Adderall, one of the most frequently prescribed medications for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), is killing children and adults but despite several reported deaths related to Adderall, there is no action by the FDA. On Feb. 7, 2013, NBC News published the story of 24-year-old Richard Fee in the article “Dad's word of warning: Adderall 'changed' my son.”
“Richard’s story, profiled in Sunday’s New York Times, shows a 24-year-old man who continually lied to doctors to abuse Adderall and Vyvanse, another medication used for ADHD symptoms, ultimately suffering a psychiatric breakdown that hospitalized him for a week. In November 2011, he hanged himself in a bedroom closet.”
Richard Fee’s story is not the only account by parents that have lost a loved one due to taking Adderall for ADHD.
On Feb. 6, 2013, LawyersandSettlements published the story of Danny in the article “Adderall: A Mother’s Heartbreak.”
“My son was only 31 years old and healthy ... but there is a history of heart disease in our family so why was he prescribed this drug, knowing that he could have an Adderall heart attack? … Danny was a physical therapist, a body builder and a wrestler. But he went through a period of depression after a breakup with his girlfriend so a psychologist prescribed Adderall to help him concentrate."
"Emergency-room visits for misuse of hyperactivity drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin have more than doubled in five years, with young adult abuse growing even faster, according to a new federal report. … Abuse among young adults can be traced, in part, to misuse by 18- to 25-year-olds using drugs for all-night study sessions, for staying conscious longer so they can drink more, and for weight loss. ... ER visits whose listed reasons included an ADHD stimulant rose from 13,379 in 2005 to 31,244 just five years later, according to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. ER visits by those 18-25 nearly quadrupled in that time, to 8,148.”
However, as the story of Richard and Danny show, the psychological and physical dangers of taking Adderall as a prescription medication for ADHD go far beyond the widely reported abuse of Adderall by college students.
Adderall is a psychostimulant medication that contains amphetamine. Adderall is a dopamine releasing agent, a norepinephrine releasing agent, and can be mildly serotonergic.
Amphetamine is a psychostimulant drug that produces increased wakefulness and focus in association with decreased fatigue and appetite, one of the reasons why it is a favorite drug among college students.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It helps to regulate movement and emotional responses and enables people to see rewards and work towards them. (Visual pictures)
Norepinephrine (noradrenaline) is a neurotransmitter and a hormone. It assists in the body's response to stressful situations. It is also involved in increasing blood sugar levels, opening up the bronchial airways, converting bodily fats to fatty acids, controlling heart rate and blood pressure, and participates in the fight-or-flight response.
Understanding Adderall’s effect on the brain helps to understand why Adderall kills.
Common side effects of Adderall include:
- Lack of appetite
- Inability to fall asleep and stay asleep
- Dry Mouth
- Abdominal Pain and Discomfort
- Weight Loss
Hazardous or even life-threatening side effects of Adderall include:
- Dangerous increase in blood pressure
- Tachycardia or a high pulse rate
- Irregular heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Allergic reaction that includes swelling and redness in the eyes or throat
- Migraine headaches
- Syncope or losing consciousness
- Blurry or double vision
- Seizure activity and excessive and uncontrollable shaking
- Extreme nervousness and paranoid delusions
- Mood swings that include hostility and severe aggression
According to Side Effects Base, “High doses of Adderall can specifically target the heart and respiratory system, causing temporary or long-term damage. In some cases, Adderall can cause sudden death or stroke in patients, in particular those who have a heart defect or heart problem.“
Side Effects Base also reports that,
“Adderall acts a central-nervous stimulant. Adderall should be used as a temporary medication to help control symptoms and help regulate brain activity. Long-term use of Adderall as a prescription medication treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder may make symptoms worse and make withdrawal symptoms unbearable. Signs of withdrawal include severe depression or dysphoria, irritability, rage, trouble sleeping and an intense craving for the medication."
Unfortunately, since Adderall is addictive and rarely taken as a temporary medication, more and more people are witnessing the negative life-threatening side effects of Adderall.
Adderall is not unlike other stimulant drugs such as methamphetamine and cocaine. As such, ADHD patients will try to convince doctors and family members that they “need” Adderall to function.
On Aug. 27, 2010, Natural News wrote in the article “Adderall has extreme side effects, but FDA says keep taking it” that,
“The FDA conducted its own study of Adderall's effects on children and early data pointed to the fact that the drug increases the risk of sudden death in children. But neither the study nor any of the other facts about the drug's dangerous effects prompted the FDA to actually pull the drug from the market. In fact, the FDA made a point of denying the results of its own study and insisting that patients continue to take the drug.”
In 2010, NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine) wrote that,
“During the period January 1992-February 2005, 20 cases of sudden death during treatment with amphetamine products were reported: 14 in children (under age 19) and 6 in adults; 6 of the 14 children had structural cardiovascular abnormalities or other predisposing factors for sudden death.”
How is it possible that two years after the publication of the life-threatening dangers of Adderall as a prescription drug for ADHD, 24-year-old Richard Fee lost his life due to the psychological impact of Adderall and 31-year-old Danny lost his life due to the physical impact of Adderall?
And the FDA does nothing?
Adderall is now recognized as an addictive drug and there are drug abuse treatment centers for Adderall available nationwide. Rehabs.com has a feature which allows a search for an Adderall treatment center by zip code. Unfortunately, Rehabs.com does not provide any specific information but states that it will return a call within five minutes.
In San Diego, the Aton Center offers “individualized and integrated program of recovery for those seeking respite from problematic drug and alcohol abuse” including Adderall and Ritalin. Aton excepts insurance payments and offers several other forms of payment types in order to provide help.
One of Richard Fee’s physicians, Dr. Charles Parker, a psychiatrist in Virginia Beach, said that
“We have a significant travesty being done in this country with how the diagnosis [of ADHD] is being made and the meds are being administered. … I think it’s an abnegation of trust. The public needs to say this is totally unacceptable and walk out.”
Unfortunately, after years of taking Adderall, “walking out” from a drug would be as dangerous as continuing to take the drug. Since there is no help coming from the FDA, the only way to prevent Adderall from continuing to kill children and adults is to seek professional help from someone who cares.