Ritalin for children's hyperactivity and attention deficit - a problem?

If you've been following medical journals and news on children medicine, you'd find that more and more children are being prescribed medication and medicine, one of them being ritalin (more information in the box below)

Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a central nervous system stimulant prescribed for treating narcolepsy (uncontrollable sleepiness), and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin is available as a generic drug.

Common side effects of Ritalin include nervousness, agitation, anxiety, sleep problems (insomnia), stomach pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, headache, vision problems, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, sweating, skin rash, psychosis, and numbness, tingling, or cold feeling in your hands or feet.

Generally, Ritalin is a brand name for methylphenidate, which is a drug that was developed to target and treat Attention Deficit and/or Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD or ADHD) in children.

ADD or ADHD is a common medical term that describing children who have attention issues, hyperactive or are difficult to handle/control.

In fact...US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that in 2012, estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 to 17 had been diagnosed at some point, a 53 percent increase over the past decade.

Approximately two-thirds of those currently diagnosed have been prescribed drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall. Those drugs can help patients with both mild and severe symptoms, but they can also cause addiction, anxiety and psychosis.

The number of children who are prescribed Ritalin is staggering.

Fightforkids.org indicates that at least 10 million children are in the United States, being prescribed addictive stimulants, antidepressants and other psychotropic (mind-altering) drugs for educational and behavioral problems. There are more stats, read that article here to get more stats here.

A good question that every parent and grandparent should ask themselves is...is it safe to consume such medication? Is it even required. The same WMD article indicates that there is a high possibility that the (medical) world is medicalizing what children are - energetic, curious and playful (link to this article right at bottom of this article)

The problem about prescribing children for a condition that they may not have (as children may be just being children, possibly an issue of medicalization of children), secondly, is also the high problems of side effects such as in first yellow box above BUT also psychiatric medicine in children is increasingly linked to much more behavioural, psychological, sexual and suicidal risks as they grow older. It's also highly addictive, and the numbers of children abusing it are also equally staggering.

If we condone it, we may be setting them up for a future of possible drug abuse, drug dependency and reliance.

YET...it's setup as part of the medical process and prescription, with very high majority of mainstream medicine continuing to prescribe it even though they're aware of its side effects, potential for substance abuse and high risk of issues later in life.

In fact, the American Medical Association (the AMA) published an article on Ritalin with the subject that "Ritalin behaves much like cocaine", and the same article describes Ritalin being a much more powerful stimilant than cocaine.

Of course it doesn't take these kids long to find out - they're curious and experimentative in nature...they didn't take that long to find out that they could crush those tablets into powder, and get high from inhaling that powder.


They would have been so thrilled!

What's worse, a study done in Winconsin, South Carolina and Indiana showed that about 50% of the teens in drug rehab centers admitted that they used Ritalin to get high, and these Ritalin were prescribed to them in the first place.

The same study also showed that children were selling their prescribed dosages to other children and put pressure on children to share their prescription...Ritalin is also listed at the top 10 most stolen prescription drugs.

Hmm...I wonder if some of these attention deficit or hyperactive children were just acting to get a legal prescribed source of drugs for their own use or for commercial sale.

ritalin is continuously prescribed and endorsed by authorities.

What's compounding the situation is that it seems to be that educators, teachers, psychiatrists and some medical professionals are endorsing this medication as a simple solution to children's behavioral/social problems without giving more weight to possible underlying issues.

The first and foremost important question that all parents and grandparents must ask if they face this problem is:

"What is causing or aggravating the attention deficit/hyperactivity?"

What's the difference between today and the time when I went to school? What has changed? Is there something today in their lives today that is causing or aggravating this?

Yes, every class and school should have the occasional joker and troublemaker, but surely it's not so bad that we have to drug the children?

One of the things that has changed severely since the times of our fathers and grandfathers is:

#1 Nutrition

The foods then were much more nutritious compared to the foods today which nutrition value has decreased severely over time. Plus, they didn't take in that much sugary stuff (canned drinks, snacks, sweets etc) which were a rare treat during those days.

Children nowadays often eat sugary substances...multiple times per day. Now at this moment my little girl is 13 months old, and I bring her to the playground everyday, and I observe fellow children in the playground everyday drinking either Milo/packet drink/canned drink (sugar+++), eating a sweet (pure flavored sugar), eating a flour based snack such as crackers (sugar again).

Can you imagine how much sugar children are taking in these days...and in Asia, where rice, bread and noodles are a daily staple - it's no wonder these children zip and zoom around after a sugary meal.

#2 Pent up energy + too much TV/handheld devices

I personally think and feel that children needs to run, socialize and play every day and as often as they can because they not only has so much energy in their bodies plus they need to learn to play and socialize with other children, not sit transfixed to TV and handheld devices.

My personal observation is that children who do not go out to play much by themselves or others and spend a lot of time watching TV tends to have behavioral challenges because of

(1) energy built up and

(2) picking up aggressive / abnormal patterns from TV or lack of socialization and playing with others.

natural solutions

Yes, there are some variations in the bell curve usually, but I believe that at least 80% of the time, the child's behavioral and/or social problem may be addressed from natural solutions.

An example being - food allergies, nutrient/nutrition deficits, toxic chemicals from pollution may cause behavioral changes in children (note: if you're living in an area where the tap water is polluted/heavy metals, please use a reverse osmosis system or high quality water filter).

focus on managing the core cause, not just treat the symptoms

As a father, natural health enthusiast and healthcare professional, I would like to say that Ritalin should be a "last-resort" approach rather than a "blanket or first step approach" for managing children with attention deficits or hyperactivity - I would still prefer the natural approach.

I respect my fellow medical professionals nonetheless.

As a father, I think that before you agree to having your child prescribed with Ritalin, do take a look at the general health and well being of your child - medicine is but just one aspect of healthcare. Look at them, look at their diet, their lifestyle, what are they eating or drinking, who they are hanging out with.

Are they taking in more sugary packet/canned drinks rather than water? Are they eating more processed and/or fast foods rather than wholesome foods? Did they just had a fallout or incident in school?

Ritalin may be convenient and easy to label a child, but I think that we need to be more holistic, as much as we can. Ritalin may be easy, but there is so much side effects interim and in the long term, and with its risks of being abused...I do not lean positively to it.

If you're in this situation right now, please try your best. I understand that it can be a very stressful time but please research and observe your child first, and see their diet/nutrition, their school or home environments, see what's truly leading to them that way - is it insufficient play or social activities and too much TV?

I recommend that you consider working with a health professional that has some experience resolving the problem with nutrition, supplementation, play and guidance.

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