Can you Lend me Some of your ADHD Medication?

Can we talk about substance abuse?

Specifically abusing ADHD medication.

I’ve never actually had anyone ask me to lend them some of my medication.  (How do you lend someone medication?  Don’t you mean give?  Cause I can’t see a pill being a ‘loaner’ that I’d want back afterwards.)  But when my son was at university, taking an incredibly challenging course called Physics-Engineering, fellow students, non-ADHD students, approached him about getting a leg up with one of his magic pills.

My son is a clever lad.  He never refused point blank.  He never showed any resentment at being approached to do something wrong.

Instead, he would shrug and explain to the drug-seeking friend that, “Oh, because you don’t have ADHD, it won’t help.  The kind I take doesn’t work for most people.  And they take months to kick in.”

It was a lie.  But better a little white lie than doing something criminal.

And it worked.  They always believed him and never asked again.

MAGIC PILLS TO MAKE YOUR SMARTER

Of course, I’m sure plenty of kids and adults do sell their medication.  Sometimes, I’m told, at an incredible premium.

Why?  Perhaps to help pay for their education, I don’t know.  Maybe they are genuinely hoping to help their friends or maybe they are succumbing to peer pressure.  Maybe it makes them feel better to have someone ‘normal’ taking ADHD medication as well.

Whatever.

More troubling to me are students who pretend to have ADHD so they can get a prescription for medication.  They’re faking the diagnosis.

Oh, the irony!  So many parents and kids are afraid to find out if they have ADHD; meanwhile thousands of others try to fool doctors and school administrators into believing they do have it!

Whether or not these fakers do see a benefit, I don’t know.  Probably.  After all, most people focus better after inhaling nicotine or drinking caffeine.  I do know that it negatively impacts those of us who do benefit from the proper dose of the right medication.

What kind of impacts?

Well, to start, because of rampant ‘faking’, a college student who actually does have ADHD must now present overwhelming evidence that they in fact have this disorder.  Which can mean thousands of dollars worth of tests to prove what they already know.  Meaning doctors who are already overbooked are having to do even more assessments.

BUT WHO IS THE REAL VICTIM? ME!

There are many other impacts, but here is a simple one.  (And what makes it especially tragic to me is that it impacts ME! And that, in my mind, is a tragedy of untold magnitude.)

You see, up until a few years ago my doctor could prescribe 6 months worth of medication.  That’s a lot of pills.  And selling them could make someone a lot of money.

And apparently lots of people did.

So the rules were tightened up to prevent this.

Now, I can only get a prescription for 3 months worth of pills at a time.

After three months I have to go see my doctor again.  Which is 2 hours out of my day, because she’s a long drive and she’s always behind because she sees so many patients.  And I’m adding to her caseload with my two extra visits a year.

That’s not all.

To prevent abuse the Pharmacy can only give one month’s worth of pills at a time.  Despite my 3 month prescription.

Apparently I’m not to be trusted with more.

So instead of 2 pharmacy visits a year to get six months worth of medication, I have to make 12 trips.

There’s more.  (Are you wailing and lamenting for me yet?  I hope so.)

A few minutes ago when I called to have the prescription renewed and ready to pick up, I was told I can only renew it when I’m almost completely out.  I still have 6 days left.

They dare not trust me with 30 more capsules of ‘concentrated concentration’ until I have 5 days worth left.  I was going to be out and about today running errands, so grabbing my prescription was a minor inconvenience.  But the pharmacist tells me I can’t pick them up till after midnight tonight.  When it’s officially tomorrow.  Apparently I’m one day early.  One day too soon.

So now I’ll have to make a special trip.  Costing more time, more mental energy, more gasoline… You get the idea. (I’ll pause here to let you finish your wailing and weeping for me.)

WHAT’S THE ANSWER? UMM….

Okay, I know, it’s not the end of the world.  It’s a ‘First World Problem’.  But it just feels unnecessary.

What’s the answer?  I don’t know.  But I’m open to suggestions.

I understand that there are people abusing ADHD medications.

There are people abusing every kind of medication.

Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are Preparation H Addicts.  And they ‘share tubes’ in illegal ‘roid houses’.

What is the price of Hemorrhoid medication on the street?

“Today, agents of the DEA seized over three million dollars worth of illegal suppositories…”

There must be a way to save me, and the pharmacist, the need for 12 trips a year

Perhaps there could be a special category of people who are trusted.  Like my daughter, who, as a flight attendant, gets to go through a faster security lane.

A doctor could certify a patient they’ve known for a long time as being ‘trustworthy’.

But then, come to think of it, there are doctors who are not trustworthy, and who will certify distant relatives so they abuse this system too…

I don’t have the answer.  Does anyone else?  What do you think?

Is there anything to be done?

Not only about this issue, but what about the issue of and using and abusing ADHD medication?

Has anyone ever asked you or one of your kids to ‘lend’ them some pills?

And if so, what happened?  Because I really know that peer pressure can be huge, and we can be impulsive.

Best,

Rick Green

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15 Replies to “Can you Lend me Some of your ADHD Medication?”

  1. This is a pretty big can of worms you’ve opened here, Rick. To begin, yes, I have “loaned” a friend one of my Concerta pills (tablet? capsule? missle?). This friend also has a diagnosis of ADHD. Some years ago, she asked me directly one day, “Have you ever been formally diagnosed with ADHD?” She and I often compare notes on our experienced with ADHD and raising daughters with the same condition. As such, when she explained she’d not had a chance to fill her prescription (I’m sure you can sympathize with teh logicistic contortions often required to do so) and wondered if she could “borrow” one of my pills (which was the same dose) with the assurance that she’d “pay me back” the following day when she had her own refill, I agreed.

    That was an easy situation for me. We knew each other; we each knew the other’s diagnosis and we took the same medication at the same dose.

    I presume you’re asking the more tricky questions. And I’m hard-pressed to find a good answer (although I’m going to remember the response your son used!). When my kids get a bit older I’ll explain to them about how some kids may see simulant medications; how they should NEVER share it with anybody and that they should be aware that if kids know our home includes residents who take stimulant medications that some kids might even try to be guests in our home to gain access to our medications.

    But what about those of us–adults–who “borrow” our kids medication? I’ve read from many, e.g., Dr. Ned Hallowell, who asks adult patients whose kids are prescribed medications if they’ve tried their kids medicaitions by asking, “So how did you feel when you tried your kids’ meds?” What about this? (Talk about stealing from a baby!)

    Furthermore, I can tell you it can get more complicate (at least in the US). I’ve had situations in which I reside in one state; my doctor’s in another state; my health insurance is based in yet another state and there’s a mailorder pharmacy with dispensaries in 3 different (separate states). Each state has it’s own laws about “controlled substances”. For a while–with the same prescribing physician and other variables held consistant–I was or was not able to get a 3 mo. supply based on whichever pharmacy location was dispensing the medication. Sometimes I’d get 3 mos. other times only 1 mo. Huh?!

    I don’t think I’ve really answered your question–but thanks for letting me add to your diatribe.

  2. We have to see our psychiatrist every other month for med checks, then he gives us 2 scripts, one for right away, the other for the next month. (And 12 trips to the pharmacy.) My phone died and I missed my last appt. Then the doc went on vacation. Finally got an appt. for this Thursday. Will have to “borrow” a few Adderall from my granddaughter who doesn’t take hers during school vacations, Rick, I know overprescribing, abuse and a “shortage” have led my insurance company to go from $6/month script to $45/month. Tough for a person on disability due to ADD! I don’t see any answer to the problem. Looking forward to tonight’s Webinar.

  3. I share your frustration at how difficult it is to renew a prescription. Having to see my psychiatrist, and have her call it in, and take paper documentation to the pharmacy window, etc. I hate being treated like a potential criminal, like someone not to be trusted, the way they dole out the pills. I can only get 90 days’ worth at one time, but it’s better than having to go every month. This creates a hardship because it’s tough enough to remember how much I have on hand, and muster the energy and wherewithal to get the refill. The negative energy and suspicion alone is enough to make me want to quit taking medication. I don’t like being policed for something I need.

    Never offered, never thought of offering, never gave pills to anyone. It’s potentially dangerous. Not a good idea. I don’t need that kind of responsibility.

    I did hear about a middle school student who was selling his ADHD meds to other kids. I understand they have street value, but to me that’s weird, because when I take stimulants I become more functional, able to relax, come out of the mental fog and think. It’s no joy ride. I don’t get high from it, it just makes life tolerable.

    I never wanted ADHD. And can’t really imagine lying about it, or any other condition, to get pills. What for? I don’t even like being on the stuff – I worry about the long-term health impacts and dependency – but when I don’t take it, life becomes unmanageable. Plus, it’s expensive. I don’t like the idea of being on medication forever.

    Are people really faking ADHD to get these pills? Really? Not cool.

  4. Yeah, this makes me mad too. I’m afraid that the abuse is from the Doctors too. My friend went to his doctor and answered a few questions and POOF, he was diagnosed with ADHD which to me didn’t seam like the right diagnoses. As for me, my Doctor sent me to a psychologist to get diagnosed which took two weeks to be reviewed and all that is despite me being diagnosed in middle school. which my parents didn’t like the idea of a kid taking medication.(Which led to me passing each class by the teachers grace knowing I was smarter then what test had shown and a half year longer of High School to make up some credits I needed.) Now when you have Doctors prescribing the medication just by filling out ten questions on a piece of paper that everyone knows the answers to, you get people abusing and selling medication that some people need to function in society. There are so many people prescribed to these meds that there are “SHORTAGES” which makes it so I have to wait two weeks to a month after when they are supposed to be renewed. I think a good way to lead to a better feature is to have doctors not have the ability to diagnose patience with ADHD and have to send them to someone who specializes with ADHD, not to say they can’t prescribe the medication once diagnosed and recommended by the specialist (psychologist or ADHD testing facility). Shoot I say fix it rite now and retest everyone or at least those diagnosed by a family Doctor. As for someone asking me for some of my meds I just tell them honestly that I need them and only have enough until my next prescription. Also tell them that the effects it has on me differ from them who do not have ADHD. How ever I have also loaned a close friend some pills which is they same mg and brand, until they refill due to “shortages”. Darn you shortages!!

  5. @Rick. Can your doctor just mail the prescription to you? That’s what my doctor started doing after a while. Also, since I don’t have insurance I get mine through the AARP drug discount mail-in program. I get the discount and because I use the mail-in, I get three months for the price of two. I save a trip to the doctor’s office and to the pharmacy. Maybe things are different in Canada but they fill the whole 90 days worth here.

    And I absolutely feel your frustration about abusers make things harder for us. We don’t need any extra stumbling blocks as we try to get through life.

  6. I completely agree about the inconvenience about having to get a prescription every month and having to wait until the end of the month before refilling the prescription. I relate to all of posts in one way or another.

    Once or twice a year, it seems that there is a shortage of Ritilan and I have to go to several pharmacies within a 25 mile radius to see if they have it in stock and to get my prescription filled. I am treated like a criminal, a drug addict with a forged prescription by the pharmacist asking my why am I having it filled in another county…. seriously, I am not making it up. I do not have insurance therefore I am a cash customer and I have also found a HUGE discrepancy in pricing from $18 to $120 for the same generic in the same week. Yes this is one more burden for people with ADHD … oh yea I’m left handed too! 😀

  7. It’s a hassle that I can only get a month’s worth of meds at a time, and that I can’t renew them over the phone. But, all things considered, it’s a very minor hassle.

    My doctor’s office is a 10-minute walk, and my pharmacy is a 3-minute walk, from my home.

    The ADHD clinic is a little further: about 2.5 miles. I usually take the subway there (about 20 minutes), and walk home. That way, I save the cost of a token, have fun looking at the interesting store windows along the way, and get in some exercise.

    And I am VERY aware of just how lucky I am, that everything is so close by!

  8. Even though I have to go for a 3 month checkup, I can still only get one prescription at a time. It’s $10 to have scripts written outside of an appointment, so add that onto the tab.

    I’ve never been asked for one of my pills, but I have had them stolen by a friend that was cleaning our house. She stole some sentimental things and jewelry too. I took her to court, but they didn’t tack on the drug charges, just the jewelry.

    It makes me really angry to read or hear where others are selling their drugs to non-ADHD people, people faking ADHD to get stimulants, or a mother that “borrows” their child’s ADHD drugs to lose weight.

  9. This happened to me the other day! MY wife and I were going out of town to a “remote” place and I was nearing the end of my 1 month allotment. I am sure there might have been a pharmacy within range but as I was already having trouble(and judgement) finding a pharmacy near my home I decided to get my second month supply on the day that was listed on my prescription document by my doctor. And I say document because it literally is a piece of paper that has 5 or 6 security measures to make sure it is not faked! anyhow, they denied me! told me that EVEN though my doctor said refill on this date, the pharmacist said no! She told me that because I had not waited the 30 days from my last bottle she could not fill it. Did I mention that IT WAS WRITTEN TO BE FILLED ON THE DAY I WENT!!!!

    So I had to have them call my doctor(who duh!!! has a receptionist) and ask him if it was ok to fill on the day he already, specifically said was ok! Meanwhile, my wife who was patiently waiting for me to come home so we could go on vacation fielded a call from me ranting about what was going on. She too was bewildered about the situation and began to rant herself. I then forgot what she was so pissed about and and decided to call my doctor myself. Of course I got his receptionist who told me they would have to ask him and call me back. REALLY, he is in the next room! Just ask him!

    SO I decided to go to the thrift store across the street, bought a few impulse items(that my wife actually really liked) so behavior reinforced!! I wasted about 30 more minutes in the brick-a-brack section and finally drove home. Walked inside, sat down, stood up, sat down, paced, sat down again. Discovered I forgot to charge my cell phone so I went to the computer room and plugged it in. Once I finally climbed the stairs back to the living room my phone rang. Sprinting back downstairs to grab the call I did not recognize the number…great!! I did answer it and it was a recording saying my prescription was ready to pickup and then thanked me for being a criminal, I mean customer!

  10. I live in Israel and where I’m coming from the phenomenon of selling drugs among students is well known. I can give a rough estimate that nearly 70% of all students in Israel buy drugs from people who have a prescription. also, all my friends say it helps them to concentrate on their studies and highlights the ability astonishingly thought. When I started my university studies I went to Pinchas center to get a prescription and buy the drug legally, Unfortunately I went through their diagnosis and therefore did not receive a prescription. This is why today I am one of those 70% who use drugs like Ritalin. Of course, like everyone else, buy the drug from people who have a prescription.
    But believe me guys, it’s does wonders!

  11. How about someone builds some kind of timed pill safe that only doles out one a day? Then you could take it in every six months and have your doctor fill the hopper.

    As is, I have to get a paper prescription once a month, and only have 3 days to fill it. Problem is, me calling the doc’s office, driving to get the script, taking it to the pharmacy, and picking it up from the pharmacy are 4 separate events that require remembering and motivation. I don’t always take my pills on the weekend so I’ve taken to pill hoarding. Always making sure I refill before I need to in case I don’t get around to it when I’m supposed to.

  12. I agree totally. Canada must be much more lenient regarding ‘controlled medications’ than the U.S. When dealing with a ‘controlled substance’, a patient must see the doctor monthly for each script and each one must be filled for the total amount. Meaning I can’t fill the script for a partial amount if I can’t pay for all 30 pills, (at a cost of over $100 per month). I’ve been out of work for 2 years & the cost of my daughter’s ADD medication is ridiculous.

    One other point about ADD medication, if I may. I am sick & tired of people, (even those within the educational system) being critical of my choice to use medication to help my daughter control her ADD. No other chronic illness (mental/emotional/physical/or otherwise) would receive the kind of ignorant comments we’ve heard, like those made about ADD medication. I am sure it is attributed to the exact issue you address – abuse & over diagnoses. However, I am astounded every time it comes up.
    Thank you for all the time & effort you & your staff put into this site to provide as much free information as you do. I can’t begin to tell you how much of a help this site has been.

  13. Hi Rick , I’ve been on Adderall ‘Regular’ ,about 5 months now , and “Strattera did not help at first , because of the side effects” . My pyschiatrist told me that she has to write the prescription for Adderall , for one month , and have to bring the paper rx to the pharmacy . According to the federal laws , I have to see her once a month ,for the Adderall , and no refills . I attend a Suboxone group , at the clinic , at the Boston Med Ctr 2 times a month , so I’m there often . I am a recovering Opiate addict at 55 yrs old , with about 7 yrs clean & sober . The Suboxone saved my butt , and the Adderall has enlightened me to understand items I read ,and not having to read the sentences over , and over . Thanks to the abusers , we , or you can’t get them more easily , or more conveniently, that’s life I guess . Thanks for all you do for us ADDers , Bob D

  14. Hi Rick,

    I’m late in the game w/ answering this post from July … but hey, I have ADD!!

    In NY, you have to fill the script and pick it up within 24 hours — so bringing my script in a day early would be significantly a hassle — especially if I forgot to go back and pick it up!

    There are so many changes to our rules in NY now regarding ADD meds (well, anything on the ‘list’) but unfortunately the people that do abuse drugs are out there in droves.

    I am a student nurse — just spent time in the ED at a local hospital. There were at least 4 or 5 patients coming in with severe pain but once they learned the doctor wasn’t giving out pain meds, they would just walk out!!

    Wish it was different.
    Andi

    Ps: I just read the post from bobd51758 below, and wanted to say I was also an opioid and alcohol abuser– Naltrexone cleaned up my act. Is that the same as Suboxone? Now I just tell doctors and anyone that I am ALLERGIC to opioids and I wear a med alert bracelet. It’s too hard to slip into that.

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