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Viewpoint: When Legal Drug Use Gets Taken Too Far

Some students don’t understand the consequences of abusing prescription drugs.

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According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “one out of four American families has a relative who has a mental illness.” And according to U.S Food & Drug Administration,  there are some FDA approved drugs, including Aceon, Celexa, and Ritalin, that are distributed legally for the treatment of  certain mental health conditions.

But unfortunately, there is a phenomenon of  legal drug abuse among college students. Ritalin is widely distributed between young peers, used especially for studying and test-taking. Distributing drugs to people who were not prescribed them is illegal,  but there are students who are simply addicted. Although not in the media spotlight, this epidemic is still as serious as ever.

Addiction to Ritalin and other prescription medications can lead to a deterioration in overall mental health, and even permanent brain damage if used in excess. The physical side effects include hallucinations, tremors, and seizures, resulting in hospitalization.

Many students who overdose are sent to mental treatment facilities, like this one in Westchester, New York. These facilities commonly mistake the abuse of Ritalin as attempted suicide, locking patients in rooms and ousting them if they fail to kick the habit. Those who are “badly behaved” are sentenced to a white padded room, an archaic practice that dehumanizes people. Certain facilities are also unsanitary and uncomfortable.

There are better resources available for mental health patients and addicts. But the existence of outdated methods in facilities like the one in Westchester do nothing but make the epidemic worse.

I am a student at Manhattanville College. I will be graduating next January. I am majoring in digital media.

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