Although American culture has changed over the years, parents today still want what is best for their children. Why then, are parents allowing their children to be put on medications that may have an adverse effect on their children? Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) have increasingly been diagnosed among young children today. Parents should become more informed about the over diagnosing, side effects, results of the medication and all other pertinent information before they allow their children to become treated.
In this research paper we are first going to look at why ADD and ADHD diagnosing has become so widespread. Then we will look into the side effects of Ritalin; the number one drug prescribed for ADD and ADHD. Finally, we will consider the results of the treatment. ADD and ADHD have had a dramatic rate of increase since it was first discovered 25 years ago. This epidemic has grown from 500 thousand in 1985 to between five and seven million today. (Baughman) ADD and ADHD have become popular for many reasons. In todays American culture and fast paced society it is likely that both parents will work.
This breaks down the traditional family where only one parent would work and the other would stay home and take care of the children. This leads to a tremendous breakdown in parental supervision and involvement in their childrens academics. This lack of involvement by parents puts the burden onto the school system for a childs lack of achievement. When a child academically performs poorly or has a problem at school, parents want corrective action to be taken no matter what the cost, as long as, it is a fast remedy with little involvement by the parent.
In some cases, when a child is labeled with ADD or ADHD because he/she is doing poorly in school, the corrective action that needs to be taken is for the parent to simply spend more time with their children and tutor them in academic areas they re lacking in. Children feel the loss, (quality time spent with parents) and they take action for attention. They misbehave, they cry, they become defiant, aggressive. The parents seek answers and relief to the family turmoil. The school, which is also experiencing the childs defiance and aggression, seeks relief.
Enter the school psychologist who provides the convenient answer. The child has ADD. (DeWeese) Schools are looking for answers as to why students are doing poorly. These schools are also looking for a quick fix to the problem. Due to new federal programs and funding, (in 1991 federal education I grant were changed to provide schools with $400 per each student diagnosed with ADD) schools are now allocated with in-school clinics and psychologists to help determine if students have learning disabilities.
As a result of these new federal programs, and funding, schools today are no longer held responsible for a students lack of performance. Now schools have a new efficient system to protect themselves. It works like this: if a child has trouble in math, he is deemed to have a mental disorder under code number 315. 1 Mathematics Disorder, if a child cant write literature composition he/she must be suffering from code 315. 2 Disorder in written Expression. (DeWeese) The list goes on and on and it is quite obvious that schools are well protected. Teachers also play a key role in the over diagnosing of ADD and ADHD.
Teachers today, although they only receive education up to a masters degree to teach in K-12th grade, have become psychiatric doctors. Teachers are given lists of symptoms and unacceptable behaviors and instructed that if a student fits into the category they are to be marked and labeled, and the paperwork should be written up to begin their drug treatment. This may seem too outlandish to believe, but, I assure you this is how we have allowed are school system to become. Finally, I think that we need to look at the economical side of diagnosing children with ADD and ADHD.
Parents who are presented the option of putting their children on Ritalin face many questions and concerns, therefore they look for answers. CHADD (Children and Adults with deficit disorder) is the organization that parents turn to. What most parents are unaware of is that the makers of Ritalin sponsor CHADD. Since 1988, when CHADD and the Ciba-Geigy (now Navartis), the manufacturer of Ritalin, began their financial relationship, Ciba has given almost a million dollars to CHADD, helping it to expand its membership from 800 to 35,000 people. Merrow) In 1996, CHADD was given $750,000 to produce a video, Facing the Challenge of ADD, this video does not only mention the generic name of Ritalin but goes so far as to call it Ritalin, this is paid advertisement for Navartis by U. S. taxpayers. The Swiss pharmaceutical company Navartis is also soaring on the stock market, with federal funds to support the use of it in classrooms, and the purposed use of more drugs in the classroom (Luvox and Prozac). Domestic Ritalin sales have increased nearly five fold since 1990 and the increase is attributed to the use of Ritalin for ADD.
Ninety-percent of all Ritalin prescriptions are for Children diagnosed with ADD, although prescriptions for adults are escalating as well. (Breggin) Navartis tends to be the stock to invest in with an illustrious stock market portfolio, nearly tripling itself in 25 years, it is still steadily increasing and now has federal support and funding. With all the advertising of Ritalin as a cure for ADD and all the knowledge of its existence and use, few people seem to be concerned or know anything of the side-effects that Ritalin has.
Ritalin seems to the public to be a great drug to stop children from misbehaving and focus them on their academics to help them do better in school. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ritalin however, actually has quite a few side effects to include but not limit to brain damage, impaired learning, psychosis, depression and apathy, obsessive-compulsive disorder, motor tics, insomnia, reduced appetite, cardiovascular disease, growth suppression and even death. (Breggin) In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Fred A.
Baughman writes about the danger and addictions of Ritalin. Ritalin and all amphetamines, causes growth retardation, brain entropy, seizures, psychosis, tics, and Tourettes syndrome. (Baughman) Baugman further writes about three cases he was consulted upon where the patients died of cardiac deaths, due to Ritalin treatment for ADD. These three cases were of an 11-year-old girl, a 14-year-old boy and a 9-year-old boy. Of the 2, 993 adverse reactions to Ritalin, reported to the FDA, from 1990 to 1997, there were 160 deaths and 569 hospitalizations. 26 of these adverse reactions were cardiovascular. (Baughman)
Ritalin and other amphetamines due to their addictive side effects has also become a drug of choice in high schools and colleges. With the ease of being diagnosed and drug therapy, Ritalin is fast becoming used in many situations. With this illegitimate use of the drug in an uncontrolled environment, other side effects have been reported, such as blackouts, comas, and death when Ritalin is taken with alcohol to increase the buzz.
A bit of information not widely known about the Ritalin is that it does in some cases over a long period of time cause violent episodes. These violent episodes are not widely researched due to the fact that they are a long-term exposure side effect. Examples of these types of violent episodes are the Columbine shootings, where all the shooters had been diagnosed with ADD and prescribed Ritalin for drug therapy. The results of Ritalin are not what you would expect; in fact using Ritalin causes brain entropy and thus a decrease in the students academic performance.
As stated previously, I think that parents should strongly consider the underlying problems of a childs school performance before they consent to a diagnosment of ADD and drug therapy. It seems to me that parents are looking to quickly for an easy way out of problems with their children. I recently saw a movie that is symbolic of this parental approach. The title of the movie is Disturbing Behavior. In the movie, there is a scientist who develops a way through neurology to change childrens behavior, with minimal side effects-violent rages.
Although the community does not know how he is doing it, they really dont seem to care as long as their children are doing well in school. This scientist is not only, encouraged, rewarded and respected, but also looked upon as the hero of the community. This movie is truly symbolic of the parenting culture we live in and is definitely worth noting. In conclusion, American culture needs to change and become more of a traditional one again. Parents should reconsider drug treatment for ADD and look for alternatives; ones that provide healthy results.