Mar. 13, 2022 – Combined with other social media posts and sketchy Google search results, the proliferation of drug ads on TikTok can convince kids to diagnose themselves with conditions they may not actually have, according to University of Colorado psychiatrist Dr. C. Neill Epperson. “I hear parents say, you know, my kid comes to me and says, ‘I think I have ADHD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, etc’… they’re like, where is my kid getting this?” Epperson told The Post. “‘Where are these diagnoses coming from when I haven’t taken my child to a mental healthcare provider? We haven’t even spoken to their pediatrician.’” 

‘Advertising’ versus ‘bait’

In addition to potentially drawing in users who are misdiagnosing themselves with ADHD, psychiatrists say that the startups run the risk of attracting people who are looking to get high or flip the pills for a profit.

A TikTok ad for another San Francisco startup, Ahead, promises users “a simplified treatment” for ADHD in just three steps: “1. Fill Out An Online Form. 2. Prescriptions Delivered. 3. Appointments are online.” 

Until recently, users who thumbed over to Ahead’s website were greeted with a list of drugs: Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta and Vyvnase — all prescription stimulants that are restricted by the US government due to their potential for addiction and abuse. 


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