“I am not a big fan of controlled substances that come in forms that can be easily abused – and certainly, a chewable drug falls into that category.”
~ Dr. Mukund Gnanadesikan, a child/adolescent psychiatrist in Napa, California
Right now, the Internet is on fire with news that the Food and Drug Administration has approved “meth candy” is a medication for young children. While that isn’t exactly true, the what is actually going on is a bit disconcerting, nonetheless.
What You Need to Know About This New ADHD Drug
In January of this year, Dallas-based Neotherapeutics was granted approval by the FDA for Adzenys XR-ODT, a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant intended to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children six years old and up.
Adzenys XR-ODT is a fast-dissolve amphetamine tablet that provides extended-release of the medication, and comes in six different strengths, allowing the dosage to be tailored to the individual patient. Because of the age of the patient demographics, Adzenys XR-ODT tablets will be orange-flavored.
Biochemically, the drug is said to be equivalent to the more-familiar medication Adderall XR.
About 1 in 10 American children – 2.4 million – have been diagnosed with ADHD, and approximately 75% of them are on medication, so there is a real need for a convenient way to give them their prescribed medicine. On the surface, Adzenys-XR-ODT seems like a good idea.
Legitimate Concerns as the Drug Hits the Market
So what, EXACTLY, is the problem? Why the uproar?
- The first concern is the over-medication of young children. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised parents of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD to attempt behavioral therapy before resorting to medication, many parents-and many doctors – opt for drugs as a first-line intervention.
How BIG of a concern is this?
The market for ADHD medication is exploding – in 2006 sales were at $4.6 billion. Last year alone, sales almost tripled to $12.7 billion. By 2020, the market is expected to rise to $17.5 billion.
- The second concern is the fact that the medication is tasty and comes in a convenient package – blister packs instead of pill bottles. Not only does this raise the risk of younger children gaining access to a powerful medication that tastes akin to candy, but in teens and adults, this convenience could be a gateway into abuse.
Adult psychiatrist Dr. Alexander Papp of the University of California, San Diego, blasts the drug’s approval of “an orally-disintegrating amphetamine for kids by the morally-disintegrating FDA. What’s next? Gummy bears?”
Other ADHD stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin are popular “party” drugs because of the euphoric “high” they can produce. They are also commonly used by students who say that drugs enhance their academic performance by improving their focus when they study.
Dr. Carl Hart, a Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University, says “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…”
How Big of a Problem Is the Abuse of ADHD Medication in America?
According to Dr. Hart, the recreational use of other ADHD medications has increased by 67% among adults. Other worrisome statistics about the abuse of ADHD stimulant medications include:
- According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, roughly 4% of college students 18-22 have used an ADHD medication recreationally.
- Almost 90% of college students who abuse ADHD medications also engage in binge drinking.
- ADHD abusers are three times as likely to use marijuana as those who use the medication recreationally.
- They are eight times as likely to use prescription benzodiazepines recreationally.
The bottom line is this – ADHD is a real medical condition suffered by millions of children in America, and appropriately-prescribed medication can provide much-needed relief.
However, stimulant ADHD medications such as Adderall, Ritalin, and now Adzenys XR-ODT are classified as controlled substances because they have a high potential for dependence and abuse. With that in mind, any changes that make the drug easier to take and more attractive to potential misusers may just turn out to be a mistake.
Candy? Not quite.
Meth? Too close for comfort.
Reason to worry? DEFINITELY.
If you live in the Boise, Idaho, area and you or someone you care about is misusing ADHD stimulants or any other drug, contact Ashwood Recovery today to get the help and support you need.
Ashwood is the premier outpatient drug and alcohol counseling center in the area, providing services for not only substance abuse disorders such as alcoholism or drug addiction, but also offering help with trauma recovery, codependency, and any other co-occurring disorders.