Friday Sep 04 2009
Straight Talk: Are Adderall and Ritalin the steroids of studying?
By: Lauren Forcella
Dear Straight Talk: I’m concerned for friends who buy Adderall and Ritalin at school in order to stay up late studying. One of my friends is on antidepressants and I worry about her combining prescription drugs. Parents have no idea that you get any drug you want within 5 minutes at high school. Adderall and Ritalin and very popular and the kids selling them don’t understand that pharmaceuticals can react badly with other prescriptions. What can be done about this situation? ~ Redding, CA Rachel, 18, Fair Oaks: It seems like I blinked and all these intense pharmaceuticals came into play. I am so surprised at the number of kids using them all the time. Brie, 18, Ashland, OR: I know someone whose little brother was on Adderall and she and her friend would steal it. They were taking it strictly to get high, not for studying. Getting Adderall and Ritalin is easy and many parents suspect it is being abused but don’t know what to do. Have a serious talk with your friend about the danger of mixing prescriptions. If that doesn’t help, alert an authority figure. Johannes, 22, Springfield, MO: Adderall is like legal cheating. I scored 100 percent on a college paper that many students struggled with. I was in the library 10 hours straight doing nothing but research and writing. Coming down isn’t great and sleeping afterward is sometimes impossible but lots of college students abuse this drug because it’s cheap, easy to get, and bottom line: it works. Katrina, 16, Collinsville, OK: This guy in middle school would crush Ritalin in class! I told the teachers. Katelyn, 14, Huntington Beach: I don’t go to public school, so I don’t see many drugs. However, a friend does, and when her friends use drugs, she tells them to stop and why. Sometimes she evens tells their parents or teachers. That’s what I would do. Jessie, 17, Ashland, OR: The prescription drug most abused at my school is Vicodin, but pharmaceuticals in general aren’t nearly as popular as marijuana. Nicole, 19, Arcata: A friend uses antidepressants to keep her off hard drugs, yet she takes Adderall, too, so she can stay up and finish her homework. The catch is she is a straight-A student. I would be more worried about kids who are falling behind because it’s easy to slip from Ritalin and Adderall into harder uppers, like cocaine and meth. As for the dealers, they don’t care about you, they just want your money. Maureen, 17, Redding: I knew someone selling prescription drugs so I yelled at him about the dangers and told him to stop or I would have the principal search him. I didn’t hear about him selling anymore. Dear Redding: You ask what can be done. Most kids aren’t as brave as Maureen, but anyone can tip off authority figures quietly and anonymously. I urge you to do this. It’s your campus. You know who is dealing, not the teachers. Please take action. Alcohol, marijuana, pharmaceuticals, this is the order of our campus’ drug problem — and pharms are skyrocketing. Adderall and Ritalin are the most prescribed of attention-deficit drugs and the most abused among them. Both drugs are amphetamine-based and addictive. While some kids use them to get high, most use them as a “study drug.” The August Pediatrics reports that calls to poison control centers from teens abusing ADHD drugs soared 76 percent from 1998 to 2005. Risks include irregular rapid heartbeat, elevated body temperature, dangerously high blood pressure, heart attacks, and seizures. And your brain? It doesn’t care whether you’re an A-student or a dropout. Once it has a “learned chemical appetite” for Ritalin and Adderall it is more prone to meth and cocaine addiction due to their chemical familiarity. To ask a question or inquire about being a youth panelist, visit www.straighttalkforteens.com or write P.O. Box 963 Fair Oaks, CA 95628.