More kids are abusing ADHD and ADD drugs
Courtny Gerrish, Stephanie Graham
Annie was introduced to ADHD medications when she was just 13-years-old by a friend with a prescription.
"I really liked the effect and how they made me feel, so I sought out my own prescriptions from doctors," Annie says.
By the time she was in college, she was abusing the drugs daily. She knew she needed help. She recalls, "Significant weight loss, irritable moods. I started lying, being dishonest, stealing."
Dr. Timothy Wilens, Director for the Center of Addiction Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital says an estimated five to ten percent of young people are misusing or abusing ADHD medications. "If you're just popping them willy nilly and you're using them in context with other substances, which is frequently occurring, that could be potentially dangerous."
Rehab centers say they're seeing an influx of patients addicted to the drugs. Velvet Mangan is CEO of Safe Harbor Treatment Centers For Women. She says, "It's huge. I have probably a hundred clients and over 80% of them have been addicted to Adderall since they were in grade school. It's an enormous rise from just 10 years ago."
Experts blame the fact that the drugs are easy to obtain and socially acceptable.
"It's just kind of the norm on college campuses, just like drinking is," Mangan explains.
According to the experts, the typical values that exist in families around the use of illicit drugs don't seem to come into play here. But the DEA lists these prescription stimulants as schedule two controlled substances - the same as cocaine and oxycontin.
"It's similar to misusing any kind of amphetamine or speed or cocaine. And it's going to require abstinence from that. It's going to require recovery management skills, how to fight urges, how to fight cravings," Dr. Wilens warns.
Rehab centers also focus on the emotional problems behind the substance abuse.
"It's not what you use, it's why you're using. So we focus on life skills, we focus on self esteem," Mangan says.
Through rehab, Annie got the help she needed. She's about to celebrate four years of sobriety. She says, "It's a really sad and lonely place to be. But there is hope and there is a solution."
Experts point out in addition to being harmful to your health and addictive, selling your adhd prescription or even just giving it away to your friends is actually a felony offense subject to serious penalties, including fines and jail time if convicted.