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Can We Get an “A” with that Prescription?

We live in an age where steroids, human growth hormone, and other physical performance-enhancing drugs are used, abused, and concealed. All the records are being shattered in ways no one could have foreseen even half a century ago. Eventually someone figures out how the method, some test is created that breaks through all the smoke and mirrors and all that remains is disgrace.

But that is usually in the so-called adult world where “knowing better” and being raised better and knowing wrong from right and choosing for the good is assumed. But what happens when children, for whom parents want only the best opportunities and brightest future, begin to use “mental performance-enhancing” or attention-boosting drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall. They or their parents are simply looking for the mental edge to achieve more on a test, focus longer to finish a project. They are not looking to be placed in a Record Book. But to achieve scholastic goals, get into the best universities.

Toward that end and what has been viewed as indicative of scholastic doping is the over-prescription or falsely based prescription of drugs used to treat ADHD and other neurological problems. Dr. William Graf, Yale professor of pediatric neurology and one of the authors of a paper on the inappropriateness of healthy children using ADHD drugs, says it “is ill-advised, particularly for young people whose brains are still developing. Doctors are supposed to be promoting wellness, which doesn't include pumping kids full of drugs who don't need them.” These drugs are classified as controlled substances by the FDA for their known tendency to abuse or becoming dependent on them. High blood pressure, insomnia and nervousness may also arise.

The results from the research have shown that the increased finding of ADHD has led to a 21.8 percent increase of stimulant and psychotropic drug prescriptions in the past 20 years. Now some of that is legitimate as diagnostic techniques have improved and do find actual cases of ADHD. But that is not the whole story. Data from a study in 2008 entitled “Monitoring the Future” (funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) found of the students interviewed about 1.6 percent of eighth-graders, 2.9 percent of tenth-graders and 3.4percent of twelfth-graders had used Ritalin.

When good things, designed to help those with genuine problems, are misused it hurts everyone. Those who seek to do right without attention boosters and performance enhancers become cynical and despair. Those who use them become dependent and may need treatment for the abuse of the drugs or medical problems that arise. Training, determination, perseverance is the path to success or at least the knowledge YOU did your best!


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