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Teenagers who take ADHD Meds have a Higher Risk of being Bullied, Study says

Update Date: Nov 21, 2015 10:28 AM EST
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Teenagers who take medications for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were more likely to be bullied when compared to teens who did not have to take these drugs, a new study reported.

"I think it's fair to say that bullying is a potential risk that's associated with stimulant treatment for ADHD," said study order Quyen Epstein-Ngo, a research assistant professor at the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Women and Gender. "We're not quite sure exactly what's going on there. They may be putting themselves in riskier situations where they're more likely to be victimized."

In the study, the researchers conducted a survey on almost 5,000 kids in middle and high school for more than four years. They kids were asked about bullying as well as ADHD medications, including Ritalin and Adderall.

The team found that kids who took ADHD drugs were two times more likely to be bullied than kids who were not on these medications. In the ADHD group, 20 percent reported that other kids had asked them to sell or share their medications. Half of the kids from this group admitted to selling/sharing their ADHD drugs.

Kids who shared their drugs, whether it was selling or trading, were 4.5 times more likely to be bullied when compared to kids without the disorder. They were five times more likely to be bullied than children with ADHD who did not have a recent prescription.

The researchers noted that since the accounts of bullying were all self-reported, the findings could have been skewed. They added that they did not find a cause and effect relationship and did not conclude that medications lead to bullying. The researchers did stress the importance of addressing bullying in kids, especially in kids with some kind of disorder.

"Close parent-prescriber collaboration is needed to ensure effective medical treatment for ADHD without greater risk for victimization and treatment failure," the researchers wrote.

The study was published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

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