Dear Straight Talk: After reading the warning signs of Adderall abuse in your column (March 19), I’m 99 percent sure my older brother is on Adderall or something similar. He’s paranoid about his grades being perfect so he can get into a top college.
Our parents just think he studies very hard; however, we share a room so I know he often stays up most of the night studying. Sometimes all night. He also acts very hyper. When he does try to sleep, he tosses and turns and talks about school in his sleep — all of which makes me lose sleep as well. His appetite has changed, too.
He barely eats and has lost a lot of weight. It’s not so obvious when he’s dressed, but seen in his underwear, he’s wasting away. I’m really concerned. I don’t want to go to our parents and get him in trouble, though, since I’m sure he’s getting whatever it is illegally at school. Help! — Concerned Sister, La Habra
Taylor, 16, Santa Rosa: Confronting him may just make him hide things. Don’t put all the worry on your shoulders. Enlist a parent or adult who will help. Your brother may be upset now, but he will thank you later.
Colin, 19, Whittier: Your description definitely sounds like substance abuse. However, I always warn people to be very sure before dragging somebody through what might be a crazy allegation. Go to a higher authority. Make sure whoever that is will help your brother, not persecute him. Honestly, even if he isn’t abusing something, he needs psychological help. People stress out about school way more than they should. Society pushes this stupid propaganda that if you don’t excel academically, you’re condemned to poverty. It’s completely false. I’m not saying disregard schoolwork, I’m saying don’t disregard life for an unrealistic GPA.
Brandon, 21, Mapleton, Maine: If this was my sister, I would just blow the whistle and have her drug-tested. I’d rather see her shamed into cleaning up than become a prostitute or junkie. You have an obligation to your brother. You MUST pressure your parents into fixing this ASAP! What I know about Adderall is how addictive it is to those abusing it. Today’s “gateway drug” isn’t marijuana, it’s these prescription drugs. Their temporary “great attributes” make you susceptible to cocaine or meth down the road — which are touted similarly. If your brother is cornered, there’s a 50 percent chance he’ll quit or get rehab to quit. The other 50 percent is that he’ll dodge getting help and keep using. Your parents need to stay focused on this!
Dear Concerned Sister: Nobody likes to be the fink, but when someone is in serious trouble, you do it. Plus, if you don’t tell, who will? Probably nobody. I agree that it sounds like he’s using Adderall — and that he is addicted and taking dangerously high doses. Fate has put this in your court and if you do nothing and something bad happens, you’ll never forgive yourself. Think of it this way: You’re not getting him IN trouble. You’re getting him OUT of trouble. Please don’t worry about the law; they are not interested in cases like this.
Showing your parents this column will be the most effective way to communicate the problem. If necessary, tell them anonymously, but don’t waste any more time. (I concur with Taylor and do not recommend going to your brother first. It could cause him to cloak his behavior and/or you to remain silent.) Your brother will love you again eventually — quite soon, from what I keep hearing. And you’ll be able to sleep again — for two reasons. — Lauren
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