Is it OK to share ADD medicine?

Don't end up like this guy!

ADD medicine

Q:  Is it OK to give my friend one of my ADD pills to help him study for a test?

A:  Before we answer that question, let me ask you another one.  Would you sell that pill to a stranger for $50?  I’m guessing – hoping – your answer is an emphatic “NO.”  Well, from a legal point of view, these two questions are identical.

Most ADD medications (such as Concerta, Ritalin, Adderall, Focalin, Metadate, Methylin, and Daytrana) are Schedule II controlled substances because of their serious side effects and potential for addiction.  They are monitored very closely by doctors, pharmacists, and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).  We’re not lawyers here at Student Health, but we do know that… 

It is a violation of Section 2925.03 of the Ohio Revised Code (Ohio law) to sell another person a controlled substance.  The important thing to remember here is that the legal definition of “sell” includes “delivery, barter, exchange, transfer, or gift…”  

So even if you are just trying to help out your friend – and getting nothing in exchange for it – you are breaking the law.  And we’re not talking about a speeding ticket here.  You are committing a 4th degree felony, which is punishable by 6-18 months in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.  And assuming you are anywhere on or near campus, the felony gets bumped up to 3rd degree and you’re looking at 1-5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.  Not to mention the fact that you could lose your financial aid and/or get kicked out of school.  

Now granted, the odds of someone busting into your dorm room and catching you in the act are very slim.  And unless you really don’t get along with your roommates or neighbors, odds are no one is going to turn you in.  But forget about the legal stuff for a minute.

  1. These medications are addictive and there’s a real chance your friend could get hooked on this stuff.  You don’t want to risk sending someone down that dark road.
  2. While these medications have a calming effect on people with ADD, they are actually central nervous system stimulants so in addition to things like headache, insomnia, anorexia, agitation, anxiety, tremors, vertigo, depression, and nervousness, they can cause life-threatening problems like heart attacks, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and heart arrhythmias.  Doctors evaluate people for these conditions prior to starting these medications and monitor them closely while they’re taking them.  Without knowing your friend’s health history, you could literally be putting his life at risk – and no test is worth that much. 

Managing your health is a serious responsibility and that’s especially true if you have ADD.  If you’re taking one of these medications, the best thing to do is keep it to yourself – if no one knows you have the pills, they won’t be able to ask you for one.  And if you have a friend who is taking these medicines, don’t pressure them into giving you one.  It’s more likely to hurt you than help you, and it’ll just put everyone at risk for serious trouble. 

If you have any questions about these or other medications you may be taking, the staff of Student Health Services pharmacy is always available to help!

Jason Goodman, PharmD, RPh (OSU SHS)

Is 5-Hour Energy Safe? Does It Work?

5-Hour Energy

Better than this?

Q: I drank 2 bottles of 5-hour Energy and got warm, red in the face and jittery.  Is this stuff safe?  Does it work? 

A:  5-Hour Energy, the little bottle that has sprouted like dandelions across grocery store counters everywhere, promises an immediate energy boost that lasts for hours but without the “crash” associated with other energy drinks.  Its main ingredients are B Vitamins and an “energy blend” consisting of citicoline, tyrosine, phenylalanine, taurine, malic acid, glucuronolactone and caffeine.   

We put caffeine in bold letters because while all that other stuff has that really cool “medical yet natural” sound to it, the only thing in 5-Hour Energy (or Monster or Red Bull or RockStar or any other “energy” product) that has been proven to improve mental alertness is caffeine.  

The B Vitamins in a can of 5-Hour Energy (and their percentage of Recommended Daily Allowance) include: Vitamin B3 (150%), Vitamin B6 (2000%) and Vitamin B12 (8333%).  All of these vitamins are important for your metabolism and while not having enough can hurt you, it’s never been proven that having extra will help you – or increase your energy.  And while unlikely to be dangerous, an excess of Vitamin B3 (Niacin) can produce that uncomfortable flushing sensation that you experienced.   In addition, consuming 200mg or more of Vitamin B6 (about 5 bottles) could impair the normal functioning of your nerves and muscles.  

In terms of the “crash” that 5-Hour Energy supposedly avoids, we can only assume that they are referring to the fact that it contains no sugar.   Some people – especially those with insulin resistance like diabetics – do feel a “crash” sensation when their blood sugar level goes up and then down after consuming a large amount of sugar, so this may be a theoretical benefit compared to energy drinks with sugar in them.  But again, it’s never been actually tested so we don’t really know.   

Like almost all “energy” products, 5-Hour Energy is ultimately just a glorified caffeine delivery system.  And like all drugs, caffeine has side effects: jitteriness, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and insomnia.  If you decide to try 5-hour Energy, the best we can say is never drink more than two bottles and don’t mix it with any other caffeine containing products.  If you need some quick energy for a late night of studying or driving, it probably won’t hurt you any more than a cup of coffee will.

Adam Brandeberry, Med IV (OSU COM)

John Vaughn, MD (OSU SHS)

 

Will my buddy make me fail a drug test?

Q: While I was at ComFest a few weeks ago I was around a lot of people who were smoking pot. I have a urine drug test coming up and I’m wondering if I might test positive.

A: The urine marijuana test detects a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active drug in marijuana. THC is stored in body fat and excreted in the urine. For someone who smokes a single marijuana cigarette, THC metabolites are detectable for several days. For chronic marijuana smokers, the level of THC builds up in the body fat over time and is excreted for weeks after the last time they used the drug.  Urine drug tests are set with a high threshold to eliminate false positives (people that test positive but do not use the drug).

Traces of marijuana may be detectable in the urine for a day or two in someone who was around marijuana smoke, but if you didn’t personally smoke it, you likely have nothing to worry about.  Smelling marijuana smoke at an outside event is very unlikely to result in a positive test, but it’s probably a good idea to avoid enclosed areas where people are smoking, like cars and closed rooms.