Push of Amphetamine Medications Spark Abuse

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Over two million young people have abused prescription stimulants.

A new report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University shows that prescription drug abuse among teens tripled from 1992 to 2003. The survey indicated that one in 10 teenagers (10 percent), or 2.3 million young people, has tried prescription stimulants Ritalin and/or Adderall without a doctor's order.

Additionally, each year the Monitoring the Future study measures the extent of drug use among adolescents and young adults nationwide. The 2004 results on annual use indicate that 2.5 percent of 8th-graders abused methylphenidate (Ritalin), as did 3.4 percent of 10th-graders and 5.1 percent of 12th-graders.

In 1987, members of the American Psychiatric Association voted ADHD to be a mental disorder for inclusion in its Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Because stimulant medicines such as methylphenidate do have potential for abuse, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has placed stringent, Schedule II controls on their manufacture, distribution, and prescription.

In 1995, in response to a petition by Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD) and the American Academy of Neurology to lower the regulatory controls on methylphenidate, the DEA conducted an extensive review of the use, abuse liability, actual abuse, diversion, and trafficking of methylphenidate. The CHADD petition attempted to characterize methylphenidate as a mild stimulant with little abuse potential, however this is not what the review found and the petitioners subsequently withdrew their request.

A number of questionable practices have contributed to the diversion and abuse of stimulant medication including improper diagnosis, lack of adequate information to youth, parents, and schools regarding the abuse potential of these drugs and lax handling of medication (Consensus statement, 1996 DEA Conference).

The DEA findings concluded that long-term studies looking at the effects of using these drugs are very limited; the medical use of stimulants in the treatment of active children continues to escalate; the expansive use of these drugs for childhood behavioral characteristics in the United States differs significantly from medical practices in the rest of the world (United Nations data) and that poison control data, emergency room data and high school surveys all indicate that the abuse of methylphenidate has increased significantly since 1990.

The consequences of stimulant abuse can be extremely dangerous. Taking high doses of a stimulant can result in an irregular heartbeat, dangerously high body temperatures, and/or the potential for cardiovascular failure or seizures. Taking high doses of some stimulants repeatedly over a short period of time can lead to hostility or feelings of paranoia in some individuals.

One of the nation's largest and most successful drug rehabilitation and education programs, Narconon Arrowhead, reports an observable increase in those seeking treatment for substance abuse after having been prescribed amphetamines or abusing others' prescriptions and then winding up on other drugs. Luke Catton, a supervisor for Narconon Arrowhead said, "Those of us working in the rehabilitation and prevention field have enough people to help already. We don't need new addicts being created because of a subjective diagnosis that calls for giving kids addictive drugs."

Catton also points out that many of the symptoms of a child who's prescribed these harmful drugs align closely with signs of kids who are considered gifted and that the line between the two is too ambiguous.

Narconon Arrowhead is a non-traditional rehabilitation and education program that is highly effective in helping people become drug-free. Based on the research and developments by L. Ron Hubbard, the Narconon program continues to grow because of its effectiveness and education and rehabilitation centers now operate in nearly 40 countries.

For more information on drugs and addiction call Narconon Arrowhead today at 1-800-468-6933 or log on to http://www.stopaddiction.com.

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Luke Catton
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