Elijah Hanson struggled with his mental health for years. The 21-year-old from Tacoma, Washington was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder and was receiving treatment at a local behavioral health clinic. According to therapy notes over the years, he was desperate to better understand himself and his feelings.
His mother, Kelly Rasmussen, told CBS News, “It was him and I who were in this big fight, constantly seeking out therapists, psychiatrists, anybody he could get to help him.”
Earlier this year, Hanson followed an increasingly familiar path when online mental health care providers were flourishing: She signed up with an online provider called Cerebral. As demand for such services grows, CBS News is paying attention to a growing segment of the mental health market that operates online – and is one of the most prominent players in that space.,
Hanson told Cerebral that she needed help for ADHD — Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder — even though she had never been diagnosed before. He was able to secure a prescription for the stimulant Adderall without any personal consultation, even though, as his brother Ethan Hanson later alleged, he only intended to abuse the drug.
Ethan Hanson said, “He lied and said he had ADHD.”
According to his brother, Elijah Hanson lied to Cerebral because he wanted Adderall, a prescription stimulant that is sometimes abused to get high. Ethan Hanson said that both he and his brother had previously abused the drug.
Soon, his family said, Elijah Hanson lost weight and became isolated in his room.
“You could definitely say he was taking way too much. And he was not in his right mind at all,” his brother said.
His mother believes that Elijah Hanson’s abuse of Adderall exacerbated his mental health issues. On June 25, she returned home to an unimaginable sight: Elijah Hanson lying dead on the kitchen floor. He had found a gun in the house and recorded himself playing Russian roulette.
Before the pandemic, medical providers were not allowed to prescribe drugs like Adderall to patients without seeing the patient in person. Adderall is a controlled substance and is in a class of drugs strictly controlled by the Drug Enforcement Administration because it has a “high potential for abuse.”
“These are dangerous drugs that are controlled for a good reason,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an expert on prescribing, told CBS News.
Distribution was restricted under the Ryan Haight Act, a 2008 law named for an 18-year-old boy who died of an overdose of drugs obtained online. Medical professionals are required to see patients in person before prescribing any controlled substance. But because of the pandemic, the law was temporarily lifted, meaning those drugs can now be prescribed through online, virtual appointments — something Kolodny finds risky.
“Without the need for a face-to-face visit, you may see businesses take advantage of the ease in which these drugs can be prescribed,” Kolodny said.
Data shows that the US saw a 15% increase in Adderall prescriptions for adults aged 22 to 44 from 2020 to 2021. Online drugs may be partly to blame.
Cerebral is one of several online mental health companies that grew in popularity during the pandemic and helped meet the growing demand for virtual care. But some experts fear that online providers make it too easy for people to abuse drugs like Adderall.
Cerebral’s records show that the first doctor Elijah Hanson met on stage in February refused to give him a stimulant, considering him a “prescribing risk”. [a] controlled substance.” So Elijah Hanson created a new account in April and tried again. This time, a different Cerebral prescriber gave him Adderall. Records show that a family doctor later trusted the ADHD diagnosis made by Cerebral. While refilling Eliza Hanson’s prescription.
Rasmussen said, “I am outraged that this online platform just thinks that handing these drugs out to people… is okay. Because it is not.”
While Cerebral and others have urged the government to permanently drop the in-person visit requirement, the decision was made after the company stopped prescribing controlled substances to new patients, the company told CBS News in a statement. The company had a way of moving beyond liquidation. Pandemic exemptions that haven’t happened yet.
A spokesperson told CBS News, “Patients who were prescribed a controlled substance prior to May, as medically appropriate, have been taken off controlled substances or transferred to providers who provide these -person can provide care.” “To date, no regulator has accused the company or any practitioner of any wrongdoing or violation of any law.”
The company declined to comment on Elijah Hanson’s case. A spokesperson told CBS News, “While we can’t comment on specific customer cases, we can say that Cerebral has robust systems in place across the board, so that when we suspect drug-seeking behavior can be detected and intervened.
in oneEarlier this year with CBS News, Cerebral CEO Dr. David Mau defended the company’s prescribing practices after Cerebral confirmed it was the subject of a Justice Department investigation.
“We have really, really good clinical results when it comes to depression and anxiety and PTSD and ADHD, and even serious mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder,” Mou said. .
but in aBy CBS News, Cerebral founder Kyle Robertson — who was ousted by Cerebral’s board earlier this year — claims that some of the company’s key investors “push”[ed] For increased prescriptions of controlled substances like Adderall. Robertson alleged that a board member told him, “The easier you make it for people to obtain stimulants, the better it is for the business and its customers.”
The company told us that Robertson’s allegations are “categorically untrue.”
If you or someone you know is struggling, support is available 24-7 at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Simply call 988 or 1-800-273-8255. For more resources, Please click here,
If you would like to share your experience using online mental health services, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org,