– The New York Times has a very disturbing story about high-achieving high school students who abuse prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall, to get better grades. The drugs help them focus and fuel studying hours at a time. Kids lie to their physicians to get the drugs or buy them from friends at school:
While these medicines tend to calm people with A.D.H.D., those without the disorder find that just one pill can jolt them with the energy and focus to push through all-night homework binges and stay awake during exams afterward. “It’s like it does your work for you,” said William, a recent graduate of the Birch Wathen Lenox School on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
But abuse of prescription stimulants can lead to depression and mood swings (from sleep deprivation), heart irregularities and acute exhaustion or psychosis during withdrawal, doctors say.
The article repeatedly said there was no hard data to back up the trend and most of the students wanted to stay anonymous. But the Times interviewed too many of these students and experts to dismiss.
The story made me think of the film “Race to Nowhere.” It’s about the high-stress culture of high schools, which has led to cheating, burnout and the overscheduling of kids.
The piece also raises questions about the overmedication of children for ADHD.
What is driving this succeed-at-all-costs culture. Do you think this is happening in the Rochester area?
– The jingle is memorable. “5-2-1-0. Be a healthy hero.” But is the anti-child obesity campaign working? The Democrat and Chronicle has a very interesting look at the lack of transparency at the Greater Rochester Health Foundation. The article raises the question of whether foundations should have a responsibility to disclose more about finances and outcomes.
– Does this story make you think differently about illegal immigrants? This woman was brought to the U.S. as a child and now has her master’s degree. But she can’t find work without a Social Security number.
– I helped found the Rochester Media Association last year. Believe it or not, our community didn’t have an active press club. Last night, we held our first ever awards banquet and I think was a big success. We hope it’s a tradition that will last well into the future.