Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Giving Kids Meth, Update.

My first blog article entitled Giving Kids Meth was about to potential consequences of giving ADHD medication. I talked about how Desoxyn which is a prescription form of methamphetamine is prescribed as a second line treatment to people with ADHD.  Due to some feedback from some of my readers, I'd like to clarify a couple points.

First off, Desoxyn or any amphetamine derivative can be very helpful to people and children with ADHD. It does do the job of fixing the problem, this I can't argue. Without the societal beliefs that come along with methamphetamine and ampetamine (Desoxyn and Adderall respectively) since they are abused drugs, I would even consider being a proponent of these drugs. There are a couple facts that still bother me about their administration:

  • This class of stimulant drugs increases dopamine in the mesolimbic path of the brain. In other words, this class of drugs causes a portion of the brain to fire that has been associated with addiction. There is an overwhelming body of literature substantiating that these substances are addictive
  • The fact is that America is having a huge problem with methamphetamine, it destroys many people's lives and can cause horrific health problems. Using Desoxyn may be an affective treatment, however it provides an avenue for further drug abuse and pervasion of the idea that methamphetamine is something that is ok to abuse.
  • Methamphetamine (Desoxyn) titrated properly will have the same exact effect as Adderall. As I said these compounds only differ by one carbon atom, i.e. a methyl group. Sure, this is enough to change the action of a certain drug remarkably, and in the case of adding a methyl group to amphetamine to make it methamphetamine, you increase its potency not by adjusting its basic mechanism, but by allowing it to go into to the brain and affecting it much more easily. However if you give behaviorally equivalent doses of these two compounds, they will have the same effect. Regardless, the societal and addictive consequences of these drugs are harmful.

My proposition is that many of these kids who are being given Adderall or Desoxyn should at least be given Ritalin instead. As I mentioned before, I'd prefer to let these kids wait until they are adults before prescribing any psychoactive compound because even Ritalin (methylphenidate) can cause changes to the developing brain (the second article above mentions this). However, Ritalin does not activate the mesolimbic pathway to the same extent ie it does not have nearly the same addiction profile that amphetamines have. So at least kids aren't experiencing drug-reward related stimuli with Ritalin. Additionally, Ritalin does have negative societal beliefs attached to it, however they are very much separate from the drug abuse stigmas attached to amphetamine and methamphetamine use.

Since my original post on this subject, Israel has legalized the use of Ritalin as an over-the-counter drug. OTC is not covered by insurance unless coupled with a prescription. I find this to be a very interesting piece of legislation. This raises the question of whether people who don't have ADHD should be allowed to use this drug to enhance their basal state of concentration to gain an advantage over others. I personally think that this will contribute to the trend of giving children stimulants which as I explained above I am fundamentally against. Should adults who have reasonably developed brains be allowed to gain this advantage? I think this is a philosophical question best left to the reader and if you're interested in reading more about this type of question than you should look into the idea of cosmetic pharmacology first introduced in the book Listening to Prozac.


  1. I am a sufferer of the massively damaging effects that overdosages of these medications can cause at a young age. With stunted growth, degrading health, and an unfair life that I shouldn't have to lead, I am a shining example of what it means to be destroyed by these medications. Dexedrine, was my poison, and I'm sure a class of children around the country are falling victim to the same ploys I did. Gst help, and survive, that's all I can do now.

  2. You are relating street made, high potencity, low purity, smokable crystal meyhamphetamine to prescription Desoxyn. First off its extremely rarely prescribed for Adhd. Secondly, street meth is so horrible because its made from household chemicals such as draino, etc, and this ends up in the final product, I.e. it is not pure. Its also smoked in extremely high dosages. The prescription form 99.9% pure, not made from dangerous household chemicals, obviously not ment to be smoked, and in EXTREMELY small dosages compared to the street version. You can't compare the two.

    1. Point well taken, but I can say that regardless of purity and quality, it still exists as a substance that can be abused and a gateway for addictive behavior. Further, if you care to look up the statistic people who are prescribed psychogenic drugs are much more likely to abuse drugs in the future.