DEA fuels moral panic over ADHD meds to justify its failed drug war

The DEA's scare tactics likening Adderall prescriptions to the opioid epidemic betrays its addiction to manufacturing drug panics to protect its authority amid the drug war's failures.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has found a new bogeyman to justify its failed prohibitionist crusade — prescription medication for people with ADHD. In a doomsday rant reeking of hypocrisy and disinformation, a DEA official likened rising Adderall prescriptions to the beginnings of the opioid epidemic.

Matthew Strait, a DEA deputy, claims stimulant prescriptions are skyrocketing due to shady online marketplaces and telehealth providers exploiting the "mental health crisis." He draws parallels to overprescription of opioids, saying "we're at the precipice of our next drug crisis."

However, as Bloomberg reports, "People who legitimately need prescription stimulants generally don't get addicted to them, said David Goodman, a psychiatrist and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. And if they stop using a prescription stimulant, they don't go through withdrawal in the same way they would after stopping an opioid, he said."

The DEA's hand-wringing over Adderall exemplifies its counterproductive approach to mitigating the harms of drug abuse. For over 50 years it has enabled and encouraged illicit drug markets to thrive in the first place. Prohibition enriches violent cartels by incentivizing concentrated drugs like fentanyl that are easier to smuggle. As one former DEA agent admitted, "The drug war is a game" the DEA cannot win and doesn't want to win. DEA agents are reckless cowboys who cozy up to drug cartels and become indistinguishable from the drug kingpins they pretend to oppose. From Salon:

Victory [in the war on drugs] would also mean less opportunity for the DEA to skim off millions of dollars via drug money laundering schemes, such as in 2015, when a Justice Department report revealed that DEA agents were attending lavish sex parties funded by Colombian drug cartels. José Irizarry, a disgraced former DEA agent now serving a 12-year federal prison sentence after confessing to involvement in the scheme, told the Associated Press (AP) last year that DEA agents are well aware they cannot make a dent in the drug trade.

"The drug war is a game," Irizarry told the AP. "It was a very fun game that we were playing."

Rather than policing victimless crimes, the federal government should focus on harm reduction — treating addiction as a health issue, not criminalizing it. But that would undermine the DEA's authority and budget. So they resort to fearmongering and scapegoating prescription stimulants while ignoring their own role in perpetuating drug crises.

And let's not forget that the War on Drugs started because Nixon hated Black people and Vietnam war protestors. Here's what John Ehrlichman, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Richard Nixon, said about the reasons for the establishment of the DEA:

"The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news."

"Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did," he concluded, according to Baum.

Matthew Strait's dire Adderall warnings are just the DEA's latest self-serving propaganda to protect their bureaucratic fiefdom — at society's expense.

Previously: The DEA seized an innocent man`s life savings without charging him with a crime