Carrie Russell apparently thought little of shipping her Adderall to Japan before moving there to teach English. But Japanese police saw it differently, arresting the 26-year-old American last month for allegedly smuggling illegal amphetamines into Japan, the Oregonian reports. "We're left in a state of disbelief," says her dad, a Portland teacher. "We would never imagine something like this assaulting us from a civilized country like Japan." But Adderall is strictly illegal there, and police can hold Russell for up to 23 days without charging her. Meanwhile, her family, US politicians, and even her doctor are trying to get her out of a possible years-long prison sentence—for carrying a drug that's one of America's most widely prescribed, NPR reports.
Trouble is, Japan's drug laws are among the world's toughest. The country routinely announces busts of amphetamines, which Yakuza crime syndicates smuggle into Japan for those who pull long hours, like white-collar workers, students, and truck drivers. Another problem: Russell's mom sent her the prescription in an old Tylenol bottle, which created the appearance of smuggling. She says she did it to ward off thieves and avoid identifying Russell's illness—attention deficit disorder—in a country where mental illness is stigmatized. But warnings against taking Adderall to Japan do exist online, and so far Japanese authorities haven't budged. "She made a mistake," her stepfather wrote Japanese prosecutors. "Carrie has been humiliated and punished enough for that mistake, which she will never make again." (A tourist was once jailed in Dubai after reporting a rape.)