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Drug Abusers Can't Learn From Experience

If Speed, Cocaine Handcuff Brain, What About Stimulant ADHD Drugs?

Stimulant ADHD Drugs continued...

"Each of these drugs affects different memory systems -- and some of these effects are very counterintuitive," Silva tells WebMD. "It is difficult to say whether the findings with amphetamines and cocaine will be the same with Ritalin. These drugs don't affect single systems. They affect a multitude of memory systems. So these effects may very well be specific to each person or each population."

It's exactly this complexity that Kolb worries about.

"Drugs that are stimulants -- and other drugs as well -- are not benign in their long-term effects," he says. "There may be interactions with learning we need to worry about.

"There is a tendency for people to think that drugs like Ritalin aren't a big deal. And if you have a kid who is tearing the house apart, you don't want to abandon this drug if it's the only thing that makes the kid's life livable. But often it's given because a parent or school has a low tolerance for disruptive behavior. Those are the situations where the ADHD drugs might be used too freely."

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