Ritalin and other drugs used to treat children with ADHD and ADD have been given a lot of negative and some positive press over the years, but what is alarming is the statistics which I discovered from Suellen May, the editor of Understanding Drugs: Ritalin and Related Drugs: “In 1996, an estimated 1.5 million American schoolchildren (approximately 3-5% of all U.S. schoolchildren) were taking Ritalin daily” (9). The number clearly doubled over the years, which indicates that the use of Ritalin is increasing tremendously in America. With this in mind, while some feel that Ritalin is helpful overtime, the numbers show that Ritalin is actually not the best treatment for those who suffer from ADHD or ADD.
The Discovery -- In the early 1930’s, behavioral problems in children were believed to be the result of abnormalities in the brain, the nerves and the spine. Spinal taps were performed on children to check for these abnormalities causing severe headaches from Benzedrine, a new amphetamine. Dr. Charles Bradley, a physician who founded the Bradley Hospital (the nation's first neuropsychiatric hospital for children), discovered that hyperactive children responded well to the pill and noted that the kids had an increased interest in schoolwork, better work habits, and less disruptive behavior. Although Bradley seen improvement in the children’s attributes, he cautioned the use of these drugs on children stating that “the use of these drugs can mask symptoms of other disorders” which in fact is a problem that is persisting today. Ritalin was first marketed in 1957 to treat narcolepsy, chronic fatigue, and depression. Four years later the FDA approved Ritalin for use in children with behavioral problems. The American Psychiatric Association officially legitimized the term Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in 1980.
ADHD is an attention deficit disorder in which hyperactivity is present. ADD is an attention deficit disorder that causes a persistent pattern of difficulties resulting in one or more of the following behaviors: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. To have Ritalin prescribed one must be referred by a psychologist, educational teacher, or doctor. There are allegations that parents are loyal defenders of Ritalin and fully depended on this drug. The United Nations released a report in 1996 expressing their concern over the discovery that 90 percent of the 8.5 tons of methylphenidate produced worldwide each year is being consumed by Americans in which 10 to 12 percent of all male school children currently take Ritalin. According to an article “Ritalin: Miracle Drug or Cop-out?” by Ken Livingston, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Vassar College, says that “there is something odd, if not downright ironic, about the picture of millions of American school children filing out of "drug-awareness" classes to line up in the school nurse's office for their midday dose of amphetamine.”
Even child psychiatrist, Carl L. Kline of the...