Ritalin – The Answer to ADHD?

ADHD The Medication Decision

It is well known that medication can help reduce the symptoms of ADHD.  However, in many cases, this may not be the best choice.  I t is important to understand the implcations of such a decision.


Given that there are approximately 3.5 million children in the US that can fall under the category of suffering from ADHD, there are many research projects and papers that explore the various treatment options avaiable for doctors and their patients.  It is interesting that many people are under the false impression that doctors always treat their ADHD patients with a prescription for the use of some medication. The truth is that only half of these affected children are diagnosed and given medications to treat their symptoms.

This leads to a couple it main points.  First, parents should not automatically assume that their child has ADHD simple because they are highly active and seem to have a short attention span.  In many cases, these apparent symptoms are part of the normal growing up process.  I have not seen many three-year-old chilldren who display the same behavior characteristics of an adult.  Many times their behavior adjusts as they begin to  understand that everything does not happen just because they want it to. This means that, in order to diagnose ADHD properly, many different types of people involved in the childs environment need to be consulted before reaching such a conclusion.  Generally speaking, the child should exhibit the same symptoms of ADHD in various settings, home, school, and other places as well.

Once it is determined that a child has ADHD, then the various treatment options should be reviewed.  This can involve medication.  However, before choosing this option it is important  the implications with such a decision.  How the medication affecets the body and the possible side effects of taking any medication should be fully understood before proceeding with this type of treatment.

Methylphenidate, on the market under such names as Ritalin and Concerta, is a stimulant which is the most common drug prescribed for treating ADHD.  There are also a group of medications called "mixed salts" which is a blend of the stimulants amphetamine and dexadrine.  Seems strange that one would prescribe a stimulate to treat someone who is hyperactive doesn’t it? Well, stimulants can actually help reduce the levels of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior by blocking the dopamine transporter.  Dopamine is a  neurotransmitter which helps control attention, movement, and behavior.

There are a couple of Schedule II drugs – those that have a high risk of abuse and must be monitored closely by doctors – such as Adderal and Metadate which may also be prescribed.

When you look at the side effects of these types of drugs, it can and should cause a parent to take notice.  These range from loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, an increased heart rate, and even death.  Between 1990 and 2000 there were 186 deaths from the use of Ritalin.  Some medications, such as Strattera come with a suicide warning for users of this drug.  The question to parents becomes a choice of the quality of life versus the potential side effects of the medications.  

However, for those children diagnosed with a mild form of ADHD, the use of medication as a treatment option may not be the best choice when compared to the results that can be gained from non-medical options.

There are behavioral modification options that can be applied at home and in the classroom that do not involve taking a drug.

Other options may include a change in diet.  For many children, the use of organic foods that do not contain additives may be the right choice of treatment. 

The main thing is that its important to understand the extent of the behavior problems to which your child is displaying and getting to the root of the cause for these issues to occur.

Notes from elsewhere

Side effects and effectiveness analysis of Ritalin

Real world drug outcome study: Side effects and effectiveness analysis of Ritalin for males aged 10, long term effects included (Report ID: 2886719) on eHealthMe.com.  […]

Ritalin Vs Adderall

Ritalin is the most commonly prescribed stimulant, far outselling Adderall. This doesn’t mean it’s better, though. Ritalin and ADHD have become almost synonyms, probably because of how long Ritalin has been on the market. … 

Long Term Effects Of Ritalin, Concerta, Stratera?

does anyone know if theres long term effects of being on these medicines for ADD/ADHD. im 20 now and i was on ritalin from 3rd-6th grade…concerta from approx. […]

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