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FIRST-PERSON: The danger of attention deficit drugs

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–It is easy enough to become deeply concerned about the negative effects of such illegal monsters as heroin or crack cocaine, or even the more deceitful legal substances such as the tempting, yet highly addictive and dangerous alcoholic beverages.

Recently fears were aroused about over-the-counter products such as the potentially dangerous Ephedra. Could it be possible that some of the seemingly safe products manufactured by reputable pharmaceutical companies and prescribed by trusted medical professionals present similar possibilities for tragic ends?

We have proclaimed for years the potential devastating consequences of using the popular attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder medications. The popular remedies for such questionable diagnoses have been stimulants, containing amphetamine-based substances.

These Schedule II drugs are among the most dangerous and highly addictive drugs that can be legally prescribed by a doctor. Some of these stimulant drugs are used interchangeably with cocaine in laboratory research projects. Yes, they often do produce some temporary relief to children who are hyperactive or unable to concentrate on school work, but the eventual question that should be asked is, “At what cost do these drugs provide these miracles?”

We well remember the consequences that we paid for addictions to amphetamines and methamphetamine in our pasts. These substances played havoc with our minds and almost destroyed our physical health.

In our present “feel good” society, there is a constant rush to discover some new miracle worker that will help us avoid pain or temporary discomfort, no matter what the eventual cost. “Enjoy now, and pay the price later” seems to be the life assumption that permeates our families.

But, friends, there is not a pill that will take care of every problem or unpleasant feeling. These are a natural part of the living experience, and they make us appreciate the good days. For parents and teachers seeking instant respite from energetic children experiencing natural growing-up pains, we urge you to provide more time with and interest in these children, rather than resorting to a drug that may someday, somewhere cause that child to self-destruct.

The pharmaceutical community has not been content with the profitable market among young people provided by such medicines as Ritalin or Aderol. Answering critics, one company now promotes a non-stimulant attention deficit disorder medication. But beware, even these contain some side effects that are similar to those advertised by the manufacturers of the stimulants, and the necessity for the existence of these drugs, whether stimulant or non-stimulant, is quite debatable.

Tampering with the welfare of our young was not enough — the most recent search for additional profits has led to a barrage of advertisements touting the benefits of such drugs for the ever-widening market of adults.

Recently, another alarm was sounded by the FDA about the popular anti-depressants. We recently reminded audiences in churches about the wide abuse of anti-depressants, informing them that some states had reported more overdoses of anti-depressants in a one-year period than overdoses reported of either cocaine or heroin. The national agency asked the manufacturers of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and other such drugs to warn the users of these prescribed medicines about possible side effects, including further depression and suicidal tendencies. While there is no clear evidence that these drugs have actually caused suicide, there have been enough warning flags raised among users and their families to indicate the possibilities of such tragedies.

Please don’t be deceived by the attractive television advertisements that market all of these drugs to an eager public. At what cost do we venture into this jungle of potential misery?
The authors of this monthly column, Ted G. Stone and Philip D. Barber, are ministry partners. They are both ordained Southern Baptist ministers who speak in churches across the country and write books and articles concerning the solution of America’s drug problem. Contact them at Ted Stone Ministries, P.O. Box 1397, Durham, N.C. 27702. They will be speaking: April 4 at First Baptist Church of White Settlement, Fort Worth, Texas; April 9-11 at White Lake (N.C.) Baptist Church; and April 18 at Woodlawn Baptist Church of Conover, N.C. (a.m. service), Fairview Baptist Church of Statesville, N.C. (p.m. service).

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  • Ted G. Stone and Philip D. Barber