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By Jack Sinclair

These days it seems like everybody’s looking for a quick fix. Diet pills promise to help you lose weight faster without having to do any work, pain relievers are popped without thought as to their negative effects and people are prescribed anti-depressants or anti-anxiety pills in the hopes of a normal life. I don’t have anything particular against medication when needed, but I do question how often pills are used as a band-aid solution and the real problem is never dealt with.

It seems to me that it isn’t all that difficult to get the kinds of drugs. Ritalin is a really good example of a drug that is being used a lot. Often children are diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) at the first signs of intense hyperactivity or attention problem. Although there are very legitimate cases of ADHD, there are also situations where Ritalin is prescribed as a way to hopefully find a quick-fix solution. In some instances Ritalin does help and it allows children to lead more regular lives. Occasionally a child demonstrating many of the classic ADHD symptoms such as antsy behaviour, quickness to anger, hyperactivity or inability to concentrate isn’t a clear indication of ADHD. These symptoms can also be found in Autism, Bi-Polar disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a Ritalin prescription will not make the child better, only cause their real illness to go untreated.

There is a new problem with Ritalin since it has become so readily available - Ritalin now has street value. Street value means that people have found that the effects of Ritalin are comparable to cocaine and is sometimes referred to as ‘poor man’s cocaine’. The thing about Ritalin is that for kids with ADHD the effects are different, to them, Ritalin is not a stimulant, rather it allows them to concentrate. A person who doesn’t have ADHD will feel a very powerful stimulant effect.

Similar over-prescribed problems can be seen with certain anti-anxiety or anti-depression pills. It is often women who are misdiagnosed with these two prescriptions and women are twice as likely to be prescribed certain types of benzodiazepines (or tranquilizers). The main reason for this is because of the difficulty distinguishing between the natural hormonal process of the female body and a real mental sickness. The process then would go from doctor visit to misdiagnosis to prescription with the hope of feeling better, but often the root of the cause remains untreated. Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to misdiagnosis because of their developing bodies and brains. Even if a teenager is correctly diagnosed and prescribed life-altering medication, there are still risks – look at what happened to Alex. Alex discovered that there was real value to her pills and without thinking, started to sell them and share them with Zoey. Zoey’s acting crazy and it’s because she’s taking pills that are not meant for her. Just because a drug comes from a pharmacy doesn’t make it safe for just anyone. Think about it, would you take insulin if you weren’t a diabetic?

Zoey’s playing a dangerous game right now by taking pills that aren’t meant for her. It’s up to her to stop and if she doesn’t, there’s only so much a guy like me can do to help.


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