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robertogreco : psychostimulants   2

The Addicted Generation — Pacific Standard
"Did we fail our kids by relying on prescription medication to treat ADHD?"



"Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine are all classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as Schedule II drugs, given their high potential for misuse, abuse, and psychological or physical dependency. Other Schedule II drugs include Vicodin, cocaine, OxyContin, and opium. Diller believes there is reason to be cautious about long-term use of ADHD drugs. “In my experience, the kids who have been on it for years improve behaviorally, but many of them wind up still feeling psychologically dependent when, in my opinion, they no longer need it,” he says. He mentions the risks of dependence to families, but also recognizes that there’s a tradeoff. “We have to weigh the short-term benefits of getting them through the next five years of school.”

Dependency is determined by the presence of physical or mental symptoms during withdrawal from repeated substance use, like night sweats or irritability. It is possible to become dependent on a substance even when used as directed. Addiction is defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as compulsive drug use, despite harmful consequences to one’s life. There is a fine line between dependency and addiction, and the two are often conflated, with addiction being the more commonly used term in everyday conversation.

“I felt like I was addicted to it,” says Amy, 31, a graduate student who started taking Adderall in high school. She abused her medication in college, mostly as an appetite suppressant. She also sold extra pills during finals, and to friends in search of a poor man’s substitute for cocaine.

Cocaine and amphetamine work somewhat similarly. Both flood the brain with dopamine, a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger. Depending on its location in the brain, dopamine can influence pleasure, motivation, attention, psychosis, or desire.

“In my practice, if I use the word ‘amphetamine,’ parents immediately are in shock,” says William Graf, a professor of pediatrics and neurology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. “If you say ‘stimulant medication’ or ‘Adderall,’ people don’t blink.”"



"One risk concerns appetite suppression, a common side effect of stimulant medication, which can cause nutritional deficits in young children. Melissa, a 28-year-old assistant to a financial advisor who took Ritalin in grade school, recalls coming home with her lunchbox full, day after day. “There were a few months when I actually stopped growing,” she says. Sleep problems, not surprisingly, are also associated with stimulant use. “I had horrible insomnia,” Brittany says. “When I was about 10 years old, they put me on Ambien to counteract the Adderall. I would take a little quarter of one to go to bed a couple times a week.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t even address children under the age of four in its practice guidelines to treat ADHD. And while the package insert for methylphenidate explicitly cautions against its use by those under the age of six, prescriptions for the drug tripled among preschoolers nationwide between 1991 and 1995 alone. Two other popular stimulants, dextroamphetamine and Adderall, are being administered at even younger ages. According to a paper from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, these drugs have been approved by the FDA for use in children as young as three, “even though there are no published controlled data showing safety and efficacy.”

This trend is “totally mind-blowing,” Graf says. “You’re giving amphetamines to little children. It should be evident why one would be concerned. I was taught as an intern that we never give Ritalin below the age of six, ever,” he adds. “There is a place, rarely, for medication for out-of-control behavior in a four-year-old, but not with any of the stimulants.”

Has ADHD become so deeply ingrained within our society that widespread stimulant use is simply accepted? Has it become so normalized that anyone who occasionally gets distracted can go running to the doctor’s office for a prescription? Have we become, as Diller predicted, a culture running on Ritalin?

Graf recalls an afternoon driving in the car with his daughter, as she flipped the radio from song to song. “I think I have a little bit of ADHD,” she said. “She was joking, of course,” Graf says, “but the fact is that it trickles down to kids’ day-to-day vocabulary. I think there are a lot of people out there who are convinced they have a little ADHD and now they’re being medicalized. I think this is epidemic. The locomotive has left the station and it’s moving forward. This is the way we’re raising kids these days.”"
madeleinethomas  adhd  drugs  medicine  eduction  medication  ritalin  cdc  2016  dsm  hyperactivity  schools  education  psychology  carlythompson  pediatrics  williamgraf  adderall  neurology  amphetamines  dexedrine  behavior  focalin  concerta  psychostimulants 
july 2016 by robertogreco
My romance with ADHD meds. - By Joshua Foer - Slate Magazine
"I felt less like myself. Though I could put more words to the page per hour on Adderall, I had a nagging suspicion that I was thinking w/ blinders on…"

"There's also the risk that Adderall can work too well…Paul Erdös, who famously opined that "a mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems," began taking Benzedrine in his late 50s & credited drug w/ extending his productivity long past expiration date of colleagues. But he eventually became psychologically dependent. In 1979, a friend offered Erdös $500 to kick his Benzedrine habit for a month. Erdös met the challenge, but his productivity plummeted so drastically that he decided to go back…After a 1987 Atlantic profile discussed his love affair w/ psychostimulants, [he] wrote the author a rueful note. "You shouldn't have mentioned the stuff about Benzedrine. It's not that you got it wrong. It's just that I don't want kids who are thinking about going into math to think that they have to take drugs to succeed.""
paulerdos  drugs  adhd  productivity  psychology  writing  adderall  add  benzedrine  psychostimulants  concentration  philipkdick  grahamgreene  jackkerouac 
february 2011 by robertogreco

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