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Teens and Smart Drug Abuse

Today’s teens have a lot more on their plates than teens of the past. They face academic challenges at school, pressure to perform in extracurricular activities and the need to get into the right college. All of these pressures can make it tempting to take illicit substances to boost their mental energy. As a result, the use of smart drugs has skyrocketed among teens in the recent years.

Smart drugs are stimulants that temporarily enhance brain function. They include amphetamines, modafinil, armodafinil, and adrafinil, among others. Many teens use these drugs to stay up late, concentrate longer, improve focus and succeed in school, sports and other areas.

Although it may sound like a good idea to use smart drugs to accomplish more, these substances can be harmful and addictive when misused. If your teen is abusing smart drugs, it’s important that you inform yourself of the risks, and that they receive the help they need to stop.

Types of Smart Drugs

The most common smart drugs abused by teens are:


Provigil is the brand name for modafinil, a prescription drug used to treat narcolepsy, sleep apnea and other sleeping problems.


Ritalin is another prescription drug used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. It includes the stimulant methylphenidate.


Nuvigil is the brand name for armodafinil, a prescription drug also used to treat sleeping disorders.


Adderall is a prescription drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It includes amphetamines – powerful stimulant drugs.

Effects and Risks of Smart Drugs

While many young people see smart drugs as a way to boost their performance, there are major risks associated with their use. They can also be addictive.

Short-term effects of smart drugs

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Rashes
  • Blistering
  • Easy bleeding and bruising
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Dry mouth
  • Upper respiratory infection

Long-term problems resulting from smart drugs

  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Seizures
  • Psychotic disorders

Smart drug abuse has also been linked to brain damage. Because some smart drugs are relatively new, the full extent of their associated risks isn’t known as long-term research on them hasn’t yet been conducted. If your teen is using smart drugs, it’s important to help them understand the risks and quit using them as soon as possible.

How Teens Use Smart Drugs

Teens often get these drugs from friends or online stores. In many cases, abuse of prescription medications starts in family medicine cabinets – which is why it’s important for parents to keep track of and protect prescription medicines at home.

Signs and Symptoms of Smart Drug Abuse

At some point, teens who are abusing these medications will probably demonstrate signs of abuse. These can include:

  • Excessive performance anxiety around school, sports, etc.
  • Pulling all-nighters
  • Inability to sleep
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Dilated pupils
  • Tiredness
  • Depression
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Impaired vision
  • Extreme shifts in mood

What to do if Your Teen is Abusing Smart Drugs

If you’re concerned that your teen is abusing smart drugs, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some points to keep in mind:

• It’s important to listen to them:

If your teen is using smart drugs, there’s a good chance that they’re feeling a lot of pressure to succeed. It’s important that you know your kid’s limits, and simply listening can help you do that.

• Avoid judging:

Your child will be more likely to open up if they know that you will accept them as they are. Be willing to listen with an attitude of acceptance.

• Remember that they may not be telling you everything:

Your teen probably doesn’t feel comfortable sharing the extent of their drug use with you, so in addition to listening to them, watch for the signs of abuse.

• When in doubt, consult an addiction professional:

Quitting substance abuse is easier said than done – many drugs are habit-forming and require more than just willpower to stop. Others have uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms that make quitting complicated.
The compassionate team at Sandstone Care can help. We dedicate our focus entirely to working with young people who are struggling with substance abuse and mental health concerns, and have seen plenty of young people turn things around for the better. To learn more about how we can help your family, give us a call at (888) 850-1890.

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