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.
For more information on sharing ADHD medications, read my previous blog entitled Sharing ADHD Medication: Should you, or Shouldn’t You? go to: https://www.razcoaching.com/sharing-adhd-medications/
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