Abuse of ADD meds steadily increases

Jessica Isgro

Writer

The acronym ADD has become commonplace in our society. Count the times in your own life that you’ve jokingly reasoned away a lack of focus by saying, “I have such ADD right now.” Even more prevalent than our slang use of a legitimate psychological condition is the widespread presence of the disorder. ADD and ADHD have become somewhat of an epidemic in our nation, and the number of children and adults being treated for their symptoms is steadily increasing. But why has it become so prevalent? Are teens and adults really more susceptible to this condition today?

I don’t think so. I think doctors, parents and teachers have become more observant. Diagnosing ADD and ADHD proves a tricky situation; it’s not detectable through a blood test or any other obvious means. For this reason, diagnosing such cases is not black and white. The diagnosis instead involves observation on the parts of the adults in a child’s life to assess if he or she suffers from ADD or ADHD.

Regardless of the reason for the heightened rate of ADD and ADHD diagnoses, one fact is indisputable: the amount of abuse resulting from the related medications, most commonly Adderall and Ritalin, is steadily on the rise. According to a study published in “Pediatrics”, the abuse of ADD and ADHD drugs increased 76 percent from 1998 to 2005. The prevalence of these disorders in our society provides easy access to their medications; abusers will often ask a friend to spare a few pills or sell them altogether. Some abusers see ADD medications as a safer alternative to harder drugs; they are considered easier to obtain while still supplying the abuser with a high.

The interesting thing about Adderall and Ritalin abuse is that even though cases of ADD and ADHD drug abuse continues to increase, there has been a recent shortage of ADD and ADHD medication. Both the original and generic forms have been scarce and those who legitimately need the medication are having issues finding it. It makes you wonder to what lengths addicts are willing to go in order to find this now-elusive medication. And worse, those using Adderall and Ritalin for non-medicinal purposes are diminishing precious, in-demand medicine that would better serve those with legitimate needs.

What should be done about this problem? Perhaps stricter monitoring of the medication would deter persons who actually need the medication from giving a few pills to their friends, especially if they know that they might not be able to refill their prescription easily the next time around. If abusers truly want these drugs, I feel they will find a way to acquire them. Regardless of the reason, whether they desire the weight loss resulting from Ritalin, they seek the effects of a stimulant or are attempting to increase their focus, serious drug abusers will not merely bow to stronger regulations.

This issue is underemphasized. Our society lacks widespread understanding of the paradox of ADD medication being too accessible to addicts, yet too elusive to ADD and ADHD patients. To use a clichéd but apropos metaphor, one bad apple spoils the bunch. The way I see it, those who abuse Ritalin, Adderall and other medications tarnish the existence of both ADD and ADHD. For this reason, not everyone sees the shortage of ADD and ADHD medication as a problem. Unfortunately, the only ones who suffer in this situation are the ones with legitimate conditions. If an easy solution to this problem existed, it would already be fixed. For now, the most we can do is form a divide in our minds between those who need these medications and those who choose to take them.

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