Other campuses: ADD, ADHD not uncommon on college campuses

(U-WIRE) TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The problems of attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are widespread – even on college campuses.

Both are neurological disorders of the brain that cause an inability to focus and a tendency toward hyperactivity. Although these disorders are typically found in children, about 60 percent of all cases persist into adulthood. The disorders are treated with a form of medication called methyl phenidate, more commonly known by the names of Ritalin, Adderall or Concerta.

However, there is a fine line between having a real disorder such as ADD or ADHD and only wanting a quick fix for better concentration and the ability to focus when fatigue and stress set in.

Karen Burgess, associate professor of pediatrics in the College of Community Health Sciences, says that the drugs prescribed for most cases of ADD and ADHD are controlled substances.

“Most of the drugs prescribed for these disorders are closely regulated by the Drug Enforcement Association,” Burgess said. “Doses for this type of medicine are once-a-day, which makes it less likely to be abused, but it still happens.”

ADD or ADHD affects approximately 3 to 7 percent of all children and 4 percent of all adults. Males are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed than females, and it can be inherited.

A proper diagnosis for the two disorders can take as long as two months. Misdiagnoses can occur when finding an answer to attention-based problems is a pressing issue and the suitable determining tests are not performed.

“ADHD does get over-diagnosed in some settings, because parents are at their wit’s end, grades are dropping, job performance is slacking, etc.,” Burgess said. “Having an immediate answer to the problem is not always the best solution.”

Even though prescriptions may be given without a firm diagnosis in some cases, taking medication for the disorders when you do not have a prescription can lead to even more serious consequences, Burgess said.

– Kathryn Tuggle