What Are We Doing to Our Children?

Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D) supposedly afflicts almost 5 million Americans, mostly young boys.  It is perhaps the only disease in American history which may be legally diagnosed by people with no medical credentials whatsoever, including teachers, school counselors, aides, principals, even parents[1].  No lab tests, blood tests, microscope studies or definitive diagnostic test exists for A.D.D.  No consistent genetic basis or organic neurological lesions, or any verifiable physical changes, have ever been identified as causative of A.D.D.  There is no objective scientific proof that the disease exists[2][3][4][5].  The long-term effects of Ritalin given to children have never been studied, according to the 1995 Physicians Desk Reference.  No known biochemical imbalance in these children has ever been proven.

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is an amphetamine made by Ciba-Geigy which today accounts for about 90 percent of medications provided to A.D.D. “patients.”  Ritalin is an addictive drug, classed by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule II controlled substance, a narcotic like heroin, morphine and cocaine.  Ritalin is also sold as an illegal street drug where a profit of about $400 can be made from an average prescription.  It can be crushed up and snorted, or else mixed with heroin to enhance a “junkie’s high.”  The U.S. uses 90 percent of the world’s Ritalin (about 1 million children using 6 million prescriptions or $900 million annually), and Canada most of the remaining 10 percent[6].

A natural question to ask, then, is why should A.D.D be such a uniquely American “disease”?  Would the answer have anything to do with biology?  Culture?  Economic availability?  Intelligence?  Or is this another possible example of the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry having an undue influence on our media, our medical doctors, our government, and even our schools?

As far as learning disability is concerned, Ritalin has never been shown to improve it, even slightly[7].  Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence to show that the emotional stability of adult life can be promoted or even influenced by childhood experience with Ritalin[8].

Childhood use of Ritalin does show a high correlation with adolescent abuse of street drugs – an easy transition.  Ritalin brings with it psychotic tendencies which can be enhanced by advanced drugs like heroin, cocaine and speed.

Some of Ritalin’s side effects as listed in the 1996 Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) 42nd edition:  Nervousness; skin rash; seizures; decreased growth; nausea; Tourette’s syndrome (obscene vocal outbursts, unpredictable, strange physical movements); insomnia; glaucoma; gastric pain; weight loss; emotional; headache; visual problems; suicidal tendencies; dizziness; irregular heartbeat; tardive dyskinesia (a permanent movement disorder characterized by involuntary facial tics, jerky movements of the head and arms); fatigue; decreased appetite; moodiness; and high blood pressure[9].

The PDR, besides being a very useful source of information, also serves as a legal protection for the pharmaceutical industry.  It gives fair warning about the side effects of drugs.  Not mentioned, of course, are all the physiological events, known and unknown, that must occur before a side effect becomes noticeable.

The emotional problems listed from Ritalin use may include drug-induced neurosis, psychosis, addiction, and clinical depression.

One of the more ironic findings is that long-term use of Ritalin can actually cause the very conditions it is supposed to cure:  inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness!

The PDR specifically states that Ritalin should not be used for children under six.  Nevertheless, American psychiatrists ignore Ciba’s own warning and prescribe Ritalin for some 200,000 pre-school children!

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Note: This article was written around June of 2000

1 Armstrong, Thomas, “The Myth of the A.D.D. Child”

2 Baughman, Fred, “The Future of Mental Health,” USA Today, March 1, 1997

3 McGuiness, Diane, “The Limits of Biological Treatment for Psychiatric       Distress.”

4 Breggin, Peter, MD, “Toxic Psychiatry”, p. 28

5 Dr. Baughman, Fred, :What Every Parent Needs to Know About ADD.”

6 Report Of The International Narcotics Control Board For 1995, United Nations Publication.

7 Armstrong, Thomas “the Myth of the A.D.D. Child, p. 47.

8 Walker, Sidney, “A Dose of Sanity”, p. 141

9 “Physicians Desk Reference”, 42nd Edition, 1996