February 13, 2012

And these are not your everyday bargain-bin rusty-bathtub amphetamines, either. I should know. I’ve driven around the old raceway a few times, if you know what I mean. Over an 11-day stretch back in college, I snorted enough slushy, dirty Philly crank to churn out 115 pages’ worth of term papers. I even smoked ice maybe a dozen times, not that I’m proud of it. And I still drink roughly a keg of coffee daily. But never in my life have I taken any form of speed that felt as pure as the little blue Adderall tablet I popped many years ago—maybe a day or two before the Statute of Limitations would have run out, to be perfectly safe. I felt like someone had attached my nipples to a car battery—and not in a good way! Except for the coffee, I’ve never done speed since. It wasn’t even a big dose, but that single experience made me decide that Adderall was just as bad as cocaine or meth—possibly more dangerous, because it was stamped with the Holy Seal of Legality.

If you had told me thirty years ago that they’d be prescribing amphetamines to kindergarteners who acted up in class, I would have said you’re crazy. Now that they’re actually doing it, I say the world’s crazy.

Suddenly everyone’s depressed. Suddenly everyone’s anxious. Suddenly everyone’s distracted. And suddenly there are pills for all of it.

My adrenaline starts pumping when I repeatedly see phrases such as “long-term data are scarce,” “Long term effects…are unknown,” “There is limited data regarding long term use of stimulants,” and “The long term effects on the developing brain and on mental health disorders in later life of chronic use of methylphenidate [Ritalin] is unknown.”

They’re the experts, right? Shouldn’t they know? For short-term profits, they’re using millions of Americans as meth-lab guinea pigs?

A US government report describes how “A 9 year old female experienced visual hallucinations (started seeing jellyfish on the floor and bugs crawling on her), while taking Adderall XR” and “an 8 year old girl, was hospitalized for suicidal threats and explosive temper one day after discontinuing Adderall XR 30 mg.” That sounds much worse than if they’d just been left alone to fidget in their seats.

A 12-year-old girl’s Adderall-induced psychosis made her fantasize about stabbing holes in her brother. A North Dakota man shotgunned his infant daughter and himself dead only ten days after he started taking Adderall. Popping too many “study buddies” allegedly drove a Tennessee college student to step in front of a train and commit suicide in 2009.

Long-term amphetamine use can lead to trifles such as strokes, convulsion comas, schizophrenia, hallucinations, depression, psychosis, cognitive impairment, cardiac death, kidney failure, and erectile dysfunction, but hey, don’t let that spoil your fun.

Maybe it’s not the best idea to be mega-dosing Americans with speed merely because they have short attention spans.

Maybe they’re just bored. Or a little slow. Maybe they’re too polite to tell you what they really think of you, which is why they’re avoiding eye contact.

I’m sure if I was a kid today, they’d have me gakked-out on so many grams of Kiddie Cocaine, I’d be running around like a tiny pink sweaty Tom Arnold.

During grade school, I was told the reason I acted up in class was because I was smart and found the subject matter they were teaching to be boring. Even at six years old, that alibi didn’t ring true with me. I wasn’t paying attention to the teachers because they weren’t very interesting. But aside from a few detentions, the worst I got out of it was an “F” grade in Conduct one semester. These days they’d diagnose me with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and herd me onto the Kiddie Cattle Car of the American Speed Train.

There’s no better time to question authority than when they make the very act of questioning authority into a mental disorder.

Sometimes boys are made to misbehave, and it’s healthier to let ’em do it. At least it’s better than if in some misguided attempt to make them behave, you create a prematurely burned-out tweaker in the process. Right now, I’m happy it’s just me, my unbroken restless spirit, and my coffee.



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