When you think of drug rehab, cocaine, heroin, and OxyContin come to mind. But some different drugs are sending an exploding number of kids into treatment. Medications for ADD and ADHD are being passed out, sold, and abused and sadly it's leading to life–threatening addictions.
Annie was introduced to ADHD medications when she was just 13 years old by a friend with a prescription. "I really liked the effect and how they made me feel, so I sought out my own prescriptions from doctors."
By the time she was in college, she was abusing the drugs daily and she knew she needed help. "Significant weight loss, irritable moods. I started lying, being dishonest, stealing."
Dr. Timothy Wilens, director for the center of addiction medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital says an estimated five to ten percent of young people are misusing or abusing ADHD medications. "If you're just popping them willy nilly and you're using them in context with other substances, which is frequently occurring, that could be potentially dangerous."
Rehab centers say they're seeking an influx of patients addicted to the drugs. "It's huge. I have probably a hundred clients and over 80 percent of them have been addicted to Adderall since they were in grad school. It's an enormous rise from just ten years ago."
Experts blame the fact that the drugs are easy to obtain and socially acceptable. "It's just kind of the norm on college campuses, just like drinking is."
According to the experts the typical values that exist in families around the use of illicit drugs don't seem to come into play. But the DEA lists these prescription stimulants as schedule two controlled substances — the same as cocaine and OxyContin. "It's similar to misusing any kind of amphetamine or speed or cocaine. And it's going to require abstinence from that. It's going to require recovery management skills, how to fight urges, how to fight cravings."
Rehab centers also focus on the emotional problems behind the substance abuse. "It's not what you use, it's why you're using. So we focus on life skills, we focus on self esteem."
Through rehab, Annie got the help she needed. And she's about to celebrate four years of sobriety. It's really sad and lonely place to be. But there is hope and there is a solution."
Experts point out in addition to being harmful to your health and addictive, selling your ADHD prescription or even just giving it away to your friends is a felony offense. You are subject to serious penalties, including fines and jail time if convicted.
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