Therapy and the diagnosis of mental disorders is becoming a common part of many people’s lives, but people do not always receive proper therapy or diagnosis. The number of children who are perceived to have the developmental disorder attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is growing rapidly and most of these children are being prescribed medications as part of their treatment plans. The medications being used are mostly stimulants, many of which contain amphetamine.
The fact that amphetamine, known by its street name as speed, is given to children as medication is alarming because it is an addictive psychostimulant drug. The immediate discontinuation of this medication can cause withdrawal effects ranging from an increased appetite and excessive sleep to mental fatigue and depression, even suicidal ideation. The short-term physical effects are also problematic for the patient and include decreased appetite, headaches, twitching, and restlessness, among many others, although the long-term effects are more disturbing.
Use or medication of amphetamines over a period of time can alter brain function even once taken off the drug. Recent studies have shown that long-term use in adolescence can cause neurological imbalance and also increase risk-taking behavior, both of which can continue through adulthood. The study, published in The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, is one of the first to look at how long-term amphetamine use in adolescence affects brain chemistry and behavior.
Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, who conducted the study on rodents, says, “We focused on the key neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. We found abnormalities in brain activity associated with all three of these neurochemicals, called ‘monoamines’. Imbalances of monoamines are associated with emotional disturbances and mental diseases such as depression or addiction.”
During the study researchers also noted some behavioral changes along with some hyperactivity.
With the ease that drugs containing amphetamine are prescribed it is frightening to think of all the kids who are going to be negatively affected in the long run by treating their ADHD this way. Being one these kids myself, this is useful information, as I suffer from depression and addiction as well. It’s not that I feel the sole cause of my mood and substance abuse problems was from the ADHD treatment I received as a kid. Rather, I want to see future generations of children diagnosed ADHD to be spared the increased risk of the kind of suffering I have experienced for so long.
Filed under: Addiction, Mental Illness, Research · Tags: Addiction, ADHD, amphetamine, anxiety, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, depression, medication, mental fatigue, mental illness, pharmacology, psychostimulant, psychotropics, Speed, substance abuse, The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology