Popular culture enjoys mocking images of the meth-infested armpit of America, poking fun at these trailer park serpents and their speed freak existence, without ever once considering that a common prescription medication designed to combat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)—one that has become a feel good favorite among the academic world—is essentially the same high-powered substance as the zombie dust of the Midwest.
Although prescription drugs like Adderall and Ritalin come packaged in little brown bottles and are backed by the illusionary safety endorsement of a licensed physician, these stimulant medications can be dangerous if abused with the right amount of fiendish enthusiasm. In fact, a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry indicates that an increasing number of young adults have been checking into emergency rooms over the past few years due to accidental overdoses on this socially accepted speed.
In their analysis of data provided by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, researchers discovered that the recreational use of Adderall and its generic varieties increased in adults by about 67 percent between 2006 and 2011. What’s more is this medication is being abused with such a blasé attitude and lack of respect for its potential health ramifications that it is causing more people to be admitted into the hospital with each passing year. The report shows that emergency room visits for symptoms of an Adderall overdose went from 862 in 2006 to nearly 1,500 in 2011.
But society has bought into the commercial swill and has become convinced that popping Oxycontin is somehow better than shooting heroin and that swallowing handfuls of Adderall is not the same as smoking meth off a piece of aluminum foil. Yet, Dr. Carl Hart, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, says the only difference between methamphetamine and Adderall is perception.
“The public remains almost entirely ignorant of the fact that methamphetamine produces nearly identical effects to those produced by the popular ADHD medication d-amphetamine (dextroamphetamine). You probably know it as Adderall: a combination of amphetamine and d-amphetamine mixed salts,” Hart wrote in a piece for the Influence.
Of course, while anti-drug advocates force feed the nation frightening images of the great American meth head, complete with the warning that even a single use has the power to transform a person into the walking dead, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to approve this drug in pill form for sale on the retail market. For decades, doctors have been prescribing legal meth to young children as a treatment for ADHD, setting these youngsters up to enter into their adult years with major health issues that could put them in a early grave.
In 2014, HIGH TIMES published an article called “The American Tweaker: Legal Speed on the Rise,” which, using data from the Drug Enforcement Administration, found that Adderall was being prescribed at a rate of 30 times more within the past few years than it was two decades ago. Our analysis revealed that so many of these go-go drugs are being manufactured that there is now enough legal speed out there to keep every American citizen awake for a solid month.
Interestingly, while the federal government scratches the spine of Big Pharma in an effort to distribute more versions of Adderall, health officials do not appear to be too concerned with the dangers associated with its use. Although some of the side effects are minor, Adderall, as with methamphetamine, could cause a person to suffer a complete psychiatric collapse or even sudden death by heart attack.
Although federal law prevents extensive research in this department, there is some evidence that suggests marijuana could be effective in treating this disorder. Some studies have shown that cannabis has the ability to fix the dopamine shortages that occur in people with ADHD and improve concentration and impulsivity without the negative side effects of drugs like Adderall.
(Photo Courtesy of Daily Nexus)