Posts Tagged ‘Ritalin’

To drug or not to drug? An agonizing question

  • Picture of pills  spilling out of a bottleParents are frequently pressured to put their children on Ritalin by school personnel and others. I am frequently asked for my opinion of this controversial subject. Here is a quick review.

Ritalin (or other stimulants, such as Adderal, and the latest of which is Concerta, which time releases increasing amounts throughout the school day) are being advocated for focus and attention. In the case of children, this would be for the school hours usually, and sometimes after school for the homework time.

Ritalin advocates say:

Relatively inexpensive, easy to administer, and often “effective” short-term (can help some children do schoolwork at school; can help adults balance their checkbooks, or do their taxes); probably the only psychotropic (mind altering) drug that can be taken as needed and stopped at will; almost all other psychotropic drugs must be taken continuously to benefit.

If stimulants are used with other approaches, can be helpful. The goal is to increase student self-management and reduce dosage of stimulant to zero if possible.

Ritalin opponents say:

Almost always problematic, chemically, psychologically, and physiologically; can stunt physical growth, suppress appetite, create insomnia, and generate the idea that we are not responsible for our own behavior–it’s the drugs that are responsible for our behavior.

Of course this works both ways; if the child believes he has a medical condition (ADD/ADHD) then of course, “I am not responsible for my own behavior; it’s the ADD, eh?” 😮

Recent reports are very disturbing. Ritalin has now been implicated in severe side effects beyond the ones usually acknowledged. Destruction of neurological circuits and death have been reported. It would appear that although some students settle right down to schoolwork on Ritalin, long-term it actually interferes with learning.

Ritalin has street drug value

Since Ritalin (and its variants) are stimulants, they have value as street drugs and are sought after for illegal purposes. Some students on Ritalin sell their medications to create income for themselves.

Not a pretty picture.

Conclusion:

If you decide to use Ritalin, start right away to develop adjunctive protocols, such that the medicated student is learning to self-manage better with a view to tapering off the Ritalin and eliminating it altogether. Of course, the student also needs to be checked for body/brain toxin overload and nutritional deficiencies, as these problems have sometimes been disguised as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

I’ll address the brain’s nutritional needs and susceptibility to toxins in future posts.

Doc Meek, May 4, 2010

At Sherwood Park, Alberta, CANADA; not at South Jordan, Utah, USA

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