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Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Girl studyingThe New York Times recently reported on a disturbing trend of prescription stimulant use that is sweeping high schools across the country. Teens feel so pressured to get good grades and eventually get accepted to a top college, that they turn to Adderall and other stimulants to work harder and speed up their performance. The Times interviewed students, parents, and doctors, all of whom concur that pills have become a major part of many teens’ high school experience; kids buy these drugs from friends who have prescriptions, or they fake symptoms of A.D.H.D. in order to get their own prescriptions.

One Drug Enforcement Administration agent confirmed, “We’re seeing it all across the United States.” Because of their addictive nature, prescription stimulants like Adderall and Vyvanse (amphetamines) and Ritalin and Focalin (methylphenidates) are listed as Class 2 controlled substances, just as cocaine and morphine are. These drugs are high-risk despite being legal for medical use, and because of their legality many teens and adults alike make the incorrect and often disastrous assumption that these drugs are safe.

But abuse of these drugs can cause depression, mood swings, insomnia, heart irregularities, and acute exhaustion or psychosis. We don’t know much about their long-term effects, and they lead many abusers to eventually abuse painkillers or sleep aids as well.

“Once you break the seal on using pills, or any of that stuff, it’s not scary anymore — especially when you’re getting A’s,” says one teen who began using Adderall and later became addicted to Percocet and heroin.

“It’s throughout all the private schools here,” adds NY psychologist DeAnsin Parker. “It’s not as if there is one school where this is the culture. This is the culture.”

Source: New York Times

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