Therapy and the diagnosis of mental disorders is becoming a common part of people’s lives, but people do not always receive proper therapy or diagnosis. The amount of children who are perceived to have the developmental disorder attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder is becoming higher and more and more children are being treated for it. The treatment usually consists of the use of stimulant medication, many of which contain amphetamine.
The fact that amphetamine or known by its street name as ‘speed’ is giving 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 depressioneven suicidal ideation. The short term physical effects are also problematic for the patient including decreased appetite, headaches, twitching and restlessness among many others, although the long term are more disturbing.
Use of medication or amphetamines over a period of time can alter brain function even when taken off the drug. Recent studies have shown that long term use in adolescence can cause neurological imbalance and also increase risk-taking behavior 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.
It is frightening to think of all the kids who are going to be negatively affected in the long run by treating their ADHD with drugs containing amphetamines. Being one these kids myself it is interesting information as I too suffer from depression and addiction, however I do not feel these were completely caused from the ADHD treatment I received as a kid.