Tuesday, June 1, 2004
Carmel on the Case: Ritalin Abuse
There A New Twist To Teen Drug Abuse. It Inolves A Prescription Medicine That's Being Used By Kids Who Want A Competitive Edge. 7-News Carmel Cafiero Is On The Case With A Look At These So Called High Achievers.
(WSVN) -- Your child has a test and needs to study all night... Or a track meet and wants to go the distance.. and their friends say they have the perfect "pick me up."
Derek Gambale: "You feel really up. Your heart is just racing and you're full of energy."
He's not talking about speed or cocaine. But the prescription medication Ritalin, the same drug used to treat attention deficit disorder. It's now being passed around like candy at high schools.
Kids crush the pills and snort them to achieve a high and a performance boost.
Dr. Timothy Wilens: "They're doing it to help them academically."
Dr. Timothy Wilens of Mass General Hospital worries about the number of kids abusing Ritalin. His study finds one in ten children are selling their ritalin medication. One in five are abusing their own prescription.
Dr. Timothy Wilens: "It's becoming cool. Kids know that other kids are doing it and they want to try it."
Derek gambale was prescribed the drug for his A.D.D when he was twelve. He started upping his dosage to help with homework and writing songs for his band.
Derek Gambale: "I wrote some really good songs when I was on it."
But after a while, his high started making him feel pretty low.
Derek Gambale: "I couldn't go to sleep. I stayed up for three, four days and I'd keep on taking more and more. And I'd have hallucinations. I thought I was going to die."
Dr. Wilens says Derek could have died.
Dr. Timothy Wilens: "It may cause what we call arrhythmias or an abnormal beating of the heart. And that may lead to serious consequences like death."
Kids, however, think because it's legal, it must be safe.
High school students blair and stephanie don't abuse ritalin themselves, but say other kids at their school do it all the time.
Stephanie Sherman: "It's very common and it's very mainstream and it's not a big deal to anyone."
Stephanie takes it for A.D.H.D and says she's often asked if she'll sell her extra pills.
Stephanie Sherman: "People offer me $10 a pill, $5 a pill."))
Blair Stevens: "If you need money, it's one of the easiest ways to make it at our school."
Dr. Kishore of the National Library of Addictions says Ritalin abusers can be good students, making their addiction hard to spot at first.
Dr. P.S. Kishore: "Usually the family has no clue. The kid, who is the high performer all his or her life, suddenly flunks out."
After a hard withdrawal, Derek's now in recovery and he wants to warn other kids, who think recreational ritalin is "no big deal."
Derek Gambale: "Don't do it. It's not worth the risk. You might die. You might mess up your body, destroy your heart, destroy your life."
Carmel Cafiero: "Doctors say one method to curb ritalin abuse can be found in the newer, extended release tablets, which can't be crushed up and snorted... And don't give kids the same high feeling.
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