An Interview with Tammy Strickling: Adderall Use Doesn’t Add Up
1) Tammy, can you first tell is a little bit about your background, education and experience.
I have run non-profit, social betterment organizations for the past 18 years and was inspired to change the course of my life, which began in the entertainment industry, to rehabilitation and reform activities after my twin brother overcame his addiction and is now 20 years clean from the program I run today. I have worked in inner-cities tutoring youth, been involved in gang prevention and reform, drug education and am now focused on expanding my drug rehab facility to help more clients overcome addiction, get reunited with their families and friends and help improve communities.
2) What are your current duties at Suncoast Rehabilitation and where is it located?
Suncoast is located in Spring Hill, Florida. In a nutshell, I am responsible for the overall success of the organization. I do this by hiring effective staff and counselors who deliver the program to our clients, maintaining full compliance with our policies and procedures and expand our quality assurance programs to continually deliver higher quality service to our clients. I am currently focused on expanding the Suncoast facility and program to service more and more people.
3) I understand that there are some problems with Adderall. Can you briefly tell us about this?
Adderall prescriptions are at an all-time high. A recent study from Northwestern University found that between 2000 to 2010, the total number of national ADHD cases among children under 18 increased by 66 percent, from 6.2 million to 10.4 million. As those children have grown up to become college students, the drug has become a fixture on college campuses. Additionally there are more and more adults being diagnosed with ADHD as it was felt that they were missed as children.
Adderall abuse is increasing as it is being used by people for the wrong reasons. For example college students using it as a boost for their study, performance, etc. Mothers are using it to help them get into overdrive and handle the kids, the house, the cleaning and shopping without dropping any balls. People use it to lose weight, help give them energy and have better focus on the day or life. So there is more Adderall out there being used and abused.
Children are being diagnosed with ADHD at an alarming rate, without proper testing. Teachers will have kids go to the doctor because they are not being still in class. Some parents have admitted that their children do not have ADHD, but that the Adderall helps them do better in school. In October 2009, the New York Times wrote a piece on the issue of children being prescribed medications to help in school despite whether they have an attention disorder or not. The use of this pill has become a solution to what should be proper parenting and effective teaching.
4) What are some of the side effects of constant use of Adderall?
Adderall is a stimulant and can result in fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeats. It can alter mood and create feelings of extreme happiness or sadness. It can result in tremors or muscle twitches. It can result on overdose and is a gateway to other drugs such as cocaine, meth, heroin, etc.
5) Is it possible to become addicted to Adderall?
Absolutely. The person taking it feels he can’t function without it and that the drug makes him better. You can begin to take more and more of the drug as you build a tolerance which results in dependence and addiction.
6) Why is it so easy to get Adderall?
ADHD diagnoses are up over 60% over the last 10 years so you have more and more drugs out there. . Parents will take their kids pills, kids will take their parents pills, people will share them, others will sell them. It’s really very easy to get. With doctor shopping and getting illegal prescriptions, they are being sold, given away, etc.
7) I know that there are some new laws monitoring the dispensing of prescription medication?
Monitoring is a very key and vital step in addressing this issue. With the combination of unethical doctors who will dispense large quantities of meds over and over, to no oversight and monitoring, it is so easy to abuse. Monitoring in Florida is important but there also needs to be cross referencing with other states to prevent people coming from other states to states with less stringent laws where they can get prescriptions illegally.
8) Now, I know that elementary school kids, middle school kids and high school kids are given Adderall. I guess my question is how would a college student get a prescription? Is this incompetence, sloppy medicine, or are they getting Adderall off the streets?
I think it’s a combination of all of those. Doctors should think twice when seeing a college student trying to get an ADHD diagnosis so he or she, can get Adderall. If the doctor is just seeing this client and he or she hasn’t had an issue or diagnoses previously, it should be questioned. The problem is there is no actual scientific test for ADHD – really anyone could get the diagnosis if you say the right thing and answer the questions “correctly.” People who doctor shop and get pills will sell them on the street or on college campuses. And then people share them.
9) What are the specific duties of principals in grade schools and middle schools regarding the monitoring of Adderall?
Of course school officials have a duty to ensure that their students are safe and not abusing drugs in school, especially at these younger ages. Because drugs are being tried earlier and earlier and there is a belief that prescription drugs aren’t harmful, a child who takes Adderall incorrectly can have serious effects as a result. I think a key aspect is drug education and really enlightening kids on drugs and their effects. Education is the best prevention there is and with more and more diagnosis and prescriptions there needs to be a lot of education.
10) At the college level, is there any one person responsible, or are these students expected to be autonomous independent individuals?
I think this is a much harder problem as college students are adults and are expected to be responsible. I don’t think at any level there is one responsible person – it is a group issue from the kids to the parents, teachers, doctors, friends, etc. Again, education is key and can stop the problem before it begins and there is no person too old to get educated on the dangers of drugs, including prescription medication.
11) Now, what exactly is Adderall- a stimulant, a psychotropic drug, a hallucinatory drug, an upper or a downer or what?
Adderall is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system and chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It’s an amphetamine.
12) Do you think that inordinate stress contributes to Adderall use and abuse?
Stress is certainly a factor that is used as a reason to take medication including Adderall and especially in school with grades, tests, piles of homework & research, etc. which can contribute to and increase stress levels which lead a person to Adderall as a solution. There are other solutions to handling and managing stress which are safe and effective. Drugs should not be used for such a purpose.