DEA says; ADHD experts disagree
Chicago. Ritalin, the most commonly prescribed drug for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, has come under scrutiny by the Drug Enforcement Administration, which claims the drug is being abused more frequently by the nation’s youth.”Basically, we’re monitoring the situation and putting the pieces together,” said Rogene Waite, spokeswoman for the DEA, which lists Ritalin (methylphenidate) on its list of drugs of concern. “I don’t think you could compare it with some of the drugs people are more concerned about like cocaine or heroin, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be aware of the problems that can arise.”DEA officials cite anecdotal evidence and a number of statistics provided by government agencies that purport to show a rise in teen abuse of Ritalin, a mild stimulant that has an opposite, calming effect on children with ADHD. One study shows a sevenfold increase from 1990 to 1996 in the number of “emergency room mentions of methylphenidate” among children ages 10 to 14. The study cited about 375 mentions in 1996.The agency’s use of these statistics has drawn the scorn of physicians and ADHD experts who claim no definitive studies prove any abuse is taking place.”This is being argued by the DEA and nobody else, and it is open to serious question,” said Russell Barkley, PhD, professor of psychiatry and neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and an ADHD specialist. “I’m concerned about how the DEA is using and misusing the data they have to attack Ritalin.”Barkley said children cannot get high by ingesting the capsules, which are designed to time-release the drug between doses, but must either crush the drug into powder and snort it, or inject the drug intravenously. “There is no data anywhere to show that there is a national, or even a regional problem. In my opinion, they have a political agenda. It is very misleading,” Barkley said.