
Available from the Internet at (rev. 3/20/17, cited 3/28/17).

United States Postal Service. 453 Controlled Substances and Drugs, Publication 52. Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Mail.
Available from the Internet at
(cited 3/28/17).
Donna M. D’Alessandro, MD
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Iowa Children’s Hospital
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This is written by pediatriceducationmin on June 5, 2017.

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