In this day and age, drugs are being prescribed without hesitation. In fact, many of these drugs are being prescribed for children with various disorders. One of these disorders is called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). An estimated five to ten percent of children are diagnosed with this syndrome (Taylor 11). One of the methods to treat this disorder is to use stimulants, specifically Ritalin. This method is controversial because it has many side effects and its long-term effects are unknown. It can also lead to addiction.
Approximately two to three percent of elementary school children are taking some kind of stimulant to treat ADHD (Taylor 64). Since so many children are taking this medication, new problems have arisen. Many of these children use these drugs in excessive amounts to get “high” with their friends. Some overdoses have even caused death. The alternative ways to treat this syndrome without medication are not adequately explored. Some doctors have found ways to combat this problem with little or no drugs. Why aren’t more doctors looking into these alternative methods?
What kind of example is this excessive drug use setting for the children? Finally, what actions can be taken to solve this problem? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a syndrome caused by a biochemical imbalance and uniqueness. It has hundreds of symptoms that appear selectively in a certain children. Some of these symptoms include distractibility, confusion, faulty abstract thinking, inflexibility, poor verbal skills, aimlessness, perceptual difficulties, constant movement, varied rates of development, food cravings, allergies, and sleeping and coordination problems.
The children have “little ability to block out noises in order to concentrate” (Taylor 14). Many qualities to look for in ADHD children are self-centeredness, impatience, recklessness, extreme emotionalism, and weak consciences. ADHD children have trouble in school with reading, handwriting and paying attention to what is important. They constantly fidget and squirm and can’t express their thoughts into words. Detecting ADHD is a complicated matter since there are no blood tests or evident genetic tests to confirm this syndrome.
The most common way to treat ADHD is with stimulants or anti-depressants. “These medications stimulate the child’s “brake pedal” whereas without treatment the child is all “gas pedal” (Taylor 63). ” The most common drugs prescribed for this disorder are Dexedrine, Ritalin and Cylert. They are effective for a four to five hour time period while the sustained-released tablets are effective for seven to eight hour time periods. The drugs stimulate the central nervous system similar to amphetamines.
It activates the brain stem arousal system and the cortex (Bailey 2). Ritalin, the most common drug prescribed for ADHD, has many side effects. It can cause a variety of symptoms including nervousness, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, headaches, high blood pressure and heart rate, skin rashes, abdominal pain, weight loss, digestive problems, toxic psychosis, psychotic episodes, drug dependence, and anxiety (Bailey 3).
These drugs also cause food cravings (mainly sweets), hinder allergies, psychosis and pre-existing tics. Long-term effects of Ritalin consist of stunted growth, psychotic episodes, depression and suicide attempts that have resulted when children have been on this drug for and extended period of time or when they were taken off of the drug after prolonged use (“Drugs” 1). ADHD is such an obscure disorder that it is hard to know what dosage is correct for each child.
This leads to experimentation with the drug until the right dosage is discovered through close observation. An overdose of Ritalin has severe consequences. It may cause loss of appetite leading to malnutrition, tremors, muscle twitching, fevers, irregular heartbeats and respirations, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, formication, sweating, hyperpryexia, tachycardia, palpitations, hypertension, mydriasis, and dryness or mucous membranes (Long 3). Another serious side effect of Ritalin is extreme dependence and addiction.
Careful supervision is required during drug withdrawal, since sever depression as well as the effects of chronic overactivity can be unmasked. Long term follow-up may be required because of the patient’s basic personality disturbances (“Avoid” 1). ” Many children rely on it so heavily that if they are without it for a short period of time they become anxious, tense and agitated. These are some of the symptoms the medication is supposed to correct, not inflict.