Arianna's Call For Drug-Violence Investigation Never More Timely

Kelly Preston

Kelly Preston

 

Posted July 14, 2005 | 12:06 AM (EST)

Kirstie Alley and I recently supported 20 doctors from various health care fields, including family physicians, pediatricians, psychiatrists, researchers, nutritionists and surgeons in a letter to the FDA calling on it to strengthen its warnings on stimulants and antidepressants, especially when prescribed to children.

This was in response to the FDA’s recent warning that not only do antidepressants cause hostility and suicidal behavior in children, but also stimulant drugs [June 28 FDA advisory]. The doctors’ letter states: “We can no longer sit back and let the clock tick, waiting for more deaths, suicides or people driven to violent acts by psychotropic drugs. The FDA must continue to be vigilant, to root out other substances that have -- one way or the other -- slipped under the radar screen, and are now wreaking havoc with the nation’s youth.”

It’s timely, then, to review Arianna’s article four years ago entitled, “’P’ is for Preschoolers and Prozac,” when she called for an “ongoing investigation into the connection between outbreaks of violence and drugs such as Prozac and Luvox,” and that legislators should do so, “before our kids are turned into a troop of drugged-out zombies.”

Parents are still largely unaware that these drugs are turning kids into walking time bombs. Eight out of the last 13 school shooters were taking prescribed psychiatric drugs, and only now is the FDA investigating the fact these drugs can cause violence. Legislators are still not waking up to the need for investigation -- despite the Jeff Weise tragedy in March when the teen, after being prescribed an antidepressant, shot dead his grandparents and then classmates and school officials.

Now adding to the alarm bell we have the Partnership for a Drug Free America report that teens don’t consider these drugs dangerous because they are prescribed. However, the DEA classifies them in the same category of highly addictive drugs such as cocaine, opium and morphine. At least 10 percent of teens are abusing the stimulants, Ritalin and Adderall. A “troop of drugged-out zombies” is frighteningly real. (Watch for Lawrence Bender’s latest movie, Chumscrubber: Meet Generation Rx -- an accurate portrayal of the current epidemic of teen prescription drug abuse.)

The recent controversy over these drugs has also raised another important debate: that parents across America are administering them for conditions they have been led to believe are the result of a “chemical imbalance” in the brain or some sort of brain-based disorder. Yet, the medical doctors in their letter to the FDA make it clear that these “potentially harmful substances” are being prescribed for “disorders that have no neurobiological or physical cause.” Even the president of the APA, Steven Sharfstein, recently admitted that there is no "clean cut lab test" to determine a chemical imbalance can cause "mental illness." This has prompted concerns about the FDA’s drug approval process and why it approves so many psychiatric drugs for what is essentially behavioral control rather than treatment of medical illness.

Perhaps its time to add another “P” to Arianna’s original article title to reflect today’s current drug dilemma: “Preschoolers, Prozac and Pandora’s Box.” The lid is coming off to show these drugs are destroying our youth. Legislators take note: psychiatric drugs, their abuse, and drug-induced violence still needs the investigation Arianna called for in 2000.

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