Children's Drug is More Potent than Cocaine 

Children's Drug is More Potent than Cocaine 
Posted by FoM on September 09, 2001 at 13:21:12 PT
By Jean West
Source: The Observer 
The children's drug Ritalin has a more potent effect on the brain than cocaine, a study has found. Using brain imaging, scientists have found that, in pill form, Ritalin - taken by thousands of British children and four million in the United States - occupies more of the neural transporters responsible for the 'high' experienced by addicts than smoked or injected cocaine. The research may alarm parents whose children have been prescribed Ritalin as a solution to Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. 
The study was commissioned to understand more about why Ritalin - which has the same pharmacological profile as cocaine - is effective in calming children and helping them concentrate, while cocaine produces an intense 'high' and is powerfully addictive. In oral form, Ritalin did not induce this intense psychological 'hit'. But Dr Nora Volkow, psychiatrist and imaging expert at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in Upton, New York, who led the study, said that injected into the veins as a liquid rather than taken as a pill, it produced a rush that 'addicts like very much'. Interviewed in last week's Journal of the American Medical Association newsletter, she said: 'They say it's like cocaine.' Even in pill form, Ritalin blocked far more of the brain transporters that affect mood change and had a greater potency in the brain than cocaine. Researchers were shocked by this finding. A normal dose administered to children blocked 70 per cent of the dopamine transporters. 'The data clearly show the notion that Ritalin is a weak stimulant is completely incorrect,' said Volkow. Cocaine is known to block around 50 per cent of these transporters, leaving a surfeit of dopamine in the system, which is responsible for the hit addicts crave. But now it is known that Ritalin blocks 20 per cent more of these auto-receptors. 'I've been almost obsessed about trying to understand Ritalin with imaging,' said Volkow. 'As a psychiatrist I sometimes feel embarrassed about the lack of knowledge because this is by far the drug we prescribe most frequently to children.' However, it was still not clear why a drug that has been administered for more than 40 years was not producing an army of addicted schoolchildren. Volkow and her team concluded that this was due to the much slower process of oral ingestion. It takes around an hour for Ritalin in pill form to raise dopamine levels in the brain. Smoked or injected, cocaine does this in seconds. Dr Joanna Fowler, who worked with Volkow on the project, said: 'All drugs that are abused by humans release large quantities of dopamine. But dopamine is also necessary for people to be able to pay attention and filter out other distractions.' But opponents of Ritalin, labelled a 'wonder drug' and a 'chemical cosh', believe it may be addictive and has dangerous side-effects. Moreover, many believe ADHD is a fraudulent title for a non-existent condition once put down to the exuberance of youth. Professor Steve Baldwin, a child psychologist from Teesside University, who died this year in the Selby rail crash, campaigned against Ritalin. He pointed out similarities between the drug and amphetamines as well as cocaine. Mandy Smith of Banff in Scotland has a son of eight who was prescribed Ritalin for nine months. 'I am astonished the British Government have allowed this drug to be prescribed,' she said. 'It can destroy people's lives. My son was a changed person when he took Ritalin. He was suicidal and depressed.' Janice Hill, of the Overload Support Network, a charity for parents of children with behavioural problems, said: 'Now we have thousands of children in Scotland taking a drug that is more potent than cocaine. What does it take before the situation is thoroughly investigated?' A spokeswoman for Novartis, which makes Ritalin, said: 'Ritalin is available as tablets only. It should only be initially prescribed by a doctor who is a specialist in child behavioural disorders and should always be used and monitored under strict medical supervision.' Newshawk: Jose Melendez Source: Observer, The (UK)Author: Jean WestPublished: Sunday, September 9, 2001Copyright: 2001 The ObserverContact: letters Articles:Recreational Ritalin: A Disturbing Trend, Ritalin are the New Drugs of Choice Hustlers' New Drug: Ritalin
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Comment #7 posted by xdr_zombiexx on September 10, 2001 at 04:33:07 PT:
Kids and Ritalin
I am a professional child and family psychotherapist, and I work with "hyperactive children". Have for a long time.Used "properly" - which is saying a lot - ritalin is helpful and has few notable side -effects.It is all to frequently NOT used properly.The issues are 1: WHO wants the child on Ritalin? In my experience 80% of the families who come seeking ritalin invariably say "well, the teacher said he/she needed to be on it". Issue #2 becomes WHO is prescxribing and monitoring?Teachers TEACH! They don't diagnose mental health issues. They can suspect and make recommendations, but they should never tell a parent what medication a child should or should not take. I do not tell them how to teach thier kids.Over and over though I have kids referred to me, parents shopping thier child from doctor to doctor (I am not a doctor, just a therapist - the dude who does all the work the doctor recommends) to get him or her "put on ritalin".I am horrified that somebody, en route to proving something they admit they are "almost obsecced with" liquifying ritalin" so it can be injected in larger quantities. That seems outrageously irresponsible! The whole issue with ritalin is monitoring and keeping the dose to the minimum necessaryto accomplish the goals. Oh, yeah.. it should be used in the context of a regularly monitored treatment plan as well. Its WRONG to have this drug given to a child by a general practitioner with a "come back in 3 months and tell me how he's doing" arrangement.ADHD does exist. I chuckle everytime I hear the anti-psychiatric nonsense that this or that mental illness doesn't exist. It's real. But, as I started off saying, you cannot let teachers make the diagnosis. Conneticut just enacted legislation saying just that.ADHD is diagnosed by a psychiatrist foloowing a proper diagnostic assessment from someone like me. To the untrained, Anxiety and depressive disorders look like adhd becuase they keep children from focusing and sitting still. The lady who complained her child became intensley depressed after a trial on ritalin knows this by now, I hope. In some cases, children that were diagnosed with adhd grew up and exhibited Bipolar disorder - a serious mental illness.Ritalin is definatley to be used judiciously and in moderation. The child should be in other forms of treatment, not just drugged to make teachers and parents happy. Children requirer work, plain and simple. (shouldn't let the TV babysit them day in and day out , either)
Childhood is not a problem to be solved.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on September 09, 2001 at 17:13:25 PT
New Mexican 
You're welcome, I'm trying to catch up on news that I missed because of recent events. I know I will not get them all though but I'll try. I saw Jose posted the link and I went and got the article.
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Comment #5 posted by Robbie on September 09, 2001 at 16:25:00 PT
I was a hyperactive kid...and in 1979 my folks to me to a psychologist who recommended this drug called "Ritalin" for helping me concentrate. My parents were pretty damned cool and they asked me if I wanted to do it. So then the doc played some pool with me while talking about it. And he asked me and I said no. And that was the end of it.Why oh why didn't I take the blue pill?!?(just kidding)
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Comment #4 posted by New Mexican on September 09, 2001 at 16:21:00 PT
Does this anger or surprise anyone?
40 years of use and no studies on this drug, but its' use is widespread and promoted by anti-'drug' schools, doctors, hospitals, counselors etc. It's all about money dddd likes to say: follow the money! Nobody really cares what other people do, as long as there is a profit made of that activity. Free enterprise meets puritanism or something like that. Thanks FOM for getting this article out there, as it makes our point so well.
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Comment #3 posted by Toker00 on September 09, 2001 at 16:20:59 PT
Do as I say, not do as I do.
You cannot grow a plant (Cannabis) to injest as medicine. We will kill you for it. However, we CAN force you to purchase pharmacueticals (poison powders) to keep your children in line. And we can make record profits off it, too. But don't you dare try to provide a natural remedy for the ailments we make billions on, with our poison powders. Like I said, we will KILL YOU FOR IT!!Thank you,YOUR FRIENDLY PHARMECUETICAL COMPANY AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTWE WILL NEVER FORGET RAINBOW FARMS. NEVER!!Peace. Realize, then Legalize. 
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Comment #2 posted by bruce42 on September 09, 2001 at 16:10:48 PT
this is madness
Somehow people have overlooked the fact that pumping a developing brain full of powerful drugs might do some serious damage... ummmmm... does the public have NO common sense any more? No wonder US citizens are but sheep to the whims of big business and the's a brief artilce from it's old, but it seems kinda relavent. Maybe some of us remember it, maybe not. At least it's kind of interesting. Saves the BrainMarijuana has well-known medicinal uses, but the latest finding sounds like something from the Bizarro world. Aidan Hampson and his colleagues of the National Institute of Mental Health find that THC and cannibidiol, two chemicals found in the marijuana plant, are potent antioxidants which could prevent the death of brain cells in stroke victims. Unlike THC, cannibidiol is not a psychoactive substance--in other words, it doesn't cause a high--and it few side effects. In studies using rats neurons, Hampson's group determined that cannibidiol is at least as powerful as vitamins C and E in mopping up dangerous oxidizing compounds released during a stroke. The marijuana-derived chemical could even be useful for treating Alzheimer's, which may also involve neuron damage caused by oxidation. Hampson's work appears in the July Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Who knew pot could help the brain? More immediate progress toward understanding Alzheimer's is reported three articles in the July issue of Nature Medicine. Neurologists at Harvard Medical School have produced the first convincing animal model of Alzheimer's, in rhesus monkeys. Researchers at the Heinrich-Heine University in Germany have developed a superior technique for diagnosing the disease on the basis of protein plaques that form in the brain. And a team from New York University Medical Center have discovered a molecule that breaks up the plaques, which could lead to a treatment for Alzheimer's. --Corey S. PowellPosted 7/7/98 
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Comment #1 posted by Bounce to the Ounce on September 09, 2001 at 14:06:39 PT
This just goes to show you the dangerous drugs the government/FDA pushes on children to make them good little boys and girls. I would know. When I was 10 years old, doctors put me on high doses of Cylert and Ritalin to help my mild case of ADD. Now 8 years later it has been proven to have stunted my growth and reduced the amount of chemicals in my brain that helps me sleep. And there are many people my age who have even worse side effects from the pharmaceutical drugs pushed on them as kids.and yet this is the same government spends billions of dollars that (ineffectively) tries to keep children from smoking the "deadly demon weed".
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