Prescription stimulants: controversies and 'miracles'

- An estimated 1 in 10 children in the United States have been diagnosed with ADHD, according to Dr. Matthew Lorber, a psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital. But he says ADHD, commonly called by its former name ADD, can be easily treated.

Lorber says prescription stimulants can "work miracles" for ADHD patients. He says Adderall, one brand of stimulant, can help with the impulsiveness, high energy, or short attention span ADHD patients may face. After a recent New York Times article discussing Adderall's dangerously addictive nature, Lorber wants to set the record straight about these pills.

"They help with focus, they help with concentration, they help with organization," he says. "They affect a part of the brain, the front of the brain, it's called the frontal cortex and it's almost like the office manager of the brain."

But when Adderall is taken in high doses, or by someone who doesn't have ADHD, it can become dangerous. Lorber says it can cause severe irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, and sleep and appetite problems.

The doctor says young children who have ADHD should take Adderall. But for adults it can actually be more beneficial to be off the drug in order for them to become more successful, he says.

Entrepreneur Brian Robinson has ADHD and he says he definitely agrees it is better as an adult to be off the drug. But Robinson says it has been a long journey to success. He was diagnosed with ADHD when he was 6, and had been prescribed stimulants for years. His experience with Adderall was so bad-he wrote a memoir called "Madd Mann" in 2010. He says he got addicted to Adderall. Robinson says he became a better student, but the rest of his life felt like it was fading away.

More than 16 million prescriptions were written for stimulants, including Adderall, in the past year in the country, Dr. Lorber says. His biggest piece of advice: only take the drug if you have ADHD and see positive results. Also make sure a doctor always oversees your usage. 

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