Ritalin Essay

1541 words - 6 pages

The Dark side of a Wonder Drug-A Selected Collection of Testimony on theSafety of Ritalin'We give our children every day, yet we punish adults for taking speed,'stated a concerned parent(Ritalin Zone). A trip to the principal's office usedto mean big trouble. These days, more kids are showing up in the schooloffice just to get their midday dose of Ritalin. Ritalin, the drug used to treathyperactivity in children, is being seized on by a generation worried aboutcontrolling inappropriate behavior. But some doctors think Ritalin is beingprescribed to children who are simply having trouble in school. The numberssuggest they have good reason to worry. The number of prescriptions forRitalin increased four-fold from 1990 to 1995, making the stimulant one ofthe most prescribed drugs in the country. No one knows exactly what'sbehind the surge in Ritalin use, but experts speculate it's due to everythingfrom increased awareness of attention disorders in schools to teachers andparents becoming less tolerant of unruly behavior.Some local school offices have become virtual noon-time pharmacies. Atone Ottawa-area board of education, the number of medications dispensed tostudents by office administrators has increased 20 per cent over the past 18months. A good chunk of those pills are Ritalin. 'We always worry that we'rea half-step away from giving someone the wrong dosage,' says John Beatty,the board's superintendent of school operations(Ritalin Boy). 'In certainschool systems there's been a teacher who has seen it work and they'll startsuggesting it as an option for all children who are acting out,' said LindaBudd, a St. Paul, Minn., psychologist who has written the book Living Withthe Active/Alert Child. 'We've got some teachers we call 'Ritalin bullies' -he's not paying attention to me so he needs Ritalin'(Ritalin Zone). MarciaRuberg, a school psychologist in Cherry Hill (N.J.) School District, said thenumber of children taking Ritalin varies greatly from class to class,depending on 'the teacher's belief system'(Ritalin). At some schools,children as young as seven are asked to take their Ritalin themselves. Thelittle blue pills have become so common in school yards that some kids arereportedly selling their spare Ritalin to friends, who take it in the hope ofgetting a buzz. 'Every parent wants their child to be at the top of the class,'says Dr. Andre Cote, clinical director of the Children's Mental HealthTreatment Center at the Royal Ottawa Hospital. 'What we might be seeing isthat people are trying to improve their kids' performance by giving themmedication'(Health: Ritalin).Others worry that Ritalin has become an easy answer for busy familiestrying to cope with a hyperactive or aggressive child on their own. Dr.Thomas Millar, a retired Vancouver child psychiatrist, believes ADHD is nota disorder, but behavior that discipline and better parenting can fix. 'Ritalinmay calm the child,' says Millar, 'but it does nothing to increase his or hertolerance for...

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