« Reinhart and Rogoff's critics agree: more debt, slower growth | Main | Option pit »

Fresno State tightening the rules on diagnosis of A.D.H.D. and the subsequent prescription of amphetamine-based medications like Vyvanse and Adderall

FRESNO, California. -- Lisa Beach, a senior at California State University, Fresno, endured two months of testing and paperwork before the student health office at her college approved a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Then, to get a prescription for Vyvanse, a standard treatment for A.D.H.D., she had to sign a formal contract -- promising to submit to drug testing, to see a mental health professional every month and to not share the pills.

New college policies about A.D.H.D. tend not to apply to other medical or psychiatric conditions -- suggesting discrimination, said Ruth Hughes, the chief executive of the advocacy group Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Such rules create "a culture of fear and stigma," she said, adding that if students must sign a contract to obtain stimulants, they should have to do so for the painkillers that are also controlled substances and are known to be abused.

"If a university is very concerned about stimulant abuse, I would think the worst thing they could do is to relinquish this responsibility to unknown community practitioners," Ms. Hughes said. "Nonprescribed use of stimulant medications on campus is a serious problem that can't just be punted to someone else outside the school grounds."

Fresno State officials said a disquieting surge of students requesting A.D.H.D. diagnoses -- along with news media reports of stimulant abuse and questionable diagnostic practices nationwide -- led the university to change several policies last year. Now, students with an outside diagnosis of A.D.H.D. can fill their prescriptions at the Student Health Center only after providing documentation of a thorough evaluation by qualified mental health practitioners -- which typically involves hours of neuropsychological testing and conversations with parents and teachers to assess impairment and other possible explanations.

Fresno State no longer makes diagnoses, largely because of the substantial time required "to do it right," said Catherine Felix, its director of health and psychological services. Many universities, including North Carolina State, Georgia Tech and Penn State, also said they could no longer handle the volume of requests.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)