One more of the many crazy results of the idiotic “war on drugs” is that we have to pay lots of money for chemicals that actually cost next to nothing. For example, adding up time and money spent on health insurance, physicians, and pharmacies, taking care of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is plainly not a viable option for many poorer people or those with a tight schedule, say single mothers taking care of their kids while having a job. Nobody gets a year’s worth of medication; you have to go at least every month again or more frequently, especially in case of ADHD medicines, so to feed your doctor and the pharmacist. Got insurance?
ADHD is not just the personal issue of those afflicted, because untreated ADHD often leads to poor performance, sexually unsafe behavior, and even criminal behavior, so this is an important public health issue. The underlying reason is that the frontal cortex of many ADHD sufferers is looking for stimulation where ever it can to “wake itself up”. This is why stimulants like amphetamine are successful in treating ADHD.
Medicines that can help, like methamphetamine, have been already developed about a century ago. As far as medicines go, these are extremely simple ones. You can cook methamphetamine from cheap ingredients in your kitchen, but you risk being put into jail for longer times than murderers for doing so.
These chemicals do not cost more than milk powder. A year's worth of medicine, that is 365 days times about 60mg, thus a mere 22 grams, is actually perhaps worth five to ten US dollars. This is probably overestimated: Go look into a 99 cent store and see what you can buy there, 30 pills a bottle for 99 cents – much more difficult to synthesize chemicals like diphenhydramine. The “war on drugs” ensures that poor people are effectively denied health care.
The implications are diverse and reach far beyond the repercussions mentioned above. There is racism involved: making a single first visit to his doctor, a white middle class guy like me may get a prescription for a month of 60mg of amphetamine salts daily. A black person is quickly suspected of “drug seeking behavior” and may well be served, if at all, with a sustained release version of methylphenidate (e.g. Ritalin) instead. Sustained release of stimulants often brings about difficulties with falling asleep at night. This can directly worsen the problem and often also leads into a dependence on sleep aids, which in turn increase the need to add more stimulant in the morning, and so on.
Many who cannot get the medication although they are able to afford it, self-medicate, which means buying methamphetamine in form of speed on the street. The money gained from this funds drug cartels and has devastated Mexico for instance, to name just one country.
What can scientists and rational lay people practically do to help out, given the utter stupidity of politicians and the wider public? For a long time now, we have tried explaining that the drug-war is one of the most destructive endeavors in society - worse than all actual wars combined. But little changed.
Let us use citizen science to decrease the profits of drug-cartels quite a bit with a partial solution that would not even pose too much of a risk to the people in need of help, even if prohibition should remain. It should reduce the problematic to the same level on which cannabis resides nowadays: Cannabis is still illegal to grow in most places, but as a patient, you do not need to grow very much, it is rather cheap, and most importantly, drug cartels cannot reap nearly as much profit from growing marihuana than from synthesizing methamphetamine.
Here is the idea and for now I just wait for the comments which will try to convince us that amphetamine is somehow more dangerous than alcohol or more addictive than coffee and nicotine, and that it would trigger the decline of civilization if we give it away cheaply.
The science is out there! Go inform yourself.