Students may have to wait nearly three months to get an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder diagnosis and prescription from Student Health and Counseling.
Counseling Director Harry Linneman said that the center has seen a spike in students wanting ADHD evaluations, but the center does not have the resources to see every student immediately. He said the media plays a role in increasing evaluation demands.
“Television documentaries and other publicity about adult ADHD is increasing the awareness of this as a possible issue,” Linneman said.
Linneman said SHAC does not compile data for the prescriptions it writes. He said SHAC takes precautionary measures when diagnosing the disorder. Students must undergo a battery of examinations before getting a diagnosis, Linneman said, and SHAC is careful not to over-prescribe for ADHD because students can misuse the medication.
“We don’t pretend that our system at SHAC is perfect, but we try to provide a reasonably thoughtful and thorough diagnostic process and limit our prescription of stimulants,” Linneman said.
SHAC’s policy, Linneman said, differs from many colleges and universities.
The University of Arizona, for example, does not diagnose ADHD, according to its health care website, because evaluations are time consuming. Health officials will, however, treat students if they can prove they were previously treated for the disorder.
The University of Colorado in Boulder’s system is similar to UNM’s.
CU’s student health center has a maximum three-week wait time for evaluations, according to its website, and evaluations cost $661, more than double what SHAC charges.
Barbara Krause, a family nurse practitioner at SHAC, said Ritalin and Adderall fall under the Control Substance Act, a federal drug policy that regulates the use of substances and medications. She said that on a five-point scale, ADHD stimulants are level-III controlled substances.
Krause said doctors can prescribe only a month’s worth of ADHD drugs.“Like other controlled substances, if they are taken as prescribed and at appropriate doses, this usually can be avoided,” she said. “We also do not want these medications to get into the hands of those they have not been prescribed.”
Linneman said if students can’t wait for an evaluation, other community resources offer costlier treatment methods.
“It is our goal at SHAC not to make them available for parties, all-night study sessions, or last-minute cramming for students who do not meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD,” he said.