The Dark Side of ADD ADHD Medication

Online news just reported that some teens were arrested for selling prescription drugs. While this likely happens all over North America on a regular basis – it raises a very important issue and is thus worth reviewing.

Which medicines were these teens selling?

Adderall.

The short acting stuff.

Let’s get a few things straight:

* ADHD Medication is not addictive – if it is taken as prescribed.
* Treatment with ADHD medication has been proven to actually reduce the risk of drug addiction in adolescence/adulthood.
* The long acting stimulants are virtually not abusable (i.e. Concerta, Adderall XR, Metadate CD, Ritalin LA, etc.)
* The Daytrana patch is not abusable.
* The new prodrug Vyvanse is not abusable at all
* The non-stimulant Strattera is not abusable at all.

So why do kids buy ADHD medication for abuse?

If the short acting medicines are crushed and snorted – they can produce a ‘high’. In the Toronto area, a regular (short acting) Ritalin pill (of 10 mg) sells for approximately $5.

This is medically dangerous on many levels – not only is this unsupervised use of the medication, but generally teens will take a higher than recommended dose. This can cause cardiovascular issues.

What to do about this?

If you have a teen who has any history of substance abuse – including cigarettes, marijuana, or drinking, and he/she gets interested in taking their short acting Ritalin or Adderall – think of this article – and get suspicious!
I have experience with teens who realized that their dealer doesn’t want Concerta – so they come back to the doctor with a story about how they want short acting Ritalin. It is not necessarily for their ADHD – they may see it as an easy way to pay for their habits with marijuana or other street drugs.

If you are able to – get your child/teen onto one of the newer medications which is not abusable at all.

Please share your thoughts or comments below.

Dr. Kenny

p.s. To get all of the information that you need to know about Medication for ADD and ADHD, visit: Medication Mastery

[tags] ADHD, ADD, parenting, Medication, Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, Daytrana, Strattera, Metadate, Concerta [/tags]

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Comments

  1. One of the worst thing about Ritalin is that it is so redily avaliable. I was floored when a friend of mine walked into a doctors office and convinced a doctor that he has focusing issuse and is try to get through the semester, implying ADD and the doctor wrote a percription for him without a formal DSM IV assessment by a psychologist.
    Families need to be more vigilant about questions and not being affraid to get second opinions. This is a mistake me and my family made, which is why I mention this. We just assumed this “sepcialist” was looking out for my better interests and when I was perscribed 9 Ritalin a day, supposedly beause my body was developing a esistance to it …..I began thinking there was a problem.

    I think this needs to be nipped in the butt by the professionals and stricter regulations on perscritions need to be in place, as well as assessment tools more easily accessable for those who do have ligitimate concerns about their state.
    Its a pharmaceutical free for all out there and people are going to continue to get hurt.

  2. “I have experience with teens who realized that their dealer doesn’t want Concerta – so they come back to the doctor with a story about how they want short acting Ritalin. It is not necessarily for their ADHD – they may see it as an easy way to pay for their habits with marijuana or other street drugs.”

    Hi Kenny-

    I worry that your advice to parents might be a bit too narrow.

    While addiction is certainly a concern with Ritalin and Adderall, parents should take an active interest in their kids’ lives, rather than just flippantly switching them to non-addictive meds. Frankly, that sounds like a lazy, simplistic solution to a complicated, nuanced situation. What about encouraging parents to listen to their kids, in addition to being suspicious of them?

    I’ve taken short-acting Adderall for almost a decade, and never once sold my meds to drug-dealers. When the less-addictive Stratera hit the market, I was enthusiastic about it. But I found that it gave me horrendous stomach aches and did nothing whatsoever to treat my A.D.D. Thankfully, my parents trusted me, rather than requiring me to take an ineffective drug that gave me stomach pains.

  3. I was on prescribed Ritalin from 1994 to 2002; I was 61 when I started. Watching a TV special program convinced me that I had ADHD. This was one of those defining events in my life. I went for psychiatric counseling for 5 years and group for 2 years.
    From the start, I was conscious of a desire not to become overly reliant on a drug and discussed with my psychiatrist the need to ween myself off of the drug later in life. When I did not take Ritalin for a few days or weeks, I seemed to really notice an improvement in memory and functioning (as did some of my friends) like a reduction in the frequency of not remembering what I came into the room to do and an ability to sit at the computer for longer periods of time.
    My psychiatrist and I discussed a possible side effect and that was that the drug kind of put a damper on creativity and I did not want that to happen on a regular continual basis. I wanted to be creative when I wanted and have more control over myself at times when self-control was really called for. About that time a friend showed me how to grind up the pills and snort them. He called Ritalin “the poor man’s coke”. I really did not see anything wrong with this. In fact, I thought it was great improvement from taking a prescribed dosage every morning and night. It gave me the control I wanted that allowed me to the “creative meeting interrupter” when I wanted and the more controlled observer when I wanted.

    Soon, I learned that I could mix a little cocaine powder in with the Ritalin and even be more productive when I needed to be. I went on to a more than casual involvement with illegal drugs. I was attracted to this community more because I needed friends at that time in my life and it was not till I tried Crack Cocaine that I began to experience symptoms of addiction. I was able to stop the dependence on Crack but not until 3 or 4 possession arrests and finally a charge for “intent to distribute”. I made life very difficult for myself but at the same time I was forced to faced the shame demons from my childhood that gave me the feelings of low self-worth which lead to my experimentation with drugs and even worse full blown co-dependency problems.
    I am now 73 and am trying to develop some source of income to replace all that I lost and, although the pressure to succeed are extreme, I am managing to avoid drugs — for one thing I can’t afford them but on another level, I feel if I cannot use them when I need them then I risk the chance of becoming to reliant on them, I know others will say: “but thats the essence of addiction (taking drugs when you feel you need them rather than having some doctor who doesn’t really know how I feel tell me to take two in the morning and two in the evening. Frankly, I would rather avoid the whole drug thing and find some other way to adjust to life with people who happen to be from another planet than me.

  4. I’d like to say that your assertion that Adderall XR is not abusable is absolutely not true. I know this because I used to abuse Adderall XR recreationally for a few years. All you have to do is crush the little orange time release balls into a fine powder and eat it and you can get very “high” (anything from 30 to 90 mg total, or 2-4 pills). However, we frowned upon snorting it, no matter what kind of Adderall it was.

  5. Hi Dr. Kenny

    I read an article in Israeli newspaper that in examination period in one of universities Ritalin is popular among students. Regular students, without ADHD, try to buy the med illegally, they say they take Ritalin and just learn like rockets, this make them hyper focused before exams. Ohhh. I am scared to give meds to my ADHD son, and they …

    I do alternative treatment with my son – to stop ADHD, to cure him of this. These are crawling exercises. Welcome to my site – watch our videos, crawling.

    Arieh
    CrawlingClub.org

  6. Hi Arieh and Dr. Kenny and everybody,

    So, uh, I didn’t do crawling exercises, but I have to tell you that Ritalin and Concerta do NOT help me to HYPERfocus. They help my behavior, my hyper-emotionality, and my distractability, but I do not “learn like a rocket,” or whatever the phrase is. If you have ADHD, this medication will not make you hyperfocused. It will make you average, normal, adaptable. And it will help you to make positive changes in your life. Crawling sounds fun, but I’d rather take a pill and get on with my life.

  7. Before I share my thoughts on this article, I’d like to offer a bit of praise for the author.

    As both a healthcare professional (nurse practitioner, diabetes educator) and a mother of four children, three of whom have been diagnosed with ADD and/or Adult ADD, this is an issue that hits particularly close to home. Naturally, I tend to seek out information about ADD and related topics, and I breathed a sigh of relief tonight when I first made my discovery of your blog.

    I have read about eight of your articles since I first came upon this blog a few hours ago. I must say, so far I have been very impressed with what I’ve read.

    Now for my thoughts regarding the subject of abuse of ADD medications, I suspect that the reason many of these teens and young adults may seek to avert Concerta is actually far more benign that an intention to resell the drugs. One of my own children with ADD tried Concerta long before ever trying Ritalin or Adderall. The therapy lasted for over a month, and my child reported no significant improvement in the condition. That same child found noticeable results the very first time taking Adderrall. This child didn’t even want to go see the doctor, much less take the medication, and certainly hasn’t been selling it.

    My hypothesis is that many of these kids may simply not find Concerta effective. These kids will likely pass this information along to their friends when questioned about ADD by a friend who thinks he/she may suffer from the condition.

    Granted, this will not hold true in some cases, and there is undoubtedly abuse taking place in some circumstances. However, I don’t agree though with the notion that a specific request for an alternative to Concerta is a tell-tale sign of drug-dealing activity or recreational drug habits by either the patient seeking the medication or his/her friends.

  8. The Dark Side of ADD ADHD Medication | ADD ADHD Blog.com…

    Online news just reported that some teens were arrested for selling prescription drugs. While this likely happens all over North America on a regular basis – it raises a very important issue and is thus worth reviewing

    This is medically dangerous on m…

  9. The Dark Side of ADD ADHD Medication | ADD ADHD Blog.com…

    Online news just reported that some teens were arrested for selling prescription drugs. While this likely happens all over North America on a regular basis – it raises a very important issue and is thus worth reviewing….

  10. The Dark Side of ADD ADHD Medication | ADD ADHD Blog.com…

    Online news just reported that some teens were arrested for selling prescription drugs. While this likely happens all over North America on a regular basis – it raises a very important issue and is thus worth reviewing….

  11. The Dark Side of ADD ADHD Medication | ADD ADHD Blog.com…

    Online news just reported that some teens were arrested for selling prescription drugs. While this likely happens all over North America on a regular basis – it raises a very important issue and is thus worth reviewing….

  12. Folks

    First let me start by saying that I am a healthy, productive adult with ADD. I am not nor have I ever been interested in taking drugs or alcohol for recreational pleasure. (not that I have never)

    As far as I see it, the prescription medications that are being discussed here are not the problem. If a person has a tendency to substance abuse, they are going to find whatever it takes to give the desired effect. Be it pot, alcohol or Ritalin (model glue for god sake).

    For those of you who are looking for an objective version of how this medication has helped instead of hindered an otherwise healthy adult, I have this to say…..I have been taking Concerta “as prescribed” by my practitioner with fantastic results. And yes of course it is a trial and error process to find which medication and dosage is correct for you, as is any other medication, prescribed or otherwise. I have no inclination to increase my dose because I am getting immune to it, nor do I have a desire to snort it. I merely use it as directed and I am able to focus on the task at hand rather than have to go back to it fifteen times or not complete it at all.

    Before starting on the medication, I was functioning just fine in my profession,(because my job involves alot of multi-tasking which is easier than focusing on one project) but where I really noticed that I was lacking was at home. It wasn’t that I liked my house always being disorganized or projects incomplete, but there just always seemed to be something better to do or my mind was racing elsewhere.

    It wasn’t until I began to do some research in an attempt to help my son, that I realized that I too had ADD and am not just lazy or undomesticated. I just can not stay focused on one task for too long. That was when I decided to give the medication a try myself before allowing it to be prescribed to my son.

    After some adjustments to dose and drug, I have found that Concerta has only enhanced my life. I do not feel like I am dependent on it and in fact I do not take it every single day. (but of course those are the typical ADD days when I forget about it) yet I have no ill effect of not doing so. I have found that I don’t put in as much overtime at work as I used to because I can finish things instead of getting side tracked by someone walking by or the conversation that is taking place in the next office. And as such, I have more time at home which of course is now spent completing household chores, helping the kids with their homework and having much more patience in general.

    Would I be ok without the drug…of course…but the way I look at this medication is, it is like having a job, you don’t have to have one…you’d find a way to survive without one but if you desire a better quality of life or a higher standard of living your going to find one. And to me, for healthy individuals with no other psychological issues, that’s what this drug is like…a much better job. My quality of life has improved. And after all…….Is that not the intention of essentially ALL prescription medication

  13. Like Frederick Voorhees, I think that this advice is too narrow too.
    It would be better indeed if parents would take active interests in whatever their children are up to.
    Just making it harder to obtain (short-acting) Adderall or Ritalin or stigmatising these stimulant medications will make it harder for those who are really helped by these medications.
    I had a similar bad experience as Frederick had with Strattera because the psychiatrist whom I first saw for ADD refused to prescribe Ritalin to adults because she was convinced that adults get addicted to them. Maybe there are some doctors out there who prescribe it too easily, but I have seen a lot more often that doctors, people with ADD and others having the silliest notions about it and trying ineffective third-choice drugs or nonsensical alternative treatments rather than to give Ritalin or Adderal a try. I am really concerned that feeding those sentiments isn’t going to do a great deal of good.
    Luckily I found another psychiatrist who was a lot more sensible. After trying various stimulants we settled on dexedrine, I’ve been on that for more than three years now and it works very well.

  14. Hello Dr. Kenny,
    Would you please explain – How does biofeedback works?
    Is it covered under OHIP or ODSP?

    Thanks!
    Luna

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