The abuse of ADHD drugs on college campuses has reached epidemic proportions, according to the authors of a recent review in the Journal of Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. ADHD drugs, like Ritalin and Adderall, have become so commonplace on college campuses that students who abuse these drugs for studying, weight loss and partying are underestimating their risks. As a result, we have seen exponential increases in emergency room visits, overdoses, and suicides by students taking these drugs.
“In America, medication is becoming almost as much a staple of childhood as Disney and McDonald’s,” writes Sarah Boseley in the Guardian. In this piece photographer Baptiste Lignel follows six boys and girls to examine the long-term effects of these drugs.
LiveScience reports on a new analysis revealing that children diagnosed with ADHD who are prescribed stimulant medications take longer to fall asleep, sleep for shorter amounts of time and don’t sleep as well as other children diagnosed with ADHD who are not taking stimulants. "Sleep was worse in every analysis that we did," said study author Katherine M. Kidwell, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska.
Peter Holley reports for the Washington Post that a powerful and highly addictive amphetamine drug known as fenethylline or Captagon is being used to fuel ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq. “Captagon has been around in the West since the 1960s, when it was given to people suffering from hyperactivity, narcolepsy, and depression.”
When language has been ingrained in a culture for a long time, it takes a concerted effort to change it. How do we stop using the word “addiction” in relation to cases of iatrogenic benzo dependence? Here are a few suggestions.
While plans to involuntary commit drug users have “received virtual across-the-board support,” Susan Sered from TruthOut reports that “there is little to no evidence showing that coerced drug treatment is effective,” and that “having abstained from opiates for several days may set them up to overdose when they return to their former level of drug use, with a reduced tolerance for the drugs.”
A “not otherwise specified” (NOS) diagnosis is often used when an individual may have some symptoms related to a psychiatric diagnosis but does not meet enough criteria to warrant a full diagnosis. A new study, published online ahead of print in Psychiatric Services, reveals that the proportion of mental health visits resulting in such NOS diagnoses rose to nearly fifty percent, and that these diagnoses do not result in more conservative psychiatric drug prescriptions.
On The Daily Show, Michael Che interviews MIA contributor Peter Gøtzsche and discovers that pharmaceutical companies and drug cartels have more in common than one might think.
A new study suggests that service members who take stimulant medications to stay alert are five times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, the LA Times reports. “Those who had been prescribed multiple stimulants and the biggest supplies of the drugs were the most likely to have PTSD.”
With the American Medical Association (AMA) declaring its opposition to direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising, Martha Rosenberg asks, did DTC increase the number of people who have "diseases"? "’Are there periods of time when you have racing thoughts? Fly off the handle at little things? Spend out of control? Need less sleep? Feel irritable? You may need treatment for bipolar disorder,’ read print ads in major magazines for Seroquel when it was first approved for bipolar disorder. Of course the person with racing thoughts could also just be drinking too much coffee or be experiencing stress at work.”
Adverse effects from psychiatric drugs account for almost one in ten adult emergency room visits related to prescription medications and one in five of these visits result in hospitalization.
On Tuesday, the American Medical Association (AMA) declared its opposition to direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs. The US is one of the few countries that still allows drug companies to advertise prescription drugs in television commercials and magazines. The change in policy appears to have arisen largely as a result of concerns about how consumer demand for new drugs, fueled by advertisements, drives up costs on the health care system as a whole.
The results of epidemiological studies of the prevalence of hallucinations strongly imply that psychosis and schizophrenia exist on a spectrum, according to the Scientific American. This suggests “that the standard treatment for a psychotic episode might be due for an overhaul.”
In a guest blog for the Scientific American, Peter Kinderman takes on the “harmful myth” that our more distressing emotions can best be understood as symptoms of physical illnesses. “Our present approach to helping vulnerable people in acute emotional distress is severely hampered by old-fashioned, inhumane and fundamentally unscientific ideas about the nature and origins of mental health problems.”
In an open letter to all US presidential candidates published Thursday in the BMJ, a group of global health care experts assert that current research regulations allow drug companies to publish incomplete and misleading results. They ask the candidates to declare whether they support improved transparency measures that would make data on drug studies publically available and open to scrutiny.
For the New York Times Well blog, Katherine Ellision writes about how the rise in ADHD diagnoses globally is sparking “debates about the validity of the diagnosis and the drugs used to treat it.”
Infants exposed to SSRIs and benzodiazepines during pregnancy show impaired neurological functioning in the first month after birth, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. While infants exposed SSRIs alone showed neurobehavioral effects throughout the first month, those exposed to an SSRI and a benzodiazepine had more significant problems.
The first systematic investigation of the adverse effects associated with prescribing drugs “off-label” found that the common practice of using drugs for conditions for which they are not approved increases the risk of adverse effects.
“My vegetable beds have even buoyed me through more acute stressors, such as my medical internship, my daughter’s departure for college, and a loved one’s cancer treatment,” writes Dr. Daphne Miller. Now neuroscientists are attempting to study the antidepressant effects of soil microbes in hopes of unlocking the secrets of a powerful mood enhancer.
Language is important. And when language dictates specific treatment protocols, it should be used with extreme scrutiny. Using the wrong words can put vulnerable people at risk—not only to their sense of self-worth, their sense of self-knowledge, and they way they are treated, but also to their health.
ServiceNet, a mental health and human service agency in western Massachusetts, received a three year, two million dollar grant to launch a program designed to support young adults who have recently experienced their first episode of psychosis. The Prevention and Recovery Early Psychosis (PREP) program is funded by the Massachusetts department of mental health and is designed to treat psychosis as a symptom, not an illness, resulting from other health problems, substance abuse, trauma, or extreme stress.
In the Boston Globe, Sarah Schweitzer tells the story of a young boy brutally abused by his parents then given to his grandparents who struggled with extreme poverty and homelessness. “Researchers now understood that trauma could alter the chemistry of developing brains and disrupt the systems that help a person handle stress, propelling a perpetual state of high alert. The consequences could be lifelong. As an adult, he’d be more likely to suffer anxiety and depression and heart disease and stroke. His ability to hold a job, manage money, and make good decisions could be compromised. And there was evidence, controversial but mounting, that he could pass on these traits to his children.”
In the third major verdict of its kind, drug giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay Nicholas Murray, a 21-year-old Maryland man who grew female breasts while taking the antipsychotic Risperdal. The company failed to warn doctors, patients, and regulators of the risk of abnormal breast development in young males and now faces about 5,400 lawsuits involving the drug.
The Washington Examiner reports that the manufacturer of the antipsychotic Abilify is seeking FDA approval for digitized pills that would alert doctors if patients fail to take their drugs on schedule.
For the USC Center for Health Journalism, Martha Rosenberg points out the absurdity of allowing industry funded doctors to teach classes to practitioners about psychiatric drugs. "What if the written road test drivers take were sponsored by BP or Shell and had marketing messages interspersed?"
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