Ritalin – Breeding Future Addicts?

Physicians are often quick to prescribe Ritalin for active, restless children, and exhausted parents are thankful for a remedy. Unfortunately, even the most well meaning parents often don’t realize that Ritalin can be an adverse drug – not a catch-all solution for overactive children.

When it comes to Ritalin, parents have much to consider:

  • Experts aren’t sure what causes the brain disorder known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), but they assume that there might be a genetic link. ADHD may also be the result of other factors, some people assert that too much sugar intake or processed food might also be a contributing factor.
  • Many people don’t consider Ritalin to be a potentially harmful drug because physicians prescribe it. Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant that affects the body similar to drugs such as methamphetamine or cocaine.
  • Ritalin should never be prescribed for children under age six. Diagnosing ADHD in very young children is extremely difficult and unreliable, because young children are normally active and full of energy.
  • An experienced specialist who can confirm that a child has ADHD should only prescribe Ritalin after careful diagnosis. A specialist can also prescribe other medication if needed.
  • The drug should be given to children only when the specialist and the parents are certain that there are no better options and that the child’s behavior isn’t the result of a problem that can effectively be treated without use of medications.
  • According to recent studies, ADHD adolescents are two to three times more likely to become addicted to drugs and alcohol as adults. However, researchers aren’t sure if the risk of addiction is linked to Ritalin or the ADHD itself.
  • Research by Harvard University indicates that Ritalin may be a viable answer for children with a confirmed diagnosis of ADHD, and that the medications may actually prevent addiction in adolescents with the disorder.
  • Parents must understand that Ritalin may be an answer for some children with ADHD, but careful diagnosis is absolutely critical. Prescribing Ritalin for children who do not have ADHD may result in addiction and other mood disorders.
  • For a child with diagnosed ADHD, specialist monitoring and dose adaptation is crucial, also the tapering of the medication after some period of time.
  • For kids without ADHD, the effect of Ritalin may be exactly the opposite of what parents are hoping to achieve, turning normally active, busy kids into drug addicts by the time they reach early adulthood.
  • For children without ADHD, Ritalin may be a gateway to other stimulant medications. For example, the drug is often a drug of choice for college students who abuse it by increasing the dosage or sharing the drugs with friends.
  • Ritalin should never be prescribed without meticulous diagnostics and monitoring of the desired effect. It should never be used to quiet a normal, overactive, busy child or a kid who is bored or misbehaves in school.
  • Other options such as nutritional and lifestyle changes, counseling, family therapy and support, psychotherapy and a range of complementary therapies might be just as effective and helpful or can be used as supporting therapies during the predicted course of medication.

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