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Elizabeth Wurtzel discusses 'More, Now, Again'

Elizabeth Wurtzel
Elizabeth Wurtzel  

(CNN) -- Elizabeth Wurtzel would seem like the kind of person who has it all. A talented writer, a graduate of Harvard, author of the bestsellers "Prozac Nation" and "Bitch," she's had a lot of success though only in her mid-30s.

But Wurtzel has struggled with depression (the topic of "Prozac Nation") and, in coping with her high-flying life, found herself addicted to several other drugs, from cocaine to Ritalin. Her new book, "More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction," chronicles her journey of understanding.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper talked with Wurtzel on "American Morning."

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We told you about a new study that reveals how Americans are over-medicating themselves with over-the-counter drugs, but abuse of prescription medicine is also a major problem in this country. In many cases, the drugs are used to help fight depression, drugs like Ritalin.

It is a subject our next guest is painfully familiar with. In an attempt to fight a bout with depression, author Elizabeth Wurtzel became addicted to Ritalin, and it is the subject of her new book, called "More, Now, Again: A Memoir of Addiction."

Elizabeth Wurtzel joins me now -- thanks very much about being with us.


COOPER: What do you want people to get out of the book?

WURTZEL: I think two things. I hope that even people who have not had these problems at all can read it and just, you know, enjoy it. Maybe that's not quite the right word.

But I also do think that there has not since the '70s, when "I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can" came out, which sort of revealed to people that Valium, which now we all know is addictive, could ruin your life. I don't think people know even about this [now].

COOPER: Did you know Ritalin was addictive when you were prescribed it?

WURTZEL: No idea. If I -- I think had I known what I know now, I might have been a lot more careful. I was certainly -- I've used, you know, street drugs, and I was much more careful with those because I knew they were dangerous.

COOPER: You were prescribed Ritalin by a doctor in pill form, and then you started crushing the pills and inhaling -- snorting, and that's actually how you became addicted, right?

WURTZEL: Right, [and] at the time, and even now, I thought well, wow, I must be the only person who has thought of this, but it turned out as I found out later that this is very commonly done by college students and high school ...

COOPER: Yeah, a lot of teenagers do it.

WURTZEL: Yeah, who are still on Ritalin after having been put on it as children.

COOPER: What surprised me is how easy it was to become addicted to Ritalin.

WURTZEL: It really is. I think because I thought it was safe, I thought well, if I take two pills when I'm supposed to take one, that's not so bad. And before you know it, it turns into eight pills, then 16, then I was eventually taking 40 a day.

COOPER: Ritalin is -- I mean, it does help many people. It is prescribed for a lot of children who have [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder], right?

WURTZEL: I think it is a very useful drug when prescribed normally and taken normally. I don't have any -- I mean, this is certainly what happened to me and what has happened to many people, but I don't think it's categorically bad.

COOPER: And the process of getting off Ritalin was, as you say, very difficult.

WURTZEL: Really difficult. I mean, I was in the hospital for four months. I mean, people can't believe that this is -- this really was something that was given to me under the -- with the best of intentions, and it really turned into a huge addiction that eventually extended to other drugs also.

But, I think as I said, had I had the information now that I have now, I would have been much more careful. You know, who thinks, you know?

COOPER: Elizabeth Wurtzel, that is all the time we have this morning, but the book is really, really strong. I really appreciate you coming in and telling us your story.

WURTZEL: Well, thank you.


• Wurtzel waxes powerful in 'Bitch'
April 22, 1998
• Review: 'Bitch'
April 22, 1998

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