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    Thursday, April 22, 2004

    Relaxation Therapy: Some doctors (from where else? California!) say that pot should be the treatment of choice for attention deficit disorder:

    Ritalin is an amphetamine — we have all of these youngsters running around on speed," said Keith Stroup, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (search).

    "Although it flies in the face of conventional wisdom, it's nevertheless true that cannabis is far safer and more effective than the prescription agents currently advocated for treatment of ADD-ADHD," O'Connell said.

    It always has made me uncomfortable having these ADD kids on amphetamines, but I'm not sure turning them into stoners is the answer, either. Even though the doctors recommending marijuana for this use are restricting themselves to non-inhaled forms - brownies, candy, and tea - there's still the issue of drug use to contend with. And the truth is that kids who use pot are more likely to go on to try and use other drugs.

    Actually, one of my patients uses marijuana for just this purpose, not on my advice but from his own counsel. He told me he began to smoke it in high school because it calmed him down and helped him concentrate. He uses it now that he's in his late twenties for the same reason. The only problem is, he also disclosed to me recently that he's started taking crystal meth to help him lose weight. No wonder his blood pressure was high, eh?

    Now, this could be turned into an argument for legalization of marijuana. If my patient weren't already tuned into the illegal drug market from his marijuana use, he probably wouldn't have been able to turn so easily to crystal meth. But I wouldn't advocate that teenagers smoke or eat or drink marijuana to sedate themselves anymore than I would recommend they drink alcohol. There are dependency and health issues that must be considered. A better solution would be to work on a prescription tablet form of it to be used for ADD. Of course, that would take time and money and investment and studies. But, the ADD market is a big one. Surely there are some drug companies out there interested in doing the research?

    UPDATE: A reader takes exception with reservations about Ritalin:

    Wow. Pot for ADD? My husband and I both have ADD, as do three of our siblings. My kids will obviously be predisposed to it as well. I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams giving my kids marijuana because I was concerned about Ritalin's safety. We've got studies up the wazoo proving stimulants are safe for kids; make sure their growth doesn't get stunted because they forget to eat, and everything's great. Where is the evidence suggesting marijuana is safe, much less effective?

    I do not understand why people are so scared of Ritalin--scared enough, apparently, that a drug known to cause brain damage seems safer. Okay: it's an amphetamine. So what? No reasonable person is scared to take Robitussin for a cough, even though dextromethorphan is an opiate with the potential for abuse. Why this unreasonable fear of Ritalin? I take Concerta, and I'd give it to my 6-year-old in a minute. I'd be much more wary of Strattera, and marijuana? Not my kid. Give me amphetamines any day.

    ....Treatment is being withheld from kids every day by misinformed parents scared of "drugging" their kids. It is so much harder for me to function effectively off Concerta that it makes me sick to my stomach to see kids being forced to muddle through life without the safe, effective treatment that would make their lives so much easier.


    posted by Sydney on 4/22/2004 09:46:00 AM 0 comments


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