Michigan – A study led by researchers from the University of Michigan found that students who take prescribed medicines to treat Attention/Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are more likely to be targeted by bullies. The paper was published on Friday in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

The recent study found that kids and teenagers who take ADHD medications are more likely to be bullied at school. Credit: Shutterstock

“Kids who have a prescription are twice as likely to be victimized as those without ADHD,” affirmed Quyen Epstein-Ngo, a research assistant Psychology professor at the University of Michigan.

The study revealed that teens were either having their medication stolen or were being forced to give it away, being four and a half times more likely to be frequently bullied if the incident has happened in the previous 12 months. Those entering high school constitute the main target since, at that age, they are more-than-ever longing to be accepted and are physically vulnerable.

For this study, a survey of nearly 5,000 middle and high school students was conducted in five different public schools across five years. Researchers analyzed those who had recently been prescribed medication to treat the disorder; those whose drugs had ever been diverted; and kids with no ADHD diagnosis. The  research is the first to look at the correlation between stimulant medication and the patients’ relationship with peers.

According to previous studies, kids who have ADHD find it difficult to make friends, have more anxiety and are often victims of abuse. The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has informed that stimulant medications have a calming effect and, therefore, are commonly prescribed to patients who are badly inattentive, hyperactive or impulsive.

Epstein-Ngo remarked that prescription stimulants are some of the most misused and shared or sold drugs among teenagers in the U.S. About 20% of the students who took ADHD meds reported being approached to share or sell them and almost half of them actually did.

Psychologists explained that bullies wanted ADHD drugs because they get high off them. Besides, those medicines increase the effects of other drugs, which can lead to very dangerous consequences. Bullies might also want them to study for finals or exams.

ADHD cases have steadily increased in the past few years. It raised 40% between 2003 and 2011. It is now estimated that an attention disorder has been detected in one in 10 children. Between the period of 2007 and 2011, prescriptions spiked 27%.

Source: Time