University of São Paulo: Drug to treat attention deficit disorder mixed with alcohol puts young people’s health at risk

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Authorized by Anvisa for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and, more recently, for binge eating, Venvanse has taken on a recreational role among young people and concerned health authorities. Venvanse is the trade name of an amphetamine-derived drug, lisdexamfetamine, which is controlled use and sold only with a doctor’s prescription.

Specialist in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto (FMRP) at USP, Professor Erikson Felipe Furtado warns about the dangers of indiscriminate use of the drug, whether to stay awake and euphoric at parties and events, or to increase the focus on specific tasks, increasing concentration.

As it is “a psychostimulant, which has a high risk of inducing dependence”, among others, Furtado says that the use of the drug should not be diverted from its original function, with risks for users, regardless of the effect sought.

Toxic acute effects
By associating Venvanse with alcohol, young people try to counterbalance the sedative effect of alcohol. Furtado clarifies that the psychostimulant can mask the tiredness of a long night of partying, “but that does not mean that there was no physical and mental exhaustion, the individual is having an energy expenditure and this will appear at some point”.

The desire to increase the sensory experience is also one of the main goals of these young people. The effects of alcohol with the stimulant can provide a greater feeling of euphoria. The doctor warns, however, that the combination can inhibit the unpleasant sensations resulting from the drink, preventing the user from noticing physiological signs that he has reached the limit.

In addition to these acute toxic effects, Furtado points to a double sensitization to the occurrence of dependence. “Each of these substances, both alcohol and lisdexamfetamine, can be addictive, but the two combined have an increased risk of addiction.”

Use implies risks
The specialist says that, even when there is a medical prescription, it is always necessary to follow up and monitor the patient. The use of amphetamine derivatives always implies a risk for the emergence of undesirable effects typical of this class of substance.

Furtado says that, when using this drug, there may be cardiovascular changes, metabolic and renal changes, changes in the normal functioning and regulation of appetite and sleep, as well as in the level of vigilance, implying in the long term, in the deregulation of the body’s functions.

In addition, changes in mood and cognitive functions, such as impulse control and mental processes of reasoning and judgment, may occur. Furtado warns that “people with emotional instability may be susceptible to a higher risk of changes in mood and severe mental symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.”

For those patients with a history of psychosis, such as schizophrenia and bipolar, their conditions may be precipitated or triggered by substance use. In the same way, the famous nervous tics can be exacerbated or even appear in the individual who was asymptomatic.

Easy access
Despite being a black stripe drug, with controlled use, which requires a prescription to be purchased, these young people can easily access the drug. Furtado explains that this is a public health problem, which collides with social customs and constitutes an illicit act, against health and police surveillance norms.

The illegal entry of the product into the country, the falsification of prescriptions and the simulation of health problems are the main ways of accessing the drug, in the expert’s opinion.

To combat improper use and sale, Furtado believes that bringing information to this specific group about side effects, fighting fake news, may be the best way. Being present on social media, where these young people are, is very important in spreading quality information. “It is entirely possible to have fun and have a pleasant, pleasant evening without using these substances”, says Furtado.

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