UPDATE : Monday, December 10, 2018
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Students misusing ADHD medication risks increase in suicidal thoughts
  • By Constance Williams
  • Published 2017.11.03 17:37
  • Updated 2017.11.03 17:37
  • comments 0

Every November, the entire nation holds its breath as they watch senior high school students walk grimly to the exam centers to face the most crucial test in their lifetime.

From businesses rescheduling their opening hours to keeping traffic off the streets, local police offering rides to students running late, and transport authorities halting all airport landings and take-offs for 30 minutes, all show how important suneung, or the College Scholastic Ability Test, is.

As the exam is seen as the final goal and determinant of the students’ lives, enormous pressure is applied to the teenagers. The best results are admission to top universities in the country such as Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University, regarded as a safety net by ensuring a “decent job” that leads to a comfortable life.

Those who don’t do well can always retake the test after a year. Calculated in total, at least 12 years are spent to prepare for suneung, with the last three years of cramming extra study time, to result in only another year of studying if unsatisfied with the initial score.

A typical senior high school student’s day consists of 10 hours of school and spending the rest of the evening in mandatory study halls until 10 p.m. On top of that; they might have to continue studying in cram schools called hagwon, or at home.

More and more high school students are taking ADHD medications, believing it has the same effects of Adderall, a report from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety showed

To cope with the high levels of stress, more students are taking attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medication, believing that it can help them concentrate on their studies. The trend has been increasing at such an alarming rate that the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety식품의약품안전처 released a press release Thursday, warning that children who are not diagnosed with ADHD but regularly take the medication can suffer from hallucinations, depression, and heightened urges to commit suicide.

According to the ministry, ADHD is a chronic disease that is difficult to control and can occur mainly in children and adolescents. It is known to occur three times more often in boys than in girls. The most common symptoms are lack of attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior.

There are 60 different ADHD drugs used in Korea, composed of three ingredients -- clonidine hydrochloride, methylphenidate hydrochloride, and atomoxetine hydrochloride. Therapeutics is not used for the cure of the disease but to improve symptoms by increasing the number of neurotransmitters.

Because there is no simple test method for ADHD diagnosis, it is essential to consult with experts such as pharmacists before use and to use them according to the symptoms.

"It is important to consult with experts, such as pharmacists before use, and to use them according to symptoms, because the ADHD treatment is not a drug that raises the absolute score, and serious abuse can lead to suicide if the drug is misused,” the ministry said in a news release. "We will continue to provide safe use information on drugs to prevent the abuse of drugs.”


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