Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia) - Oct. 22, 2006
GIVING Ritalin to children could be breeding a generation of junkies, new research has found.
Children taking pyschostimulant drugs, including Ritalin, may be more susceptible to amphetamine addiction later in life, the research shows.
The study by Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute reveals drugs can wire the brain for addiction.
Alcohol and drug addiction researcher Dr Andrew Lawrence said the study found that amphetamines given to adolescent rats put them at greater risk of amphetamine addiction in adulthood.
It also found that adult rats became possibly more susceptible to heart attack as a result of the reuse of amphetamines.
It has been reported that children as young as five suffered heart attacks and strokes after taking Ritalin -- an amphetamine-like prescription stimulant.
The drug -- taken by 50,000 Australian children -- is commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It has a similar chemical structure to cocaine.
``We found that when a teenage rat is given amphetamines, and then after abstinence has the drug again as an adult, they have a more sensitised reaction -- opening the door for addiction,'' Dr Lawrence said.
As well as activating the brain's reward system, which is involved in addiction, amphetamines affect brain regions that control heartbeat, blood pressure and temperature.
``By effecting basic brain functions, amphetamines may expose experimenting teenagers to increased risk of heart attack if they re-use the drug later in life,'' Dr Lawrence said.
Alcohol and amphetamine activate and sensitize the brains reward system, which is involved in addiction.