SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

February 12, 2013

ADHD Med Addiction

                    Who are LAWS really protecting?                     

(My comment to follow)

Your health

Parents lose son in stream of ADHD drugs

By Alan Schwarz THE NEW YORK TIMES

MATTHEW EICH THE NEW YORK TIMES    Rick and Kathy Fee of Virginia Beach, Va., say they fought to get their son off drugs intended for people with ADHD. But the 24-year-old college graduate committed suicide.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Every morning on her way to work, Kathy Fee holds her breath as she drives past the brick building that houses Dominion Psychiatric Associates.

  • It was there that her son, Richard, visited a doctor and received prescriptions for Adderall, an amphetamine-based medication for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

It was in the parking lot that she insisted to Richard that he did not have ADHD, not as a child and not now as a 24-yearold college graduate, and that he was getting dangerously addicted to the medication.

It was inside the building that her husband, Rick, implored Richard’s doctor to stop prescribing him Adderall, warning, “You’re going to kill him.”

  • It was where, after becoming violently delusional and spending a week in a psychiatric hospital in 2011, Richard met with his doctor and received prescriptions for 90 more days of Adderall. He hanged himself in his bedroom closet two weeks after they expired.
  • The story of Richard Fee, an athletic, personable college class president and aspiring medical student, highlights widespread failings in the system through which 5 million Americans take medication for ADHD, doctors and other experts said.

Medications such as Adderall can markedly improve the lives of children and others with the disorder. But the tunnel-like focus the medicines provide has led growing numbers of young adults to fake symptoms to obtain prescriptions for highly addictive medications that carry serious psychological dangers. These efforts are facilitated by doctors who skip established diagnostic procedures, renew prescriptions reflexively and spend too little time with patients to detect side effects.

COURTESY OF THE FEE FAMILY    Richard Fee likely lied or exaggerated to get prescriptions.

  • Richard Fee’s experience included it all. Conversations with friends and family members and a review of medical records depict an intelligent and articulate young man lying to doctor after doctor, physicians issuing hasty diagnoses and psychiatrists continuing to prescribe medication — even increasing dosages — despite evidence of his growing addiction and psychiatric breakdown.

Very few people who misuse stimulants devolve into psychotic or suicidal addicts. But even one of Richard’s own physicians, Dr. Charles Parker, characterized his case as a virtual textbook for ways ADHD practices can fail, particularly for young adults.

“We have a significant travesty being done in this country with how the diagnosis is being made and the meds are being administered,” said Parker, a psychiatrist in Virginia Beach. “I think it’s an abnegation of trust. The public needs to say this is totally unacceptable and walk out.”

Young adults are by far the fastest-growing segment of people taking ADHD medications. Nearly 14 million monthly prescriptions for the condition were written for Americans ages 20 to 39 in 2011. That’s 2 1/2 times the 5.6 million of just four years before, according to the data company IMS Health. While this rise is generally attributed to the aging of adolescents who have ADHD into young adults — plus a greater recognition of adult ADHD in general — many experts caution that savvy college graduates, freed of parental oversight, can legally and easily obtain stimulant prescriptions from obliging doctors.

Richard began acting strangely soon after moving back home in late 2009, his parents said. He stayed up for days at a time, went from gregarious to grumpy and back, and scrawled compulsively in notebooks. His father learned that he was taking Vyvanse for ADHD.

Richard explained to him that he had been having trouble concentrating while studying for medical-school entrance exams the previous year and that he had seen a doctor and received a diagnosis. His father was surprised. Richard had never shown ADHD symptoms from nursery school through high school, when he was awarded a full academic scholarship to Greensboro College in North Carolina. Rick Fee also expressed concerns about the safety of his son taking daily amphetamines for a condition he might not have.

  • “The doctor wouldn’t give me anything that’s bad for me,” Rick Fee recalled his son saying that day. “I’m not buying it on the street corner.”

Richard’s first experience with ADHD pills, like so many others’, had come in college. Friends said he was a typical undergraduate user: When he needed to finish a paper or cram for exams, one Adderall capsule would jolt him with focus and purpose for six to eight hours, repeat as necessary.

So many fellow students had pills to share, friends of Richard’s recall, that guessing where he got his was futile. He was popular enough on campus — he was sophomore class president and played first base on the baseball team — that they doubted he even had to pay the typical $5 or $10 per pill.

  • “He would just procrastinate, wait till the last minute, and then take a pill to study for tests,” said Ryan Sykes, a friend. “It got to the point where he’d say he couldn’t get anything done if he didn’t have the Adder-all.”

Studies have estimated that 8 to 35 percent of college students take stimulant pills to enhance school performance. Few students realize that giving or accepting even one Adderall pill from a friend with a prescription is a federal crime.

“It’s incredibly nonchalant,” Chris Hewitt, a friend of Richard’s, said of student attitudes. “It’s: ‘Anyone have any Adderall? I want to study tonight,’” said Hewitt, now an elementary-school teacher in Greensboro.

According to his parents, Richard had no psychiatric history through college. None of a dozen high-school and college acquaintances said he ever showed or mentioned behaviors related to ADHD, suggesting he faked or at least exaggerated symptoms to get his diagnosis.

That is neither uncommon nor difficult, said David Berry, a professor and researcher at the University of Kentucky. He is a co-author of a 2010 study that compared two groups of college students — those with diagnoses of ADHD and others who were asked to fake symptoms — to see whether standard symptom questionnaires could tell them apart. They were indistinguishable.

“With college students,” Berry said in an interview, “it’s clear that it doesn’t take much information for someone who wants to feign ADHD to do so.”

(My comment:  

Even if I weren’t  about to face my youngest granddaughter going off to college in another state shortly,  living away from her nest and all  this can imply,  this article is very distressing.    Like the gorgeous young man above,  my girl too, is quite a looker; sch0larship involved,  bright as any star in the heavens,  popular, well-liked and sports  ability is carrying her (partially).  One  can stress realizing that not only has “parental control” lost it’s thrust and relevance – – but it seems that it has become almost a non-issue in modern America.  

My granddaughter, like Richard Fee above, does NOT have ADHD nor has she ever been short on mental acumen or her remarkable ability to focus and do.  But it appears that this is not really the problem is it?    It may have more to do with the entire social construct at campus;  studies,  sports,  practice,  increased study and work-load and of course, the need to keep those grades up where they MUST  be.  And the friends.  To many of these super – duper kids  friends are more than a little important.    It is easy to see how easy it can be to take a pill from a friend when you have to cram into the wee hours for tomorrow’s test.   When the time hasn’t been organized well enough. . . sure, easy enough – pop a pill!  Everybody’s doing it.

So in all this busy-ness and excitement, who is overseeing the safety and well-being of our precious “future leaders”?  Clearly these young adults have no idea how damaging these behaviors can be, or they wouldn’t be doing it.  I’ll even grant that some of these doctors who prescribe to our offspring may not realize the full potential of what they are doing.  But if they don’t – – THEY SHOULD!  If not them – then who?  Should these people even be allowed to possess a medical degree if they ignorantly prescribe drugs which can so alter and change another that he/she winds up addicted or dead?    How is this different from the docs who run the so-called “Pill-mills”?    We remove their licenses and run them out-of-town. 

The parents in the story above had no impact in trying to intercede.  That is pathetic.  This is one area in which people MUST SPEAK-UP and demand  change.  This is the worst possible kind of scandal.  And if this does not rest at the feet of the “Medical Establishment”.  .  .  .  pray tell, what does?               Jan)

  

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: