Ritalin: No Quick Fix

Ritalin
 
Recently ST reported that there's been a raise in students faking Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms so they can get their hands on a drug that can help them improve their concentration. 
 
Students seeking to boost their concentration for late night cram sessions have turned to Ritalin as a quick booster. Ritalin, a drug commonly prescribed to the ADHD afflicted, works by stimulating the production of dopamine, the brain chemical involved with motivation - and helps them to tune out distracting white noise and focus on the task at hand: Studying for exams. Ritalin is now apparently viewed as a better alternative to coffee and energy drinks like Red Bull for students looking to pull all night cram sessions.
 
Ritalin abusers turn to the drug as an easy solution over learning self discipline and time management skills. There's also the kiasu perception within Singaporean students that anything less than an A is a failure. This can create immense pressure for anyone to take short cuts towards grade pursuits. 
 
And that's the worrying part because such drug seeking behavior will often result in drug abuse. Student abusers of Ritalin looking for that quick boost in their cramming seem to be ignorant of the adverse side effects of Ritalin usage which include: Appetite loss, Depression, Dyskinesia (uncontrollable tics), Mania, Irritability, Psychosis (symptomed by hallucinations and paranoia) and Palpitations (irregular heart beat). 
 
Few Ritalin abusers seem to know or care that popping that wonder pill to help them read their textbooks in record time, also puts them at risk of a heart attack or pushing them over the edge of sanity. 
 
Most of all abusers forget that Ritalin is meant to be a medicine consumed by people with a real medical problem: ADHD is a medical condition, so if a doctor (in Singapore it's most likely a psychiatrist) diagnoses you with it you can get a prescription for Ritalin. 
 
Which raises a few questions: Ritalin is supposed to be an extremely controlled drug in Singapore, so how are abusers able to convince a qualified experienced psychiatrist to prescribe the drug to drug seeking students? Ritalin is supposed to be taken in conjunction with counseling as the ADHD patient learns to better manage their ADHD and adjust their lifestyle. So are these student abusers also undergoing counseling? If so how are they able to fool experienced counselors?  And is the fear of failure so bad to make students would really consider a B a failing grade? 
 
There needs to be a concentrated effort by society to educate students on why Ritalin abuse is bad for them. Even more important is that we need to learn as a society that it is okay to get the occasional B grade. We need to learn that no matter what people say or whomever we get compared to, there is no shame in feeling proud of ourselves after putting our best foot forward. It's not enough that the law makes it difficult for anyone to get their hands on Ritalin, we as a society also need to know and understand why abusing the drug as a means to an end is bad. Because in the process we will end up learning some valuable life skills and come out for the better of it.
 

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