Ritalin Nation: Are We Killing Our Children?

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Frohickey, Jun 15, 2004.

  1. Frohickey macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2003
    Ritalin Nation: Are We Killing Our Children?

    Methylphenidate, a schedule 2 substance, has a high potential for abuse and produces the same effects as cocaine or the amphetamines. Binge use, psychotic episodes, cardiovascular complications and severe psychological addiction have all been associated with methylphenidate.
    —U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Background Memo (2004)

    This year, approximately six million children—roughly one out of every eight—will take Ritalin for what is termed “attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder” (ADHD), a condition that was once labeled hyperactivity. However, the drugs that are prescribed for ADHD are cocaine-like stimulants. And according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the human nervous system cannot differentiate between cocaine, amphetamines and methylphenidate (Ritalin).

    Since ADHD hit the mainstream in the 1980s, prescriptions for Ritalin have skyrocketed. And over the past three years, there has been a 23 percent increase for all children, including those under 5 years of age. However, as the DEA reports, not only is Ritalin a dangerous narcotic, it also has numerous, troublesome side effects: difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, irritability, nervousness, stomach aches, headaches, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, ticks, hypersensitivity, anorexia, blood pressure and pulse changes, cardiac arrhythmia, anemia, scalp hair loss and toxic psychosis. Other rare side effects include abnormal liver function, cerebral arteritis, leucopenia and sometimes death.

    Recent evidence also ties Ritalin and other methylphenidate derivatives to abnormally violent behavior in the young people who take such drugs. For example, in 1998, 15-year-old Kip Kinkle of Oregon, after taking methylphenidate and Prozac, killed four people, including his own parents, and wounded 22 more. Eric Harris, one of the Columbine High School killers, masterminded the killing of 12 students and a teacher while on similar drugs. He and his partner then shot themselves.

    These and other violent killings by young students have now been linked to the burgeoning legalized prescription drug market that has invaded America’s public schools.

    Rod Matthews, a 14-year-old Massachusetts youth who had no history of violence but was placed on methylphenidate, soon developed extreme psychological problems. In October of 1986, Rod wrote: “My problem is I like to do crazy things. I’ve been lighting fires all over the place. Lately, I’ve been wanting to kill people I hate, and I’ve been wanting to light houses on fire. What should I do?” Shortly thereafter, Rod lured a fellow student into a forested area and beat the young man to death with a baseball bat. Tried as an adult and convicted of second-degree murder, Rod became the youngest inmate in the Massachusetts prison system. After he was arrested and taken off methylphenidate, however, his violent thoughts stopped.

    If Ritalin is so bad, why is it being used on schoolchildren? The sad fact is that our public schools and parents have been duped by the psychiatric and drug industries. “A quintessential truth was unearthed about the educational experience children encounter today,” write Thomas G. Whittle and Linda Amato in Freedom magazine (Spring 2004). “Psychotropic drug makers, parasitic on the school system, have created a lucrative market for their own enrichment by ‘pathologizing’ childhood behavior as mental disorders, with pseudo medical labels obediently supplied by the very psychiatrists who prosper from this corrupt arrangement.”

    It has been proven that Ritalin can cause especially severe reactions in children under six years of age and should not be used for this age group. Despite this fact, the number of stimulants for children aged two to four has increased 200 to 300 percent between 1991 and 1995.

    Another alarming fact has recently surfaced. Adolescents are increasingly giving and selling their Ritalin medication to schoolmates and friends who are taking it orally, crushing the tablets and snorting Ritalin powder like cocaine. It is no wonder, then, that Ritalin is often referred to as “Kiddie Cocaine.”

    Ritalin is also closely related to the illegal street drugs methamphetamine—street name “crystal meth.” Ironically, our society imprisons people for manufacturing drugs similar to the drugs physicians commonly prescribe to millions of our school children.

    But does Ritalin really help settle down hyperactive children? A comprehensive follow-up study at Montreal Children’s Hospital reveals that the behavior of hyperactive children did not differ significantly from the behavior of non-hyperactive children after taking Ritalin for five years. “Although it appeared that hyperactive kids treated with Ritalin were initially more manageable, the degree of improvement and emotional adjustment was essentially identical at the end of five years to that seen in a group of kids who had received no medication at all,” the report stated.

    And does taking Ritalin help our children academically? According to Dr. Mary Ann Block: “It may surprise many to know that studies have found that children who take amphetamine-type or other mind-altering drugs do not perform better academically. No studies indicate enhanced academic performance from these drugs.” In fact, academically, the schools are worsening. Despite ever-increasing sums spent on education and drugs for children, the U.S. literary rate plummeted from fifth in the world among nations in the 1960s to 49th by 1999, its lowest rating ever.

    What can we do? First, our government should immediately step in and place a moratorium on Ritalin and similar drugs. No child should be subjected to such medical and psychological abuse. This means our President and Congress should make Ritalin and related drugs the top priority in the so-called war on drugs. This will mean investigating those who advocate and profit from such drug-related activities. And, if need be, instead of the current policy of protecting the drug industry, some of these companies should be put out of business.

    Second, with very few exceptions, no one should force their child to take psychotropic drugs. In fact, it has been established that environmental toxins, mercury poisoning and allergies often affect behavior and academic performance and create the symptoms that are now called ADHD. Consult a physician before even considering such dangerous drugs.

    Third, do not allow your child to be threatened with a psychiatric label such as ADHD. He or she may merely be a normal hyperactive child or may be suffering from a learning problem or other non-drug-related problem.

    Finally, we as a nation must move away from the concept of drugs of any kind as an answer. By doing so, we have opened the door to manipulation by unscrupulous drug marketers who would dope us up or drug us for a profit. If we as a society really mean that we are anti-drug, then let it start at home and at school.


    In this instance, I agree with the author about the parasitic attitude of the drug company.
  2. andrewm macrumors regular

    Apr 2, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Am I the exception?

    Hi, Frohickey. You have just opened one heck of a can of worms there... the odds are that this will surge for days. :)

    Some people say that ADHD doesn't exist. I should respond that Yes, there's no scientifically and medically perfect point at which children can be diagnosed—thus making overdiagnosis a potential occurrence as the term 'ADHD' can be overzealously applied, thus masking perhaps a more serious diagnosis; or it could simply put a humiliating label on someone who's simply dynamic.

    I have a friend who was diagnosed early on as a likely candidate for ADHD. She was very dynamic and in-one's-face, but she became the Associated Student Body president at my high school and was accepted at Harvard University. Many people who have ADHD (if, that is, she was not falsely diagnosed) and do not take medications such as Ritalin, Concerta, or Adderal can lead productive lives.

    I, however, was not. Imagine a six-year-old who was always hitting his sister, blurting out often stupid, often inflammatory things in class, and just being all-around destructive. At age six I tried first caffeine pills, but they were not as effective as I'd have liked; my mother, a doctor, perceived some possible 'rebound' (and yes, I am aware that the existence of such a state is still debated) from Ritalin, and later we settled on Dexedrine for this. Dex worked perfectly and calmed me down, whilst maintaining a slim figure that allowed me to eat virtually whatever I wanted.

    Eventually we decided that it wasn't working as much as it could, and I went to Adderal, which is to my knowledge somewhat of a hybrid between Dexedrine and Ritalin, or something like that. It worked, but had some problems--at the dosage I needed I was jittery. Finally we tried Strattera, which is not a narcotic, and has none of the dangerous side effects attributed to methamphetamine (and cocaine? that was an interesting article). It's nonaddictive, even for those without ADHD. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for everyone.

    I agree that the drug companies have been a bit overzealous (to use that term again) in their marketing to parents, children, and doctors of the narcotic/amphetamine therapies. That signifies, however, neither that ADHD is solely a marketing gimmick, nor that the medications are completely ineffective.

    Yes, they don't work for some people. Yes, their use on children and adolescents means that it may become quite easy to crush a few to sniff with or sell to friends, much moreso than the (far more desirable) Oxycontin. But Yes, they worked for me—they helped me concentrate and be less impulsive, even though their undesirable side effects led me to choose an alternative medication. Perhaps my 'improvement and emotional adjustment after five years' (more like twelve, now) is unremarkable—but I'm off to the University of California, Los Angeles, come autumn, thanks some sense of prudence and the ability to do work and stay out of trouble. (And, truth be told—I still popped an occasional Adderal during my later high school years in order to focus when staying up all night to complete a project due the next day, or to focus harder for a test. Honestly, I hate the feeling of tiredness and hyperfocus, but sometimes it was the only way.)

    Just my $3.50 (seven bits—two simply weren't enough).

  3. idkew macrumors 68020


    Sep 26, 2001
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better
    I completely agree that we should stop drugging our children. Without a single doubt.

    I find it very sad that if your child is not doing as well in school as you would like, you go to the doctor and get him some narcotics. Yet, if your child decides to self medicate it is wrong.

    People seem to have forgotten that some kids simply are not the smartest. Some kids choose to not pay attention in school. Some kids are below average. Drugging them does not change it.

    I have a good friend who was drugged by his parents throughout school. I took his narcotics one day, and wow, I could concentrate. I was ready to arrange my socks. I wanted to do something constructive. I can't imagine how great a student I would have been if I could take drugs on a daily basis to force me to concentrate.

    Not only do I think drugging children is unethical, not to mention foolish, I also feel that the drugged children are like doped athletes. They now have an unfair advantage when competing against the drug free children.


    I am sure there are some true cases out there where children need some help. But, this blanket medication is wrong. This is synonomous to medicating every fat person in the US because they have have a thyroid problem. The overwhelming majority do not, but everyong still gets the pill.
  4. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

    Mar 28, 2003
    How'd I get here? How can I leave?
    Our modern society is very toxic to growing children. Unfortunately, our 'magic pill' society has even forsaken our children for the sake of convenience.
  5. Frohickey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2003
    I think that if your parents had family that lived in a farm, you would have not needed to have any drugs while growing up. I could you see, as a kid, waking up at the butt-crack of dawn, going out to milk the cows, feed the chickens, bring in the eggs, walk the horses, and then walking to school, taking classes, doing your homework, and going to bed, and doing it all over again.

    I bet that you would sleep good in the weekends.

  6. Santiago macrumors regular

    Jun 14, 2002
    Mountain View, California
    That sounds like a lot of conjecture but few real facts. With respect to personality-altering drugs "causing" abnormal behavior, remember that correlation does not imply causation. Until I see a rigorous scientific study showing that such drugs do in fact make problems worse, I am inclined to dismiss such claims as selective mentioning of incidents involving people who were already abnormal and potentially violent to start with, and thus prescribed drugs.

    As to actually prescribing drugs to treat personality problems, I am generally against that except in the most extreme of cases. I certainly would not be willing to take medications that affect who I am, as I view that as the most fundamental part of myself, and do not wish to be another person, even if that other person were theoretically happier.
  7. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    Sadly our whole culture has become very dependent on drugs. The no body is fault mentality. Lets not teach morals and responsibility, but use drugs.

    The drug companies want profit and more profit, so they advertise heavily. Drug companies want the patient to decide on drug choice, a person with no training at all. Just like the ones that make the commercials. It is very reminiscent of the way many past great societies went. :(
  8. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I needs my ritalin.

    I couldn't even read the article or that long post above (well, not the entire thing....sorry) because I'm not on it right now. I was diagnosed at age 19 after taking a test that lasted 10-12 hours. However, I know people who were diagnosed and they don't even remember how they were diagnosed. Really, they shouldn't have gotten it if all they have is a bit of difficulty once in a while. I can feel depressed, and show all signs of depression for an entire week or two, but that doesn't mean that I should take medication for it, and it doesn't mean that I suffer from depression. I'm just depressed.....if you know what I'm getting at. People shouldn't be taking pills for feelings or states that seem somewhat normal. If its long-term, then yeah, take ritalin, but I don't believe that anyone should take ritalin until they're over the age of 11 or so. A hyperactive 6 year old may be hyperactive due to the fact that he's 6.....nothing more.

    Sorry, but if a child truly suffers from ADD/ADHD, then they're at a disadvantage. The drugs only level the playing field. I would have failed out of Uni if I didn't take them. I still don't reeeeally take them because I don't like them (weight loss, change in personality...I'm too serious and calm and not myself), so I only take them when I have something important to do that day. I think it levels the playing field, nothing more. People who don't need them, but take them anyway, have an advantage.
  9. Frohickey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2003
    Apparently, people with ADHD like you, didn't need to have the playing field leveled. Apparently, genetics and evolution has already judged that you have an advantage in life... if not, your ADHD genes would not even be around.
  10. idkew macrumors 68020


    Sep 26, 2001
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better
    If I took adhd drugs, i guarentee i would have done better in school.

    why can't i just take them as a "performance enhancer"?

    after all, i would do better in school, so i must have something worng with me.
  11. rt_brained macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2002
    Unfortunately, even "normal hyperactive" children can, and often do, have difficulty maintaining focus while learning, yet inside they know they're just as smart as anyone in class.

    For those who don't understand this condition, imagine sitting at your desk with your whole body wrapped in a polyester straight jacket lined with hair and itching powder and you're strapped tightly down to a chair so you can't move a muscle. The TV is tuned to cartoons, the stereo tuned to rock music and you live next to the freeway. You're thirsty, but you can't drink and hungry, but can't eat. You're hot, sweaty, itchy and maybe you have to pee.

    Now sit still and read "War and Peace" front to back. Quietly. Sit still. Focus.

    Welcome to the torture of ADHD. Nothing but constant ***** distractions. Everything you hear, see or smell is a distraction. Every distraction begs your immediate attention. You read the same paragraph three times and it still doesn't sink in. C'mon, just 35 pages to go. What am I reading again? Oh yeah. Wow, this is a thick book...how many pages does it have? Okay, next paragraph...Hey, someone wrote in this book and erased it! Arg! My leg itches! Where was I? Why is this stupid chapter so long? I'm thirsty.

    Uh-huh. Those who are afflicted with medical problems just need to learn to deal with it. Accept the fact that you'll never be as successful in life while others around you thrive and pass you by, because we all have our own little "problems" in life, right?

    Adderall changed my life for the better. And a little responsibility and self-awareness at times helps where the Adderall doesn't. But, it's a balance. And one doesn't work very well without the other.

    Perhaps one day, in your Utopian prescription-free world, you'll be diagnosed with cancer. And your doctor will suggest "thinking good thoughts" three times daily.
  12. rosalindavenue macrumors 6502a


    Dec 13, 2003
    Virginia, USA
    Consider the Source

    Take a look at the parent article. Its written by Mr. Rutherford, a "Constitutional Attorney" who runs The Rutherford Institute , which is roughly a Right wing Christian ACLU. They do things like sue behalf of students who want more prayer and religion in schools, on behalf of judges who want to post the ten commandments, or on behalf of pro-life phamacists who think they shouldn't have to sell morning after pills. They also been involved in attempts to prevent the National Endowment for the Arts from funding art it viewed as "blasphemous"; to deny gay students the right to organize student groups on campus; to defend Operation Rescue; and to uphold a Louisiana law enabling the teaching of "creation science" in public schools.

    I have to think that there are better sources of medical opinions, such as physicians and medical studies, rather than right-wing gasbags.

    BTW, I happen to generally agree that kids are overdiagnosed and overmedicated, and I think that this is a worthy topic of discussion-- but we should probably not be overly influenced on it by gay-bashing lawyers.
  13. idkew macrumors 68020


    Sep 26, 2001
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better
    Ad hominem
  14. Frohickey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2003
    The ones that want to take ADHD drugs as an educational enhancer should pick up the tab on their own.

    The ones that are prescribed ADHD drugs in school should pick up the tab on their own.

    I don't want to pay for your drugs. My money should pay for my drugs. :p :eek: :D
  15. TrenchcoatJedi macrumors member


    Jun 17, 2004
    You've brought up an amazing topic here. Ritalin, Concerta, methylphenidrate et al. are entirely too overprescribed that it makes me sick. It's a shame and it touches on so many areas.

    First and most importantly, it decries the death of parenting in this country. When I was growing up, my family would eat dinner together each night. No one even thought about skipping it. It was unwritten law. Today (and I'm not going to get into reasons), families struggle to have one meal together a day. Parenting is going down the drain. Instead of parents reading to their kids, they get stuck infront of televisions and are allowed to choke down all the high-calorie foods they want, effectivley creating a nation of obese and brainless children. No independent thought is created, no mental challenges, no engagement, nothing. We are letting the intellect of our children languish to half hour comedies and other assorted nonsense. Our culture of bigger, faster, better, FOR ME ME ME and NOW! has made parenting inconvenient to fit into one's PDA. Parents become fed up when their children don't sprout verses of Shakespeare immediatley and give up. Intelligence is like a flower that needs to be watered, fertilized and tended to until it blossoms. It needs to be bred into these children. These drugs have no effect on intelligence. I know every parent fervently believes that their kid is a genius but, c'mon. When I get my medical degree, I will honestly tell parents that their kid is a ****tard if it's the truth. Ethics be damned.

    So if parents don't have time to read a simple novel to their kids, are they really going to put up with hyperactive behavior when a chemical solution is available? I've heard horror stories of schools threatening to expel children unless they were placed on Ritalin because the school nurse diagnosed the child with ADHD. What happened to youthful energy? When did our society forget that little boys are tiny terrors that run around, break things and have entirely too much energy (this last part is the only thing that changes with age)? So instead of cutting out sugar-laden snacks, we give them stimulants.

    I'm only a medical student and I have no interest whatsoever in psychiatry but I've read the DSM:IV and ADHD has one of the most vague definitions in there. Normal male childhood behavior becomes depression and ADHD. It is unthinkable to give anti-depressants and behavior-modifiers to children. It is abuse and the government should stem this shocking trend of prescriptions.

    That said, there are legitimate cases of ADHD. I've seen children that, on Ritalin, have drastic improvements. However, it's not as though the drug makes the child able to play chopsticks on the violin overnight. A good example is a student I observed who was quite intelligent but just coudln't sit still and this prevented the child from paying attention in class. He desperatley wanted to pay attention but just couldn't. Once medicated, he was able to function. ADD/ADHD does exist but at a rate 300-500 times lower than the drugs are being prescribed.

    Ways to make sure your kid turns out ok:
    TURN THE TV OFF FOR GOOD (I cannot stress this enough)
    Make your kid eat right and develop a wide repertoire of foods
    Read to your child for one hour a day and encourage them to read more on their own
  16. rt_brained macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2002
    But I'm sure it's okay if your tax money goes to religious-based women's clinics, just as long as it doesn't go to clinics that offer abortions?

    Yes, diagnosing an ADD/ADHD individual isn't as black and white as diagnosing a cancer victim, and yes, too many children are prescribed medications like Ritalin. But I've alaso seen first hand extraordinarily bright children plagued by bad grades, inattentiveness and blurting out in class become attentive, interested in class and go home and eagerly do their homework without being asked. Not just because they went on medication, but because they were prescribed medication and given positive reinforcement and therapy which gave them the tools to help them manage their own behavior. Their awareness of their condition allowed them to cut back on the medication entirely after school, on weekends and during summer vacation.

    To imply blanketedly that all we're doing is creating a bunch of overmedicated zombies is outrageous. Rather than attack the established psychological community trying to help disadvantaged children, why not urge for more responsible action from the people who put these children in the position to need help in the first place: parents.

    In order to effectively turn the tide, we need parents to control the amount of television watch. Studies show significant differences in the way young brains wire themselves in the growth process in children who've watched significant amounts of TV versus those who watched very little. This hard-wiring is irreversible and not only affects a person's learning and development, it affects them rest of their life on earth.

    Diet, instability at home, lack of positive stimulation from overworked or innattentive parents, all contribute to a child's development and well being too.

    Don't blame the medical community for doing what they can to mend broken children. They've devoted far more time in school and in their profession reading, studying, testing and qualifying—educating themselves about the needs of developing children—a responsibility they bear out of love for the children they treat—than the parents have.

    Unfortunately, the only qualifications for having children is the ability to bear them.
  17. Frohickey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 27, 2003
    Sure. For you. For me, I'd rather my tax dollars be spent towards the US Mint, Post roads and offices, Patent office, courts, military and other purposes listed in Article I Section 8, inclusively.

    Yes, the only qualifications for having children is the ability to bear them. But how do you assist in encouraging proper parental supervision and involvement?

    How do you encourage two parent families to have one stay-at-home parent?
    How do you discourage one parent families?
  18. rt_brained macrumors 6502a

    Jan 13, 2002
    Pick one:


    or any link from this page:

    1) No one said anything about quitting work or staying home was an answer to anything.
    2) Discourage one parent families?? In general? Or from what?
  19. idkew macrumors 68020


    Sep 26, 2001
    where the concrete to dirt ratio is better

    1: to get off tpoic: i will say so. two parent families are much more stable and on average build a better child than single parent families.

    2: from happening.

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