View Full Version : meds and addiction-is there reason to be concerned?

11-05-07, 07:26 AM
Hi. I'm very new to this. My 9 year old son has just been diagnosed with add inattentive and it appears that his condition in the classroom will begin to cause him some serious problems. Up until now he has been a bright kid but now he's beginning to experience frustration and failures in the classroom. I'm in two minds about medication. I want what is right and safe for him. I have experienced very extreme opinions when I mention medication to friends and family. Those who oppose the idea say that add meds are 'speed' and are 'highly addictive'-possibly leading to drug abuse later in life. The literature I read suggests that kids that go untreated end up self medicating anyway. The latter makes more sense to me while the former smacks of hysteria. Still, it is something I would like to understand. Can anybody point me in the direction of any current reaserch being done on this question? I would be happy to read about any studies-whether they have pro or anti med outcome slants-it doesn't matter. I really need to be pointed to the broad range of current research so that I can be better informed in order to make a choice for my little boy. Thanks very much for your help:)

12-14-07, 02:32 AM
I have experienced very extreme opinions when I mention medication to friends and family. Those who oppose the idea say that add meds are 'speed' and are 'highly addictive'-possibly leading to drug abuse later in life. The literature I read suggests that kids that go untreated end up self medicating anyway.Emphasis mine above.

I think it's important in your role of advocate for your son to keep in mind that opinions of even the most well-meaning friends and relatives are just that -- their opinions. While we all have the obligation to let others be entitled to their opinins, we are not obliged to agree with them. :)

Here are some possible responses to the common lay opinions about ADHD:

Mis-informed allegation: ADD meds are just "speed".
Reality check: Some ADD meds are stimulants, including pharmaceutical-grade amphetamine compounds.

Mis-informed allegation: "Speed" is highly addictive.
Reality check: "Speed" is the street name for a class of drug that is ill-begotten with intent to be abused. So yes, when abused, speed can be highly addictive. Of course, many legal and more-easily obtained substances can be addictive, such as alcohol, tobacco and food.

When properly manufactured and prescribed by a physician in therapeutic doses, amphetamine-based drugs are highly effective in treating many patients for the symptoms of ADD.

Mis-informed allegation: Treating children for ADHD with "speed" is wrong/bad/irresponsible.
Reality check: Not treating a child's ADHD with medication, when indicated by a proper diagnosis, is wrong/bad/irresponsible.

Mis-informed allegation: Treating children for ADHD with "highly addictive" drugs will lead to drug abuse later in life.
Reality check: Untreated ADHD leaves children susceptible to co-morbid complications that crop later in life beginning in adolescence to well into adulthood. These problems include low sense of self-worth and ability to cope with frustration, depression, anxiety, anger and frustration, substance abuse, anger management and criminal behavior. It's better to medicate now with small and therapeutically-effective doses of drugs that work, than putting a child at risk for self-medicating behaviors later.

12-14-07, 04:26 PM
Not sure if you're still checking this thread, but just wanted to add my 3 and a half cents:

I'm recently diagnosed ADD. The difference that Adderall *now dexedrine* made in my life is so astounding, my husband and mother are still amazed. Literally turned my life around 180.

My son, who is 7, is showing signs of also having ADHD. I have absolutely no issues with medicating him, if that proves to be the best course of action for him. My doctor made the comment to me that there are lots of people with ADD who are indeed self medicating with drugs, alcohol, desctructive behavior, adrenaline rush behavior, etc.

I'd much rather medicate my 7 year old, under doctor supervision, which can in turn do things like increase his self esteem, assist in his social behavior, improve his education, not to mention reduce the stress on my husband and me. Selfish or not, an ADHD child is no walk in the park.

So I'd rather do that, then wait till he's failing in school, a total jerk, and possibly self medicating with any or all of the aforementioned ways.

As far as family and friends... I've been "blessed" with very narrow minded in laws. They wouldn't know a monitor from a keyboard much less the research done on children with ADHD and medications and the benefits. Therefore they don't get to help us decide the big things. They are certainly entitled to their opinion, and I'm entitled to ignore them too.

Being ADD myself, I've done far more research than any of my family members. I keep that in mind when they provide their little nuggets of "insight" for me.

Just my views in regards to my own child. It's hard I know, but I guess having had such a positive response to the meds myself, I'm way more biased in that regard. Plus I just read a thread on here today someone's son got A's and B's on his report card after having nearly all F's. That's certainly a point for meds.

12-23-07, 07:24 PM
Re: meds & Addiction :

There are a series of 3 research studies ( at least 2 of which are by Harvard's Joseph Biederman,MD.), going back a total of 13 years, which showed the use of ANY stimulant, decreased the risk of Substance Use Disorder (SUD), by up to a maximum of 82%.

Those data aren't new, however, there's been nothing that I know of to refute them.

The last literature review I did on the subject was probably 1-2 yrs ago.

I went back 20 years and found nothing to the contratry.

Less than a year ago, I spoke with one of our local pediatricians and she was aware of those data as well.

The reason for the reduction in risk is due to stimulants reducing impulsivity.

Hope that helps

Happy Holidays

12-23-07, 10:02 PM
I'm thinking that the "highly addictive" part of amphetamine use is related to the possible "likability" in high doses as opposed to any withdrawal type effects (which do happen, but are usually insignificant at low, therapeutic doses). Caffeine and nicotine produce far worse withdrawal symptoms at typical doses than amphetamine does at typical doses. Some individuals will do anything to get a "high" or a "trip" (even drinking cough syrup), so I don't think the addiction "potential" is always a statement of reality.

12-24-07, 10:55 AM
A 2003 article here:
Does Stimulant Therapy of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Beget Later Substance Abuse? A Meta-analytic Review of the Literature (

Conclusion.Our results suggest that stimulant therapy in childhood is associated with a reduction in the risk for subsequent drug and alcohol use disorders.


Most of the other stuff I found seemed to refer back to this study. Italics mine.


01-07-08, 10:47 PM
Thank you all so much for this information. We have now decided to go ahead and trial some meds. I'm hoping so much that this will be the answer for my son. Wish him luck!

01-08-08, 11:46 PM
I would worry that the frustration at his failures (social; academic) would contribute to addiction risk. ALPHAs AKA successful and popular people (and animals in nature) tend to not need to abuse drugs/alcohol/smoking.

School and social demands get more complicated as kids get older. (e.g. Needed Social EQ and demands on the brain's Executive Function [AKA the brain's manager])

Addiction seems to be partly related to high frustration states/situations and the need to "self soothe". That need is going to be made much worse in kids who are not medicated and do worse in school and peer relations.

One of the worst stress situations in work/school (studies have been done occupationally and in management) is to be in a setting of "high stress [high frustration] + low control [low power/skill to change things]".

Were is ME, I'd give my kids as many advantages as possible... Mostly b/c I wouldn't want my kid to learn to "hate school" and fear humiliation in learning and social settings. YMMV.

Some studies have shown that kids who are medicated early are at lower risk of smoking and using chemicals.

(I am not pro meds or anti meds. Just saying what I've read.)

Matt S.
01-17-08, 04:58 PM
I have an extensive substance abuse history that includes cocaine and I take dexedrine in the way that the doctor tells me to because he is the doctor and that is my approach and attitude around dexedrine even if it is an amphetamine, plus I spent years as a child taking this drug so I think that plays a role in it too.

01-24-08, 12:02 AM
I've been very fortunate.

I'm coming up on 20 yrs in a 12 step program; as a recovering addict.

My doc(drugs of choice) were coke, speed , pot , etc.,etc.,

I was able to avoid having to try stimulants for treating ADHD for many years; as Wellbutrin worked well.

After an allergic reaction to Straterra put me in the hopsital, I had to try something to go along with Wellbutrin.

I've posted on this many times, so I won't go on, other that to say Adderrall makes me sleepy.

If I got a "buzz," then I couldn't take it.

I'm grateful for the way things have worked out for me.

Good Luck & tc


12-27-09, 06:41 PM
I just found this thread. I've been on 30 mg. Ritalin LA, plus 20 mg. ritalin short-acting around 5-6 pm, for about 2 years. During the time my doc and I were working out the dosage, I tried taking 2 30 mg. Ritalin LA, one in early am, one at noon, hoping to avoid the rebound and get coverage through the evening.

I found that on the 2 30 mg. doses, I felt more like I felt totally OFF Ritalin -- anxious and scattered. I have no temptation to take more than the dosage my doc and I finally agreed was the optimal, because all it does is make me feel worse. I wonder if this response is common, and if so, does it act to make overuse less desirable? It certainly does for me.


12-30-09, 11:59 PM
Research still supports the use of stimulants as decreasing the risk of a SUD for ADHD


Obviously,more research is still needed.

Hope that helps.