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.
- 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.
- 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)