With debate raging about the pros and cons of prescribing Ritalin for attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder, teenagers have decided that the cash benefits of selling their pills are sweet. In Connecticut, a single 5mg tablet can go for as much as ten dollars. These pills are being sold on the grounds of our high schools. Are they at the middle or elementary level as well?
Drug abuse overall in this country is a problem. Our students are using and abusing substances. For those who aren’t in the know, desired drugs go well beyond the expected marijuana and cocaine. Ritalin is a highly desired substance, and is as addictive as cocaine. It is a major stimulant. Children who have attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder do not feel the high. They feel more able to concentrate. A child without that condition, however, is feeling a powerful stimulative effect.
Ritalin is typically prescribed to be taken two to three times per day. The effect of the drug tends to wane after four to six hours, although parents of young children know that Mountain Dew can make the drug last longer. A one month supply of pills can range between sixty and ninety tablets. For a teenager who can sell those pills for ten dollars apiece, there may not be much motivation to swallow the medication they were prescribed.
Parents of children with Ritalin prescriptions should be on the lookout for unexplained cash. At ten dollars per pill, money will accumulate rather quickly. Especially if it appears their attention and concentration is off. If your child has been prescribed Ritalin for a valid cause, you will be able to notice the difference. On the other hand, children who spend significant amounts of cash and never seem to bring anything home should be asked where that money is going. Drugs cost money. Other than food, there is nothing consumable to buy. As a parent, you need to ask.
If you discover that your child is selling their medication, it is necessary to get an appointment with the physician immediately. If your physician decides that the medication is still needed, arrangements can be made to lock the medications in the nurses office at school. Or supervision can be provided at home to watch the child swallow. Most teenagers will find this offensive. This is a learning opportunity. Children who sell drugs are not given free access to drugs. In most cases, a child who is selling their prescription doesn’t really need the drug in the first place. Again, only your doctor can determine the necessity of medication. But the doctor does have a right to know that the medication is being sold illegally.
If your child is the buyer, you have a bigger problem on your hands. Children who abuse substances need mental health attention. It is not reasonable to believe they will stop with Ritalin. The child who is purchasing Ritalin on the street is not seeking a harmless drug to help them concentrate better. The child is buying a powerful, addictive stimulant. It may not be named cocaine, but it is in the same family of drugs. The response to Ritalin abuse should be the same response you would have if you found your child buying cocaine.
The fact that a drug is legal and prescribed does not eliminate risk. Many people sitting in jail today are there due to a problem of abusing or selling prescription drugs. Vicodin, Hydrocodone, and Morphine are all recognizable names. Ritalin and Adderall are just as harmful. Parents and educators need to be aware of the risks.