An anonymous student wrote a journal about their recreational usage of Ritalin. They paint an ugly picture about how it started just for fun a friend had a prescription and they tried it. Next thing they knew the drug overpowered them. It became a weekend thing or a way to study for the big final into an obsession, like they were on some sort of all-star team. “It is readable accessible” the diary states “any student on campus knew of some way to get it.” This is a story often told for example, The American psychology association did a blind study resulting in the unbelievable statistics that 1 in 5 college students are prescribed Ritalin and show that 3 of 10 of those students misuse their prescription and illegally share with friends. The harder the focus on the use of Ritalin: by analyzing its biological, cognitive, social and physical effects in the treatment of increasing concentration, emerges undeniable claim that Prescription drugs such as Ritalin is on the rise for college students, this can cause negative effects such as addiction, tolerance, physical dependence, and even death; thus, anyone taking these medications or has a loved one taking these should be aware of effects and how addicting they can become.
Ritalin also known as (methylphenidate) a medication closely related to cocaine is the most prescribed drug to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This substance has a very high addiction rate. This drug is easily available and if not used properly can lead to adverse reactions like high blood pressure, a fib, stroke, and even death. Use of this drug has escalated at an alarming rate. For example the need has gone from 1300 mg in the 80’s and currently the demand is at 20000 mg with pharmacies dealing with shortage because production rate cannot meet the demand.
Doctors defend the alarming increase with diagnosis is that more adults are juggling more things than a decade ago. That adult were not properly diagnosed and treated for depression, and science now has proven that children do not just grow out of it. Doctors also claim another reason for rising Ritalin prescriptions that parents are often diagnosed after their children are brought in for attention concerns. Many argue that Ritalin is needed for certain students to excel in their field of choice, without it they would not graduate. Where do Doctors draw the line? How can they be sure that the ADHD diagnosis is what the student needs? Most physicians spend a half an hour with their patient and have to believe their patient is being honest with their symptoms; there is no test that proves without a reason of a doubt that ADHD is the cause. This hinders the doctor’s ability to make the proper call on who needs medication and who is abusing Ritalin.
“There is a commonly overlooked issue determining the “true” prevalence of ADHD: the absence of the gold standard. That is, we lack the microbiological, pathological and physiological measures that are associated with medical illness and that permit us to accurately ascertain the sensitivity and specific diagnosis methods.” wender
Ritalin works by intensifying extracellular dopamine levels in the brain, giving a sensation of a “high” which make the task at hand more exciting, consequently; increasing the motivation to concentrate on completing the job. Also, the medication will reduce the firing of background neurons which are not needed to complete the task at hand, allowing the brain to convey a flawless signal with little interference. Ritalin triggers the frontal lobe especially those that create dopamine for neurological functions. Dopamine assists in behavior control, filters out distractions, and helps make decisions based on reason not emotions. For someone properly diagnosed this medication will actually slow them down.
The recreational user feels as if they need the drug for energy to perform a task. Student are using it for a study buddy it keeps them up all night to cram for the exam and gives them an advantage over other students. Some take the pill orally while others ground it up and snort it like cocaine giving them a sense of euphoria. Extreme cases some are dissolving it liquid to inject in their arms like heroin. This is alarming due to the fact that it is easily addictive and students can easily overdose.
Advocates claim that even though there are many unwanted side effects and social problems Ritalin is vital to the treatment of this behavioral disability. Through many drug trials and studies Ritalin has proven to provide adequate treatment and sustaining the level of concentration the patient needs. Some specialists, whom don’t agree with using Ritalin without prescription, see the increase of Ritalin as a pronounced revolution that has brought about a change on the perspective society holds about learning disabilities. Therefore, resulting in more children and adults receiving the proper treatment that they need that wouldn’t be acceptable treatment 10 years ago.
On the other hand, properly diagnosing students with legitimate ADHD, and drug seekers is a guessing game (ny times) Proper monitoring is crucial to defining abusers and non-abusers. Doctors should spend more time with their patients with ADHD also need to track the refill frequency, if it is often early this is a sign that the patient has become addicted or is selling their prescriptions. Parents also should be on alert, looking for signs of addiction that include: irritability, withdrawing from loved ones, not sleeping, and very anxious. The DEA warns that using the drugs without being medically necessary can lead to dangerous and often Permanente adverse reactions.
Ritalin is the 4th most abused drug in America according to the DEA. Ritalin is being prescribed to almost anyone. Attention disorders can easily be faked making it easy for students to get prescriptions.. Street name on campus is R-ball, vitamin K, or smart drug. Drug enforcement agency is aware of this epidemic and mad it a control 2 substance meaning that the prescription must be printed with a doctor’s signature, no stamp or printed. The prescriptions cannot have refills, must be filled within a week of being printed. Also 80 percent of meds must be gone according to dosage schedule before it can be refilled. Patient must also have a photo id when filling prescription. With all of these protective measures Ritalin abuse is still quickly rising.
Ritalin and cocaine are almost chemically the same, attacking the frontal cortex and dopamine levels creating a rush or mental awakening this neurotransmitter is the main antagonist that is involved in the addict’s euphoria, in return making Ritalin highly addictive. Many years ago cocaine was a legal drug you could purchase at the local pharmacy. After studying the effects of the drug it was decided that the drug was not safe and was taken off the market due to the Harrison anti-narcotic act of 1914. History tends to repeat itself; does the end really justify the means? Ritalin when used properly for medical impairment is less addictive, but high seekers get high just like cocaine. Some common side effects are euphoria, high sexual tendencies, and emotional vacancy with hyperactive mood swings. The addict also builds a tolerance therefore needing more of the drug to reach the high. Addicts also are chasing the high the once had but the tolerance decreases it resulting in a never ending game of cat and mouse usually resulting in a downward spiral for the user. Many addicts believe they can control the addiction; this is justified by a psychological need for the drug. Science proves that the body natural defense to build a tolerance will undeniably put the drug in control of the user. Many studies have been done and after analyzing they all bring forth the same result, the majority of patients taking Ritalin is doing so to keep up with the world that is leaving them behind. The wonder drug kicks in quickly and gives them that much needed boost needed for their busy lifestyle.
Ritalin is helping the patient now, but scientists are starting to catch up with what the chemicals are doing to the internal body. Patients taking the drug as prescribed show no major effects in long term life, studies have not linked Ritalin with any long term consequences except depression. Many theories are currently being studied for example the loss of dopamine receptor function due to long term hyperactivity resulting in lowered energy levels, sleep disturbances, Parkinson like symptoms, trouble focusing, and inability to properly store information. Abusers are taking higher doses can have tremors, dementia, impaired cognition, heart disease, and certain cancers like throat carcinomas because of the cell adaption that occurs from snorting.
Although these theories are just beginning to be tested they seem very promising and need more data to be conclusive.
While scientific findings are still inconclusive, the World Wide Web has many forums where many people affected by the use of Ritalin can tell their stories. Families warn of the dangers of overdose telling stories about death of their loved ones. One story speaks of a young aspiring athlete going into sudden cardiac arrest while playing basketball, He was only 15. A women writes about her hallucinations and actually killing her husband under the influence of Ritalin because she thought he was an intruder. A college student posts about how at the age of 22 he had a stroke and lost his eye sight. Some blogs are posting how to crush and snort Ritalin, preaching that it is safe and more effective than cocaine because it lasts longer. One sight was for recovering Ritalin addicts, discussions, feedback, treatment options, and support. The misuse of Ritalin is defiantly taking its toll on America. Last year alone there were ninety cases of death caused by Ritalin.
Other means should be done before Ritalin is prescribed. Simple changes like proper sleep, diet, exercise, change in the way students study. There are also over the counter supplements that are proven to help with focusing and energy levels that are not addicting. If all other treatments have failed; Ritalin is prescribed, the families and patients should be aware of the harmful effects and the highly addictiveness of this drug. The Doctors should work closely with the patients to maintain the proper treatment. Ritalin like Tylenol can only help lessen the symptoms of the disease, there is no cure, at tis time long term use of Ritalin is the only answer. This drug is very harmful and an educated decision must be made before using prescription therapy.
Even with the seriousness of the side effects, students ignore them. Many believe that they are safe because they are prescriptions, made within an FDA standard facility, rather than being made illegally. Comparing them to steroids used for athletic enhancement, Ritalin is a study enhancement giving them the extra ump needed to succeed. They also have many friends and family that use the drug so it seems reasonable to be using it, except the control over the drug spirals away quickly without the student even recognizing what is going on, until it’s too late.
Ritalin is addictive, tolerances are built, withdrawal symptoms when quitting cold turkey is a dangerous game. Most cases the abuser is depression, extreme fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, irritability, and cravings for more Ritalin. It has been reported but is rare that the abuser will have psychotic episodes, delirious, and become suicidal. Abusers are urged to seek medical help while detoxifying. Medical intervention will taper dosage until it is safe to stop. Also other pills are given to regulate emotional withdrawals like sleeping pills, anxiety medications, and blood pressure meds.
Most addicts are abusing Ritalin to suppress other issues in their life. Self-medicating, rather than admitting their other problems including low self-worth, social anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar, and workaholics. The addicts will be less likely to relapse if they will find counseling that is appropriate for their situation.
At this point there is not a doubt that this is a problem among college campuses worldwide. There is alcohol and drug programs available for students, the major issue is letting the student recognize that there is a problem using prescription meds not being prescribed by a doctor, its illegal for starters. The fight with someone who is already addicted is an uphill climb. Many family members’ especially guardians do not grasp the concept that Ritalin is a highly addictive, dangerous treatment. If the student truly has ADHD this is a miracle drug, on the other hand if it isn’t ADHD and diagnosis was incorrect it will destroy the student putting burdens that will last a long time. It is critical that guardians become educated on pros and cons of stimulants, and proceed with caution. Medical experts are admitting that even though some stimulate drugs are helping students achieve their goals. Unfortunately evidence points to more students are using for a high rather than a treatment. Ritalin is a multi-million industry allowing the highly prescribed harmful substance to be abused and illegally sold among college campuses. Experts do agree that ADHD is a real illness and is difficult to properly diagnosis. Ritalin also is a quick resolution to a lifetime problem increasing the profits of the money hungry pharmaceutical industry.
Ritalin has been a hot debatable topic for the past decade, exhibits numerous, deeply rooted connections to college life. A problem that is deeply rooted in modern America cannot be easily solved or simplified. According to Gene Haislip, the deputy assistant administrator at drug enforcement administration, Ritalin can be used legitimately by many, are outweighed by addicts. To be able to make the numbers equal by dropping abuse of Ritalin America needs to admit there is an epidemic among college students. America should protest against the pharmaceutical industry, more funding allowed for clinical trials, ADHD patients should only see specialists that can spend time with their patients, and monitor their activities, media needs to get involved and report an accurate story of Ritalin, DEA needs to be more aggressive towards early refills, and illegal sales, mostly proper education so that the patient can make an informed decision to protect themselves from destroying their future.
After investigating and compiling statistics and data there is no doubt that Ritalin is a harmful substance that is being abused by college students. The actual mental illness is extremely difficult to properly diagnosis yet Ritalin is the highest prescribed medicine in America. Undeniably ADHD is a legitimate illness and Ritalin can be life changing for that student, more often than not Ritalin is abused. There is not a single solution to this modern crisis. Society needs to be aware and educated on Ritalin, taking a stand against abuse, and supporting the addict in rehabilitation.
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Above is a statement by:
Mr. Gene R. Haislip, Deputy Assistant Administrator
Office of Diversion Control
Drug Enforcement Administration
United States Department of Justice
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