A songwriting competition for teens, hosted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is accepting entries of original songs and music videos about the benefits of a drug-free lifestyle. The winner gets $500 and a trip backstage at the 2012 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles to watch a rehearsal. “The quality of last year’s entries was so impressive that the contest is launching earlier this year to give more students a chance to participate,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow. This is the second year of the competition; last year’s winner was “Drug Free State of Mind,” a rap song by Daevion Caves and Jordan Earle Atkins of Alton, Ill. Entries are due by Oct. 10; the contest is open to teens ages 14 to 18. More details are available on the National Drug Facts Week site.
It seems premature to be “remembering” Ritalin, considering that at least one in every 10 11-year-old boys in the United States takes it or an equivalent drug, according to pediatrician Lawrence Diller in his book. However, his point isn’t to bury Ritalin but to reconnect with 11 former patients, six of whom he profiled in his 1998 book, “Running on Ritalin,” to see how they’re doing. The news is mixed: There’s a counselor, an artist, a BMW repairman and a person who did some jail time. In the first book, Diller revealed his conflicted view of drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: He questioned the burgeoning use of stimulants among children but acknowledged that he prescribed them nearly every day. “Remembering Ritalin” could be especially valuable for parents of children with ADHD who are deciding whether to medicate their children.