Building Trust with Your Teen with ADHD Takes Knowledge, Patience and Structure
This post is sponsored by Adlon Therapeutics L.P., a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma L.P. Personal opinions expressed within this post are my own.
Being a parent of a child with ADHD changes the lens of how you look at child-rearing and the responsibilities that go along with shaping an independent and responsible young adult.
Development of attentional functions (skills needed to process day-to-day life demands such as emotional regulation and decision-making skills) are often delayed or develop slowly in children with ADHD compared to those without ADHD. It can feel like a burdensome job for the parent with no end in sight.
I used to say that my child with ADHD would do everything once. The learning curve for her was an experience. Good and bad. She was the first to jump in and try something out. She did not have a lot of cognitive stops in place and I was often her backstop. She was and still is impulsive. This placed a lot of stress on me as a parent navigating a teenager who wanted to be independent.
I tried to stay ahead of her journey to independence. I researched the strengths and weaknesses associated with having ADHD and considered her potential outcomes.
I joined as many ADHD support groups and associations that I could find at that time. In fact, I even became a specialist through my quest for knowledge, all to be prepared for what she “might” do. On a side note, I discovered meditation during this time, which was a savior for me to sustain mental toughness during the rough times.
By the time my daughter was 16, she wanted me to hand over the keys to her car, stop volunteering at her schooling events and let her be in control of her medication. Giving up the volunteering at the school events meant I had to give up my insight window into her teenage shenanigans. You can learn a lot about your teen’s decision-making skills by attending these events. Losing the ability to monitor her periodically reckless behavior was the most challenging part of giving her the independence she craved. I increased my meditation times from 5 to 10 minutes a day to deal with my anxiety around wanting to trust her to handle the temptations and dangers she would inevitably face. One of my favorite mantras was, “This too shall pass”. I used that a lot during those teen years.
Teenagers with ADHD are 36% more likely to get into a car accident than newly licensed drivers without ADHD, and in a study of all college students (both those with and without ADHD) almost 16% admitted to misusing prescription stimulants as study drugs.,Misusing prescription drugs is when a medication is not used the way it is intended by the prescribing doctor.  This includes not just overusing but also sharing it. Read more about one student’s story here when he shared his medication with a fellow student.
If you are worried about your teen misusing their ADHD medication, here are some things to look out for:
Being more alert and hyperactive
Acting withdrawn or hostile
Being frequently tired or depressed
Trouble sleeping, agitation, anxiety and paranoia
Saying they need higher doses than prescribed & running out of pills
Excessive mood swings
Knowledge is powerful. Here are a few tips:
Ask for your doctor’s opinion. Many doctors these days have a portal where you can ask questions directly to them.
Know how the medication should be followed: read the prescription Medication Guide carefully
Knowing what to expect with medication can help you monitor the effects and better communicate with your doctor.
NEVER allow using prescription medication other than your own (even a family member)
It sets the stage that it might be OK to share it with others.
Discuss the consequences of prescription stimulant medication misuse with your teen and reiterate that the medication is prescribed for them only.
Set rules & establish contracts
Sometimes, all it takes is setting up some ground rules and consequences for breaking them so they understand the importance of using their prescription stimulant medication correctly.
Keep their prescription medications safe
Help them to get away from temptations, keep track and lock up their prescription medications in a safe place, like a locked cabinet or box. This is also to make sure that they are not selling their medications to other people.
Leaving unused and expired prescription medications should be avoided. You may consult with doctors for the proper way of disposing of unused medications.
Through my deep breathing and in-depth research, I formalized my plan to allow for my daughter’s independence.
I gave her a longer leash but stayed close so that I could help her out when she needed it. We created a contract that entailed what she wanted while sticking to my boundaries. We agreed on what consequences would be invoked if I became aware of any violations.
We signed it together and each kept a copy. I meditated more and then let go of my fears…sort of.
The outcome was good overall. We did have to enact the consequences a few times…ok…quite a few times over the next 4 years.
Notice that I said 4 years. We maintained this contract until she was 20.
Since she lagged a few years in maturity, it took that long until she was truly independent. The point here is that it worked. I survived it.
So, what can you do to navigate building trust with a young adult with ADHD? Knowledge is the key to success. With the knowledge, I was able to stay a step ahead, notice signs of trouble and intervene quickly. I found resources for attentional issues while driving and risks of prescription medication misuse.
With my newly gained knowledge, I was eager to share it with her. The next challenge was getting her to listen to me. I mean, really listen to me. I knew she needed it broken into chunks of information with minimal distractions. I chose times that were strategic, like taking her to get pedicures where she was my captive audience for a solid hour. We can now look back at those times and joke about our conversations and how she knew that this would be a dual event when I booked the appointments. She got her nails done at the expense of having to discuss topics important to me. It was a good trade in her teen mindset!
During this uninterrupted mother and daughter time, we accomplished the groundwork. We worked through my concerns of newly found statistical information around ADHD. I would ask her questions to test her knowledge and thoughts around the issues. It proved to be very helpful to bring attention to it and talk through scenarios of what-ifs.
What if she was asked to share her prescription medications?
What would she do if she was driving to volleyball practice late knowing the coach would be upset at her?
How would she handle these and other types of situations?
My goal was to get her in the mindset, so that WHEN it did happen to her, she would have a plan of action.
Was my method perfect?
Was it a good one? I would say yes. By preparing myself with information I was able to address the biggest concerns I had at the time: safe driving and not misusing her prescription medications. I had the knowledgebase to start these conversations with my daughter. My goal was to get her thinking about these situations and how she would handle them independently. It helped me let go of some of the control I felt as she gained independence.
Over time, the contracts became less of a parental threat and more of an agreement that we both could refer to when needed. It was the beginning of helping my daughter gain independence with tools to help make decisions that had some thought.
So, dig in and find out as much as you can about the risks associated with ADHD and stay a step ahead of your teen.
In this episode Academic Coach Michelle Raz shares a story of an ADHD student who came close to failing out of college, Through grit and hard work, she managed to pull it together and pass her classes. It is a true story of how one student was on the verge of shutting down, but through coaching and self-determination, she pushed through.
Do you ever feel like you need to survive every day? Do you sometimes think of just getting through a day?
If you have ADHD, it can be easy to feel this way daily. Putting too much pressure on yourself can cause trouble to organize things, create mistakes, lack focus, unfinished tasks, and emotional turmoil. So instead of getting yourself into survival mode, try thriving.
Thriving and surviving are often being mistaken as the same words. These two words are the total opposite of each other. Surviving is stressing yourself out on how to get through the day. Thriving is doing things according to plan, with the flow, and with a positive outlook. Be the person you want to be without pressuring yourself, allow yourself to grow and make progress, and the most important thing is to always don a happy heart. Thriving is a process of planning for the future, being the best version of yourself, creating experiences, and doing the most significant work that you should do.
Having ADHD can sometimes keep you away from the will to live life fully, but you can always make a change. You just have to start.
Bulletproof Your “No” to the Pressure of Sharing ADHD Medication This post was developed in collaboration with Adlon Therapeutics L.P, a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma L.P. Personal opinions expressed within this post are my own.
As a continuation of my mini-series on sharing prescription medication, I will give you some tips on how to say NO to the pressure of saying YES.
Have you ever felt tempted to share your prescription ADHD medication with others? An option that you almost gave into? The whisper and teases of your friends urging you to do an unwise thing just once AND you seriously contemplate it. You might feel torn and conflicted to be chill and just go along with it but feel scared of the consequences. Can you relate to these feelings?
For a thoughtful answer to these questions, we should first consider why people would do it in the first place. Turning someone down by saying no may feel unnatural, like you’re rejecting that person as a friend.
Saying yes is easy. It can make a person happy, which can trigger feel-good brain chemicals called dopamine. It is in our human nature to want to help others and make them feel good too. Take for instance, the feeling of giving someone a gift. Have you ever given a gift or done something for someone else without getting something in return and felt more satisfaction than when you have done something with getting something in return? This is that release of “happiness brain chemicals.” When you act in a way to help others, it makes you feel good.
It is in our nature to want to go along with things that make us feel happy. Think how fun it is to be in a group situation where everyone wants to do the same thing. The expectation is to go along with whatever the group wants to do. Many find themselves saying yes to things that are out of their element. This is often referred to as peer pressure. It can be a powerful dynamic for the good…or bad.
Let’s face it, “No” stings and hurts. Think back to a time in your childhood when you wanted something, and you got the big “N-O” word. If you are like me, the words N-O echoed in your eyes and vibrated down to your sinking heart with a slight tinge of pain in your stomach. You may have felt devious enough if the something you wanted was big enough or had substantial pull for friend power, prestige or coolness factor that you planned a way to get it without them knowing. The N-O means NO word has a lasting effect that many do not want to project onto other people. We prefer to avoid these feelings for ourselves and others. So, a yes mentality prevails for most people as we could have developed an oversensitivity to what an N-O NO stance/mentality means to us socially. The person may compromise values and healthy boundaries. Going along with a yes mentality can harm your mental well-being, leaving you conflicted with your values and even in danger of getting you in legal trouble when it comes to sharing prescription medications.
But…. Saying No Has Its Perks
Establishes Your Inner Value Compass
When you have strong values, it can feed into your identity and leave you in charge of your life outcome. It will command a level of respect from people if you set clear values with boundaries around them. The key here is to know your boundaries and be consistently firm with them.
Establish your own art of conveying those boundaries with a style that gets the point across. If someone asks you to cross that boundary, they know what the answer will always be… NO!
For example, you can be direct and courteous with a request to share your prescription medication when someone asks you.
You can say, “I am not allowed to share my medication, but I can help you get in touch with my physician if you are struggling.” A referral does not guarantee that someone will be diagnosed with ADHD or prescribed a stimulant medication, but it can steer the conversation in a better direction. Ultimately, only a doctor can make those determinations.
Another option is
“I hope this doesn’t offend you, but as a rule, I do not share my medications.”
Both of the statements are examples of how you can acknowledge their situation while establishing a boundary to protect your values. Establishing a clear value message with the person asking you to do something illegal will curtail any chance of them coming back to you in the future. In my article, Selling or Sharing Your ADHD Meds https://www.razcoaching.com/selling-or-sharing-your-adhd-meds/ I share a story of how a student shared prescription medication to help a friend study for an exam that mushroomed into a drug raid in his college dorm.
It is not easy to be a NO person…. But the benefits of defining your boundaries and values are worth it!
Look at the true cost of saying yes to giving or selling your prescription medication. The potential cost is not worth it. Give yourself the motivation to set ways to say NO to your friends who want your prescription medications. So, here are a few more tips.
A friend may say, “C’mon man, IT IS ONLY 1 pill.” You know the true cost of that pill can get you into a whole lot of legal trouble.
Find your voice by saying,
“Let Me Hook You Up……”
Your reply should include a strong stance that means No. Say, “I don’t share my medications.” You can then follow up with an alternative for the person. “But, let me hook you up with my awesome psychiatrist if you are struggling.”
“My psychologist is a great resource, if you are struggling, though; I will hook you up and text them to you.”
It is important not to apologize about your stance. Just simply state it and the more you practice saying it, the less emotion you will have in your voice. Remember that your self-worth does not hinge on being a yes person, in fact, quite the opposite. Knowing your values and establishing your boundaries will promote your self-worth and show personal responsibility and maturity.
Here is another resource for developing powerful ways to help you, say NO. Pick a few that work for you and practice them, so you own it and feel confident to say them when asked.
“You are putting me in a really awkward situation. I don’t appreciate that.”
“Wow. I’m surprised you would ask to use one of my pills.”
“If I give you one of mine I will run out before I go to the doctor again.”
“My parents count my pills. They will know if I’m missing one.”
“I’m only given a few at a time by my doctor. She will know if any are missing.”
Or, you can simply be straightforward in saying no.
“Let me think about that for a minute…no.”
“Not a chance.”
“I’m not going to do something that is a federal crime.” 1
Think of your own greater good when confronted with the request to share your prescription medication. It will send a message that you know who you are, what you value and what boundaries you have set to live your life by. In the end, you will be gaining the respect of your friends and demonstrating that you are a leader and not just a yes person.
Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed., is a professional executive function coach and educational consultant. She specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD be the best version of themselves in their academic and career journeys.
Consequence of Selling or Sharing Your ADHD Meds This is a good time to Get Smart!
This post was developed in collaboration with Adlon Therapeutics L.P, a subsidiary of Purdue Pharma L.P. Personal opinions expressed within this post are my own.
“Can you hook me up? I have an exam.”
College students sometimes refer to stimulants misused and abused casually, as if it were completely normal. There has been a level of acceptance that sharing this type of drug to improve academic success is “Ok.” In this article, you will hear the high risks at stake – including why misuse is never OK and how it can negatively affect academic, career and life success. A personal story from a college student who would like to warn people of the grave consequences and just how serious it can get is worth reading and sharing.
The pressure is on to do well in school for many students and some are willing to cross the line and look for a little help from friends to get “study drugs.” A scenario might go like this: Sarah and Joe, two friends, are studying for a massive exam coming up and one of them happens to have ADHD and a prescription for a stimulant that helps them focus. It can be an innocent sharing of information at first. “I forgot to take my meds today and I cannot focus on anything!” The other student starts to ask questions about how medication helps them and, the next thing you know, he/she asks to try the medication to see if it will help them too. Though sharing prescription medication may seem like a simple act, it is considered a federal crime. Stimulant medication used to treat ADHD are classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Schedule II controlled substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act. (21 U.S.C. § 812.). Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.,,
Under the Controlled Substances Act, a person convicted of selling or attempting to sell Schedule II controlled substances near a school, including a college, or other areas where young people may be present faces twice the maximum prison sentence, twice the maximum fine, and twice the term of supervised release. (21 U.S.C. 860.).
Drug trafficking laws often impose mandatory minimum sentences. This means that a person convicted must serve a specified amount of time and cannot be released on parole until that time has passed. If, for example, you are sentenced to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking and your state has a three-year mandatory minimum, you cannot be paroled before you finish serving at least three years in prison. If this does not convince you that prescription ADHD medication is something you should keep locked up and not share with anyone, perhaps the following true story will be an eye-opener.
A study published by the Journal of Psychiatry in 2010 found of students prescribed a medication, 35.8% diverted (gave away, sold or traded) a medication at least once in their lifetime. The most commonly diverted medication classes were prescription ADHD stimulants, with a 61.7% diversion rate.
In 2018 Attention Talk Radio Host, Jeff Copper, interviewed a college student who shared his story of sharing and selling his ADHD medications. As a consequence, he spent years tangled up in the legal system.
It all started when a girl asked him to share his prescription stimulant medication to help her study for an exam. From that moment on, the girl came back for more and more. It eventually spiraled out of control and news of his willingness to sell his prescription medication spread to another student who was dealing, on a larger scale, a variety of drugs.
When it comes to illegal endeavors, many seemingly “good things” come to a not-so-good ending. This student’s story was no different. The guy he was selling and trading his entire prescription to became a federal suspect target who got busted on multiple charges of drug trafficking. He struck a deal to lighten his own legal entanglement by becoming an informant. He was being charged for dealing felony class drugs and agreed to wire and tape himself buying drugs from the college student as part of a plea bargain. The unsuspecting college student woke up one morning to a life-changing raid happening in his dorm room. His dorm and life were turned completely upside down as the feds seized everything he owned. The impact and reality of what he had been doing came to full light with shame, guilt and humongous regret. The fast money was as over as he explained in detail what happened during the raid:
“They put me in handcuffs, then half of the officers went up to my dorm room and tore it apart – pulled everything out of the cabinets, flipped the bed, and tore a stuffed animal I had to shreds. When the search was finished, they took me to the local station, took my prints, mug shots, and put me in a holding cell. At that point, I realized this was really real. I’m in big trouble, the likes of which I had never seen in my life.”
In the end, he navigated through the strain it put on his self-esteem, family relationships, education and financial pocketbook with a good lawyer and a lot of personal growth. It took years to recover from the legal entanglement. During that time, through many hours of self-reflection with counselors and outdoor wilderness therapists’ guidance, he got in touch with how he wanted to live his life in the future. Luckily for him, he has been able to do it without serving jail time. He came forward to share his story so others may learn from his experience. Giving away that first pill as a study drug – which he viewed as a seemingly harmless action – led to life-changing events that he could have never imagined. He was looking at two felony counts of trafficking a controlled substance, which carried mandatory minimums of 1 to 7 years in prison each. This meant, if he was convicted of both sentences, he would have been serving a minimum mandatory of 2 to 14 years in prison.
Here is what his takeaway was:
“The biggest lesson I learned right away was just how wrong that lackadaisical attitude toward ADHD medication is – in high school, at college, or at work.”
Unfortunately, this student’s story is not unique. Even when used as prescribed by properly diagnosed patients, prescription stimulants carry risks that must be considered, such as misuse, abuse, and diversion. These risks are a big reason why clinicians are asked to closely monitor their patients. This includes accurate diagnosing, observing for the potential misuse of prescribed stimulants, educating patients about the risks of misuse and diversion, and limiting prescriptions to a 30-day supply.,
Currently, strategies and tools for physicians are being developed, aiming to engage patients in the responsible use of their prescribed stimulant medications. Here is a great educational video that shows the potential risk of sharing medication and how it can be avoided with thoughtful choices by Ben, a college student.
Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed., is a professional executive function coach and educational consultant. She specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD be the best version of themselves in their academic and career journeys.
 U.S. Food & Drug Administration. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=1308  Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Scheduling. https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling  Drug Enforcement Administration. Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act. Part B — Authority to Control; Standards and Schedules. §812. Schedules of controlled substance. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/21cfr/21usc/812.htm  Drug Enforcement Administration. Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act. Part D — Offenses And Penalties. §860. Distribution or manufacturing in or near schools and colleges. https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/21cfr/21usc/860.htm  J Clin Psychiatry (2010) Sharing and selling of prescription medications in a college student sample. NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2845992/  NIDA. 2018, June 6. Prescription Stimulants DrugFacts. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants on 2020, November 6  Bukstein O. (2008). Substance abuse in patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Medscape journal of medicine, 10(1), 24.  Kolar, D., Keller, A., Golfinopoulos, M., Cumyn, L., Syer, C., & Hechtman, L. (2008). Treatment of adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 4(2), 389–403. https://doi.org/10.2147/ndt.s6985
3 Get Focused Advice for the ADHD Remote Learning Student
Learning at home is full of distractions; there is your sister watching the television, your brother playing his online games, and the noise coming from the outside. While focus is an essential factor in remote learning, students with ADHD struggle and find it hard to focus on their schoolwork.
With all the distractions and challenges that you may encounter as a student with ADHD, what do you think are the things that will help keep you in focus while learning?
This blog will give you three focused Tips for the ADHD Remote Learning Student.
Stick to your medication routine
Staying healthy is what matters most because your behavior starts with yourself. If you feel good about yourself, that’s step one to feel good about your day too and if that happens, you will be inspired on whatever it is you’re doing, well in this case in your schoolwork.
If you have ADHD medication, take it regularly or as prescribed. It helps reduce the tendency to have an overactive and thinking brain, inattentiveness and impulsivity. However, not everyone is too keen on medication. If this is you, I encourage you to look into alternative ways to help your cognitive skills. You can read more tips on this on my Instagram page. There is a lot of advice for whether you are taking medications or not to improve your lifestyle through a good self-care routine.
Just a reminder, be responsible with your medication. If you want to know more about what I mean on this topic go here.
Set a goal
It’s Monday, the weekend felt so short and you feel lazy. What do you usually do to start your day?
Make a goal for today or for the week. Starting your day with a goal in mind will help you keep your focus. You can start with one goal a day and set the alarm on your phone daily to remind you of what you need to do. Once your alarm rings, never ever snooze it, make it a habit to really begin “doing” and start the day with a no procrastinating mode of operation. Eventually, when you’ve already got the hang of doing your tasks on a daily basis, you will be set on your routine.
To be able to do that, first, you have to know what you have to achieve and commit to it. Use your planner. I have a great and easy one I use with clients and share it in a previous video. You have to create a plan, a step by step process on what needs to be done. That plan of small activities will help keep you on track and focused.
Create the mood
One’s environment affects their behavior significantly. For your online class, create a regular study space for yourself and keep it organized. Setting up a dedicated learning environment will help create a positive mood for you and it will help you focus on achieving or finishing your task.
Having your work done in one place repeatedly allows you to be familiar and establish your daily routine. Your space can be anywhere around the house, wherever works best for you and wherever you feel most comfortable. Having a designated place for your daily class will help you stay organized. Keeping your important files in one place will make it easier for you to access everything.
Staying at home is a global effort to stay safe and healthy amid the pandemic. In our current situation, online classes are the best option for students to keep going and still be on track on their academic journey. It can be challenging at first because online classes have its fair share of challenges in reality. These Tips for the ADHD Remote Learning Student tips will help navigate ADHD and the stressors.
Michelle R. Raz, M.A. Ed., is a professional executive function coach and educational consultant. She specializes in helping people with executive function challenges associated with ADHD be the best version of themselves in their academic and career journeys. You can follow her for fun and motivational ADHD facts and free advice on Instagram or Facebook.