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Adderall: One family's Anguish

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Chuck and Cheryl Allen's 14-year-old son died September 23rd, 2000. Chris died in his sleep from "natural causes" but the coroner did not rule out the possibility of Adderall being the cause of his heart failure. "People need to know about this substance and kids shouldn't die from heart attacks," says Cheryl Allen.

Although Chris had a form of muscular dystrophy, the neurologist had recently given him a clean bill of health. "His doctor said that he would live a long and prosperous life despite his muscular dystrophy, or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)," says Cheryl. "Two weeks after his visit to the doctor I went into his room around 10 a.m. to wake him — he didn't usually sleep that late, but I knew that he had been re-doing his memento scrapbook the night before."

"I went in his room and picked up his scrapbook stuff from the floor and had a weird feeling that something was wrong. I turned him over and he was cold. Then I screamed and my mother and Chuck ran into the room," says Cheryl.

They took Chris down to the living room and Cheryl performed mouth-to-mouth, in the vague hope that he could be revived. "Chuck called 911 and Jeff, my next door neighbour, was also there, he ran over when he heard me screaming. Jeff told me it was too late."

The fire department came first (they were just a few doors away) followed by the ambulance. It seemed like a long time to Cheryl but it was only minutes. "Everything was in slow motion," says Cheryl. The firemen asked Cheryl to leave the room while they tried to revive him but they knew it was too late. "They came over and said there was nothing more they could do," says Chuck.

The Allen's didn't know that Chris had a heart attack until the autopsy came back, about six months later, stating that he had cardiac dysrhythmia, an abnormality in his heart rate. "I thought he was on drugs, I had no idea why my son died," says Cheryl. Chuck talked to the coroner, who told him that the medication Chris took may have been the cause. "The coroner did not rule out that fact."

"When we finally got the autopsy report it had seemed like an eternity [since Chris's death]," says Cheryl. Around that same time, she read an article about Adderall in her local newspaper, the Arizona Republic, and how it had been pulled off the market in Canada.

"I freaked out, I never really thought a prescribed drug could mean life or death. I didn't realize that people, especially young people, could die from this drug," says Cheryl.

Chris had been taking Adderall for about six months before his death. Because it is a controlled substance, Cheryl had to get her doctor's approval each month before getting more. Also, Chris had to undergo an EKG before he began taking the drug, and another EKG three months later. " I guess when he had to undertake EKG's I should have realized how serious it was. If I knew [the consequences] I never would have given it to him," says Cheryl.

Adderall helped Chris to have a normal life for a short while. His ADHD was in check and he was back in regular classes at school. But he had lost his appetite and had lost a lot of weight — another side effect. "Just a few days after Chris died I got a call from the doctor's office, reminding Chris to come in for another EKG appointment," says Cheryl. "The psychiatrist called right back and was completely shocked... It was too painful for me to talk to him." He had prescribed Adderall to Chris. "I didn't feel like I should sue doctors. I just wanted my son back."

"There are probably a lot of people out there like me who have lost a child and don't realize it could be due to a drug like Adderall. We think we are alone, but we need to communicate with each other. We don't want anyone to lose their child and right now drug companies are getting away with murder," says Cheryl Allen.

For more information on Adderall's side effects, visit [the internet drug index]



Posted by

My son is 9 yrs old with a form of muscular dystrophy-it's been 6yrs and drs still are unsure. I received clearance from his cardiologist before I decided to start him on Adderall. I am very weary of him being on it. I just feel uneasy. But now after reading this story, I am going to take stop. I didn't feel good yesterday watching the side effects and still didn't today. Thank you for making awareness about this.

Posted by

I would really like to get in touch with this family in the story as I have had a similar situation with my husband and Adderall. Please contact me.


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