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ADHD: Controversial medications, general awareness, new insights


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD has become a landmark diagnosis of our time—a condition falling in sync with the scattered spirit of Western culture. ADHD flooded mainstream popularity during the mid 90’s when it was still considered primarily a condition that affected hyperactive children unable to focus in school. But public suspicion was sparked from the beginning. Teachers with low thresholds of patience and experience began advising parents of their children’s need for medications such as Ritalin and Adderall—the latter having become the 'drug of choice’ prescribed for the condition—and then these parents often seeking doctors who would comply with the least amount of resistance.

Moreover, the childhood age range had been ambiguously defined, causing the ADHD demographic to explode in size. It eventually came to include college students/young adults, who used the psychostimulant medications not only for schoolwork and increased concentration but also for recreational fun. And since ADHD is determined through clinical judgment one may conclude another avenue of misuse evolved through patient dishonesty and subjective diagnosis; the former, in combination with the ongoing age range controversy are two essential variables that have led to the current crisis.

It has been estimated 20 to 30 percent of college students abuse Adderall; with its candy taste and dual amphetamine formulation it packs a punch of energetic euphoria that medical experts compare to cocaine and street-meth, further crowning Adderall as “The most abused prescription drug in America.”

This article series does not intend to undermine the significance of ADHD, or make an absolute charge against the use of medications. But there are dangers embedded in the treatment, given that the age-groups most afflicted are children and young adults—the same groups warned most against crossing in the traffic of street-drugs.

Perhaps the true travesty lies in the “mixed signal message” currently communicated to the younger generations: on the one hand, it would appear society condones and promotes amphetamines as a benevolent “learning tool,” while on the other, they are told meth./cocaine use is the dead of all ends. In reality, street meth may be compared to an 'inbred' version of the pharmaceutical form; the latter just a purer and 'cleaner' formulation, compared with the meth born inside suburban garage labs across the country.

Regardless of the difficulty faced by those truly affected by ADHD, we may wish to reexamine the broader scope and protracted implications of prescribing methamphetamines as a source of assistance, especially when there is public suspicion of whether ADHD actually exists as a valid “mental disorder.”

All considered it would appear a serious charge could be made—perhaps not on a legal front but certainly on a moral ground—that the rising use of street-meth and the resulting death toll is in part caused by the FDA’s questionable approval control and by the DEA’s failure to contain a problem they should have seen coming.

Who might have guessed that the widespread use of prescription amphetamines would have led to a new generation’s drug of choice? Who might have thought such medications could ever serve as a workable tool for anything in the high demands of a consumer driven culture, without the recourse of disaster.

And yet who do we blame? And who pays the priceless price? It seems like fighting a war and facilitating the loss of life through ‘friendly fire.’


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