Apr 20, 2008

Drug Rehab Might Be a Good Idea for Scientists Using Stimulants

Do as I say, not as I do, unfortunately, doesn't always work: Advice is often not taken seriously when the advisor's actions are contrary to their advice. That said, how will the news be received that 80% of Nature readers, mostly scientists, feel healthy adults should be able to take Ritalin and similar drugs to enhance their focus? How many millions of students hoping to follow in their footsteps will see that as a license to take drugs? And how many will end up in drug rehab because of it?

The recent survey conducted by Nature was quite a shocker: 25% of the 1400 respondents have already taken what are now called 'cognitive-enhancing' drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall. Granted, some of them stopped because of the side effects - hopefully not too many of them needed drug rehab to do that. But let's have a look at the side effects those who wish to emulate their role models may experience.

Reduced appetite or gastrointestinal upsets.

Tics and repetitive movements.

Trouble sleeping.

Depression as the drug wears off or while taking it - the recommended remedies include taking the drug more frequently, switching to a different drug, or taking an antidepressant as well as the stimulant.

Anxiety or Irritability - these are treated the same way as depression: switching to a different drug or taking an antidepressant along with the stimulant.

Feeling 'jittery' - sometimes addressed with anti-hypertensive beta blockers which, by the way, can negatively interact with allergy shots, asthma drugs, insulin and other diabetes medicines, and some antidepressants. Let's hope someone experiencing depression, anxiety or irritability from Ritalin isn't also on an antidepressant as well as a beta-blocker.

Increased blood sugar levels - dangerous for a diabetic or anyone who is somewhat glucose intolerant, which, by the way, many people are without even realizing it.

Increased blood pressure - again, more beta-blockers.

Psychosis or paranoia


Sudden death.

As you can see, Ritalin and similar drugs can have serious risks and side effects - many of which are addressed by taking another drug, some of which have their own set of serious side effects. And we haven't even mentioned the fact that the drugs are addictive and that drug rehab or drug detox may be required to stop taking them.

Okay, scientist, what do you say to your students, or your own kids, when they find out you're taking Ritalin? Will you tell them how dangerous it is? How it can lead to the need for other drugs that are equally or more dangerous? Will you tell them they might get addicted and need drug detox or drug rehab? And what are you going to say when they ask why you're taking it if it's so dangerous?

Prescription drug addiction is epidemic in the U.S. Drug detox and drug rehab center admissions are as high, sometimes hgher, for prescription drugs than their illegal counterparts. And, they're killing people.

If we don't want our kids, students, and others who admire and depend on scientists to better their lives, perhaps it's time to rethink the ethics of this matter. And if you are a scientist taking these drugs, perhaps it's time to get into a drug detox or drug rehab program and, afterwards, do some research on healthy ways to improve your mind.

Gloria MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.
More on drug rehab

No comments: