Lindsay Lohan Wants Out From Betty Ford Center: “I Need My Adderall”

The Lindsay Lohan saga continues…

As you may recall, Lindsay pleaded no contest in March to reckless driving and lying to police. As part of the plea agreement, she was ordered to 90 days in a locked hospital rehab facility.

She then decided not to show up at the Morningside Recovery in Newport Beach, just as her attorney was telling the judge that she was already admitted there.

Lindsay finally checked into the Betty Ford Center last Thursday, but is now threatening to leave because they have taken away her beloved Adderall pills. Lindsay claims that she takes the pills for her attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As she told Piers Morgan last month:

I have ADD. I can’t stand still. So I take Adderall for that, it calms me. I know people who take it to stay up, or girls who take it to supposedly stay slim because it kills your appetite. But I eat all the time. I just take it to stay calm. It works well for me.

Doctors at the Betty Ford Center have evaluated Lindsay, and determined that there are other medications that can be used. Their policy is not to used Adderall on patients older than 15 years old because of its potential for addiction.

There is little chance that Judge Jim Dabney will dismiss the opinions of the experts at the facility and let her leave.

What is Adderall?

Adderall is a psychostimulant medication that contains four forms of amphetamine. It is used for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.   ADHD is characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that is more frequently displayed and more severe than is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development.  For many individuals, ADHD symptoms improve during adolescence or as age increases, but the disorder can persist into adulthood. In the United States, ADHD is diagnosed in an estimated 8 percent of children ages 4–17 and in 2.9–4.4 percent of adults.

How Do Prescription Stimulants Affect the Brain?

ecstasy 11All stimulants work by increasing dopamine levels in the brain—dopamine is a brain chemical (or neurotransmitter) associated with pleasure, movement, and attention. The therapeutic effect of stimulants is achieved by slow and steady increases of dopamine, which are similar to the natural production of the chemical by the brain. The doses prescribed by physicians start low and increase gradually until a therapeutic effect is reached.

However, when taken in doses and routes other than those prescribed, stimulants can increase brain dopamine in a rapid and highly amplified manner—as do most other drugs of abuse—disrupting normal communication between brain cells, producing euphoria, and increasing the risk of addiction.

Why and How Are Prescription Stimulants Abused?

Stimulants have been abused for both “performance enhancement” and recreational purposes (i.e., to get high).

They suppress appetite (to facilitate weight loss), increase wakefulness, and increase focus and attention. The euphoric effects of stimulants usually occur when they are crushed and then snorted or injected.

The dramatic increases in stimulant prescriptions over the last 2 decades have led to their greater availability and increased risk for abuse.  Because they are perceived by many to be generally safe and effective, prescription stimulants, such as Concerta or Adderall, are increasingly being abused for nonmedical conditions or situations. The practice is occurring among some academic professionals, athletes, performers, older people, and both high school and college students. Such nonmedical use poses potential health risks, including addiction, cardiovascular events, and psychosis.

What Adverse Effects Does Prescription Stimulant Abuse Have on Health?

  • Stimulants can increase blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature, and decrease sleep and appetite, which can lead to malnutrition and its consequences.
  • Repeated use of stimulants can lead to feelings of hostility and paranoia.
  • At high doses, they can lead to serious cardiovascular complications, including stroke.
  • Addiction to stimulants is also a very real consideration for anyone taking them without medical supervision. This most likely occurs because stimulants, when taken in doses and routes other than those prescribed by a doctor, can induce a rapid rise in dopamine in the brain. Furthermore, if stimulants are used chronically, withdrawal symptoms—including fatigue, depression, and disturbed sleep patterns—can emerge when the drugs are discontinued.

For more information, you can go to the Resounding Health Casebook on the topic.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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