A couple weeks back it was reported that the prescription “Adderall was prescribed to treat ADHD and “chronic sleepiness”. Huh? I’ve heard of chronic fatigue, but sleepiness, is a new one on me. That could qualify all teenagers who sleep past noon and after reading yesterday’s expose’, it takes little more than that to get a medical professional to write a prescription. These well-intentioned doctors do not consider the secondary market, a cottage industry of student-dealers pushing a dependency on such stimulants to enhance high school performance-after all ‘you’re at at a disadvantage to other students who are all doing it”.
Worse however, is the perception among students that it really does the trick. School administrators cited an estimated 30% of the student body engages in such practices. With such large numbers, a formal study is justified. One student gets the real stuff, another gets a placebo. After tracking performance, we can determine for certain if this is due to the drug. I mention this because I know of two parents who stated their child took Adderall for the SATs, they reportedly informed their parents of this after the test, claiming they expected a jump in their scores, but much to their, and their parents’ dismay, neither student’s scores increased. I couldn’t tell if their parents were disappointed, or if they were relieved. Knowing both kids, I was relieved, if such an increase were realized, it would reinforce the practice, and minimize the importance of study habits, if all that was required was a pill. Curiously absent in the article, was any mention of how/if parents assist or prod their children into using such performance enhancing drugs, and it is simply incredulous that the percentage quoted can occur without their complicity. There are legally attained versions of this as well; 5 Hour Energy Drink is sold over the counter to anyone 18 or older.
To attribute success to a drug instead of attitude and preparation leads to a false dependency on a prescription that may/may not have the intended affect. “I’m sorry teacher, I couldn’t do my homework because my dog ate my Adderall! ” One other point noted but not expanded upon, was the side affect of weight loss- how many students, adults, etc. are using this drug for weight loss? That may turn out to be an even larger incentive as these ‘HIGH” schoolers, pun intended, head off to college and try to stave off the ‘freshmen 10’.
Last week the WSJ reported on a customer’s purchase of a $41 ice cream birthday cake, on food stamps aka, SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. While there are safeguards in place to prevent the purchase of alcohol and cigarettes, no such provision prevents extravagant purchases on the tax payers’ wallet or even excessively fattening products, like Cajun fried pork rinds. It was also reported this week that SNAP will begin decreasing the rolls of recipients, in an attempt to curb fraud, a welcome step, but what of regulating purchases for legitimate SNAP recipients? Those in poverty are also those with the highest rates of diabetes, and this is no mere coincidence. By failing to exercise controls, the USDA allows the purchase of Ring Dings, $41 birthday cakes, and a cupboard full of questionable products that foster a lifetime of poor eating habits. As Elton John sang over 35 years ago ‘time’s are changin’ now the poor get fat’.
Educating the public on its poor choices with the intent they change those choices is a worthy goal, but removing their ability to make those poor choices is paramount over any concerns of political correctness or outcry they are being micro-managed. NY’s Mayor Bloomberg ignored the outcry of New Yorkers who objected to his efforts to legislate their dietary decisions by outlawing large soda purchases. He doesn’t care, nor should he. He recognizes that we are paying at both ends, to feed the needy and then to undo the damage of an unregulated diet of over 35% of the city’s population, an unaffordable cycle, all the more objectionable because it is government-induced. Bloomberg recognizes the enemy of his constituents, themselves, and is fighting with the right ammo, too bad other leaders/agencies don’t have the courage to follow suit.