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  • Misuse of ADHD Medication

    “Study Drugs” or a Red Flag? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects approximately 8% of college students in the United States. The most common medication for ADHD is a class of medicine called “stimulants” including: Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse, and Focalin. These types of medicines work well for students with ADHD, but misuse has become a health and safety concern among college students.

    Studies have shown up to 1 in 4 college students have misused stimulants during college.

    Students who misuse stimulants do so to help them study, to stay awake, or for recreational purposes: “getting high.” Most students get these medications from a friend who has a prescription. Many students without diagnosed ADHD use prescription stimulants as “study drugs” in attempt to improve academic performance. However, it has been shown that students who do not have ADHD and misuse these medications experience worsened mental performance. Another researcher found that stimulant misuse was associated with lower grade point averages.

    Those misusing stimulants were 2.9 times more likely to have a substance use disorder in one study.

    Instead of treating stimulant misuse as a “normal behavior,” we should view it as a red flag for other drug or alcohol use problems, academic difficulties, or need for evaluation for other psychiatric conditions (including ADHD).

    Your student’s most important influence is you! Families have a responsibility to know the facts about stimulant misuse, its negative health effects, and its legal ramifications.

    You have an opportunity to encourage healthy study habits and discourage risky practices with your student. It is important to remember that most students at UAB do not misuse prescription stimulant medication. This can be a powerful reminder for your student as they begin their university experience. UAB is here to help.

    UAB’s Student Health and Wellness Services can assist students who have psychiatric concerns (including ADHD), in addition to many other primary care and specialty care services such as drug and alcohol evaluations.

    Our initial assessment includes a psychiatric and substance use history. All students receiving stimulant medication for ADHD must sign a contract of agreement that they are expected to take the medicine as prescribed and not sell or give the medication to another person. They are not to use any other illegal substances while taking the medication and must return for scheduled follow-up visits.

  • 10 Signs Your Student is Struggling with Substance Use Disorder

    American culture is embedded with images that glorify college as a time and place to experiment. The truly dangerous part about this message is that an individual’s brains is not fully developed until around age 25, leaving them at a greater risk for developing a substance use disorder during those crucial years. Early intervention is vital and increases the chance of behavior changes and success.

    Here are some early warning signs to look out for:

    1. Failing Grades is usually the first big red flag! It is easy to brush off lower or failing grades as a transitional issue, but it can be one of the first signs that substance misuse is affecting your student’s priorities.
    2. Skipping Classes could be indicative of a shift in priorities, leading to lower or failing grades.
    3. Sleeping During the Day or any major shift in sleeping patterns. It is important to know your student’s personal health patterns and gauge any change in those patterns.
    4. Unexplained Financial Difficulty: Try to be aware of how your student is spending money. Continuous financial problems could indicate an issue.
    5. Sudden Mood Swings: Excessive alcohol use can lead to depression and anxiety and other drugs can also change a person’s behavior patterns.
    6. Questionable Hygiene & Appearance: Again, it is important to know your student’s typical habits when it comes to their personal health and gauge the changes in their appearance.
    7. Mixing Drugs and/or Alcohol: This includes over-the-counter medication!
    8. Family History Genetics and other biological factors increase a person’s risk of developing a substance use disorder by 60-70%.
    9. Lack of Motivation: Similar to changing priorities, substance misuse can lead a person to be less motivated in the activities that were once important to them.
    10. Inability to Make Contact: If you have been unable to contact your student and are concerned about their well-being, please take appropriate action by alerting authorities and the University.
  • I am worried about my student’s substance use. What do I do?

    1. As calmly and kindly as possible, express to your student what you have seen, heard, and experienced in their behavior that causes you to be concerned. Use “I statements” and avoid judgmental/subjective language (e.g. good vs. bad, “a lot” vs. “a little”) as much as possible.

      For example: “The last two times you came home to visit I noticed you were stumbling and slurring your words when you returned from seeing your friends. I care about you and your health and safety, and this makes me concerned about your drinking.”
    2. Offer to help them get professional help. The first step in helping someone in a situation of possible substance misuse (Alcohol is a ‘substance’ too!) is to get a professional assessment of the situation.
    3. Any UAB student may set up an appointment to assess their substance use with Student Counseling Services. They may also contact the Recovery Resource Center at (205) 458-3377 or walk-in/make an appointment for a substance use screening and assessment Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. The Recovery Resource Center is located in Cooper Green Hospital at 1515 6th Ave.South, just across the street from Hill Student Center. The Recovery Resource Center also offers support for families of those affected by substance use.
    4. Have your student complete a free, confidential, anonymous online self-assessment (see link below), print it and bring it with them to the appointment at Counseling Services. Taking this assessment may also help them to see for themselves how risky their behavior has become.

      Alcohol eCheckUp

      Marijuana eCheckUp

    Remember! Always remind your student that you care about them and will not judge them. Be sure to take care of yourself too! Click here for resources.

  • The UAB Continuum of Care for Substance Use Disorders

    UAB is proud to offer a full continuum of care for people struggling with substance use disorder. Anyone in or seeking recovery or assistance can find the appropriate level of care at one of our many on-campus resources.

    Crc Membership

    We offer:

    Social Support

    Fun Sober Events

    Recovery Support Meetings

    Connection to Campus Supports



    A Dedicated Safe Space on Campus

    Ongoing Recovery Education


    UAB Wellness Promotion
    • Alcohol & Other Drug Education and Prevention
    • Interpersonal Violence Education & Prevention
    • Peer Education
    SHWC/LRC 390
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    UAB Student Counseling Services
    SHWC/LRC 3rd Floor

    UAB Student Outreach
    Treatment UAB Addiction Recovery Program
    • Short-term Detox Services
    • Intensive Outpatient Program
    • Support Groups

    UAB Addiction Recovery Program
    1110 12th St. South
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Substance-Free Activities

    UAB offers a variety of programming on campus that encourages low-risk behaviors and substance-free living. We encourage you and your student to check out all of UAB’s events on our social media pages and platforms such as Engage.

    Some examples of events to get excited about include:

    National Recovery Month
    National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week
    Silent Disco
    Rock out the Red Zone
    Stress Less Week
    Drug & Alcohol Facts Week
    Lecture Series
    MLK Day of Service
    4th of July Shindig
    University Recreation
    Blazer Pulse