Reporting Cynthia Demos
MIAMI (CBS4) – Annie Gendaszek was introduced to ADHD medications when she was just 13-years old, by a friend with a prescription.
“I really liked the effect and how they made me feel, so I sought out my own prescriptions from doctors,” said Gendaszek.
By the time she was in college, she was abusing the drugs daily, and she knew she need help.
“Significant weight loss, irritable moods. I started lying, being dishonest, stealing,” Gendaszek claimed.
Dr. Timothy Wilens, Director for the Center of Addiction Medicine in Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital, said an estimated five to ten percent of young people are misusing or abusing ADD/ADHD Medications.
“If you’re just popping them willy nilly and you’re using them in context with other substances, which is frequently occurring, that could be potentially dangerous,” said Wilens.
Rehab centers say they’re seeing an influx of patients addicted to the drugs.
“It’s huge. I have probably a hundred clients and over 80 percent of them have been addicted to Adderall since they were in grade school. It’s an enormous rise from just 10 years ago,” said Velvet Mangan CEO Safe Harbor Treatment Centers for Women.
Experts blame the fact that the drugs are easy to obtain and socially acceptable.
“It’s just kind of the norm on college campuses, just like drinking is,” Mangan pointed out.
Timothy Wilens, insisted, “It’s similar to misusing any kind of amphetamine or speed or cocaine. And it’s going to require abstinence from that. It’s going to require recovery management skills, how to fight urges, how to fight cravings.”
Rehab centers also focus on the emotional problems behind the substance abuse.
“It’s not what you use, it’s why you’re using,” Mangan pointed out. “So we focus on life skills, we focus on self-esteem.”
Through rehab, Annie got the help she needed. And she’s about to celebrate four years of sobriety.
“It’s a really sad and lonely place to be. But there is hope and there is a solution.” said Annie.
Experts point out in addition to being harmful to your health and addictive, selling ADHD prescription or even just giving it away to your friends is actually a felony offense subject to serious penalties including fines and jail time if convicted.