Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Brain boost drugs ‘growing trend’

BBC News:

Increasing numbers of people are using prescription drugs like Ritalin to boost alertness and brain power, say experts.

Up to a fifth of adults, including college students and shift workers, may be using cognitive enhancers, a poll of 1,400 by Nature journal suggests.

The piece goes on to say that there isn’t long term data on how safe this is. Professor Sahakian who carried out the research says:

“The use of these cognitive enhancing drugs is spreading to younger and younger people. That’s a concern.

“Methylphenidate does have substantial abusive potential so we have to be worried about substance abuse problems and the use of these drugs in the developing brain in children.”

Filed under: medicines

ADHD and Ritalin

There’s been a lot of coverage of new NICE guidance on the use of Ritalin.

The Times:

Research from the Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service suggests that 80 per cent of teachers do not feel competent to support children with ADHD and that few are acquainted with the techniques that can be used effectively to help them.

And elsewhere in the same paper:

Most children with ADHD should instead be offered psychological therapy
to improve their behaviour, backed up by training to support their
parents and teachers, the National Institute for Health and Clinical
Excellence (NICE) and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental
Health (NCCMH) recommend.

See also The Guardian, Mail, and BBC for other stories.

As is traditional, when I’ve written about Ritalin on this blog, I’d point to the paper that DrugScope did a little while ago about how schools can manage Ritalin should they need to.

Filed under: medicines,

“Smart Drugs” for all?

The Mail:

Schools will soon have to ensure all pupils have access to brain-enhancing ‘smart drugs’, according to officially funded experts.

They said teachers risk claims of bias against poorer children if they fail to give all pupils the same chance to take a new generation of pills which boost attention, concentration and memory.

Researchers predict that within a generation, cognition enhancing drugs – or ‘cogs’ – will be so advanced that parents and teachers will be able to ‘manipulate biology’ to enhance pupils’ brainpower.

I’m pretty certain we’ve heard some of this stuff before.

You may also find this site which is about the use of performance enhancing drugs of some interest in this context.

Filed under: medicines

Prescription Drugs

I know that the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse have started an inquiry into the misuse of prescription drugs and this is something that the chair, Dr Brian Iddon, is particularly concerned about.

It looks like his concerns are shared by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America which has published a booklet, Teen Prescription Drug Abuse: An Emerging Threat,  on the issue which they describe as an emerging threat to young people.

This has been backed up with a poster campaign (example to the right) aimed at parents.

Their publication talks about the following types of prescription drugs:

  • Painkillers (prescribed to treat pain), including codeine, oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, and brands such as Vicodin, Tylenol with Codeine, OxyContin, and Percocet.
  • Depressants (prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders), including barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and brands such as Klonopin, Nembutal, Soma, Valium, and Xanax.
  • Stimulants (mainly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD), including amphetamines, methylphenidate, and brands such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Ritalin.

Looking at the last Smoking Drinking and Drug Use Amongst Young People In England the only prescription drug that seems to ask about are tranquilisers.  And there the current evidence is that very few young people are abusing them (0.6% say they have ever taken one).

So perhaps – as with crystal meth – we’re currently not experiencing the same levels of abuse as the Americans are, or alternatively we’re not asking the right questions.

Any thoughts?

Filed under: medicines,

Danger drugs designed for schizophrenics used to calm children

The Daily Mail:

Thousands of children with behavioural problems are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs with dangerous side effects, doctors warn.

The powerful tranquillisers, designed to treat psychosis and schizophrenia in adults, are being used to calm children who are simply hyperactive.

Around 8,000 youngsters are taking anti- psychotics such as Risperdal and Zyprexa despite the fact that these have been linked to a host of health problems from diabetes to brain damage, BBC1’s Panorama reports.

Whether children should prescribed these drugs is one question but if they are then it seems like a good reason for guidance on handling these medicines to have been developed I’d have thought.

Filed under: medicines,

Medicine handling tips for care sector

Handling Medicines in Social CareChildren Now have a story about new guidance produced by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain about handling medicines in social care settings.

According to the new guidance, special residential schools and boarding schools should consider storing medicine young people need on a regular basis and help them to take their medicine.

In childcare and early education settings, the medication policy should include getting written consent from parents to dispense medication to a child, which medicines a worker can give once they are trained and what supervision there should be if the child takes their own medicine.

For children in foster care, the guidance says handling medicine will not differ from normal households, but carers should store medicine properly, support children taking their own medication and be given full information about when and how they should give it.

The guidance itself can be downloaded here.  Unfortunately the guidance, it seems to me, misses a trick in failing to remind social care settings of the need to deliver drug education to the children and young people in their care.

Perhaps it ought to be read in conjunction with the NCB/Drug Education Forum booklet Talking about Alcohol and Other Drugs and DrugScope’s Ritalin (Methylphenidate) in Schools.

The Society’s press release is here.

Filed under: medicines,

Child use of antidepressants up four-fold

The Telegraph reports the rise in the numbers of children and young people prescribed antidepressant drugs:

The use of antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs among schoolchildren has more than quadrupled in the last decade, it is revealed today.

New figures show that GPs are prescribing pills in record numbers to combat stress, violent behaviour and even tiredness.

Under-16s were given drugs for mental health problems more than 631,000 times last year, compared to just 146,000 in the mid-Nineties.

As we’ve emphasised before when these stories are reported in the media schools and others need to think about their strategies for managing these drugs, and will find DrugScope’s guidance of help.

The same story is covered in The Guardian.

Filed under: medicines

‘400,000 British children’ taking hyperactivity drugs

The Daily Mail report on the number of children being given drugs relating to their behaviour:

NHS spending on drugs to treat child hyperactivity has tripled in only five years.

Almost 400,000 aged between five and 19 are believed to be on the drugs despite doctors’ fears about side effects.

The total number of doses is equivalent to every child between these ages taking hyperactivity drugs more than four times a year.

As with other times this subject has been covered I’d point to the paper DrugScope have about the management of Ritalin for schools.

Filed under: medicines

Pupils took drug cocktail at school

The BBC have a story about pupils from Penzance:

Five pupils at a Cornish school needed hospital treatment after experimenting with a cocktail of medicines. The youngsters, from Mounts Bay School near Penzance, had taken the prescription tablets, mainly sleeping pills, into school with them on Wednesday. The Year Nine pupils had just completed a drug education course. [more]

Filed under: drug education, medicines

Talking the drugs away

The Times has a story about mental health problems amongst children and young people. They point out:

The typical British response has been to reach for the pill bottle. Over the past ten years the prescription of antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs to children has soared faster in the UK than anywhere in the world. More than 700,000 children in the UK are on medication for mental health problems. And eight out of ten GPs say that tight resources mean they are having to prescribe pills rather than offer an evidence-based talking treatment, according to a report, We Need To Talk, published last month by the Mental Health Foundation.

All of which, I think, makes the point that drug education must endeavour to address medicines as well as other drugs.

There were a number of other stories in the same vein:

Filed under: medicines

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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