One of the saddest stories I’ve read recently was on the front page of The New York Times recently. Titled, it was the saga of 20-something Richard Fee from Virginia, once a class president at his college who hoped to attend medical school. Instead, he committed suicide in 2011 after a soul-crushing addiction to the A.D.H.D. medication Adderol.
I don’t know what was worse for me—reading about the doctors who prescribed the medication—one was portrayed mostly as a stilted, uncaring, stupid ass, or the parents’ heartache as they watched their son’s downward spiral. It’s unimaginable that one doctor in the article tried to justify his continually giving this kid medication, even after the man’s father (Rick) told the doctor he was killing his son. Your heart goes out to th eparents.
Addiction, and especially death from addiction, bring out the worst in me, as I’m sure it does for many people. Here is more about Richard Fee’s story (but little I can write in a blog post can do justice to it. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and read it for yourself.) In 2009 Richard was already taking Vyvanse, an A.D.H.D. drug, his father noted. The son said he was having trouble studying for medical school entrance exams and a doctor had prescribed the pills. That was a surprise to his dad, since Richard had never exhibited any symptoms. (As many people know, college students often abuse these meds because they allow for a greater focus and help in studying.)
In the next two years, Richard increased his intake, got more and more pills, and became moody, violent and paranoid and was hallucinating. As time went on, his parents had him arrested and threw him out, and he spent time in a psychiatric ward. But they also pleaded with doctors to stop, and to help. The article is spread over four pages. The author includes much more, such as the problem with diagnosing and treating A.D.H.D. patients and the mess these meds have caused in this country.
To be fair, an expert quoted in the article said this is an extreme case. But people touched by addition know of similar cases, and when it’s someone close to you, it’s always extreme. It’s senseless and needless to have a life lost to addiction because it’s preventable in most cases. (I’ll add that caveat.)
Also in the interest of fairness, it must be remembered that these medications have helped countless people. To say all A.D.H.D. meds are nothing but bad, you run the same danger as when you decry pain meds. Many people desperately need pain meds, don’t abuse them, and don’t become addicted.