“Chemical straightjacket or miracle drug? ” Wow. What a powerful statement on such a hot-button issue. I have done some reading in JAMA regarding this issue and interestingly, the research that I have read is as dichotomous as the information presented in the textbox article that we read this week. Currently, there are not many other options available for the treatment of ADHD that don’t all come with possible side-effect risk. Ritalin (methylphenidate) is a stimulant much like the methamphetamines that were used in the past to treat people with ADHD.
However, contrary to their stimulant effects, there drugs have proven to be helpful in patients suffering from ADHD. “As researchers have confirmed Ritalin’s quieting effect on individuals with ADHD and its ability to help them focus and solve complex tasks” (Comer, 2011, p. 430). Parents laude the praises of the drug’s efficacy, yet are concerned over the long-term possible side effects of the drug. Parents are concerned over possible dependency. Stimulants always have the potential to be addictive and can be abused and sold on the street.
Consequently, parents are concerned over misuse, abuse, and overdose caused by not taking the drug as instructed (i. e. snorting it or taking larger doses than recommended). Parents are also concerned about having their children take a medication that is so long-term and the possible side-effects that come with long-term medication use. Children often face a stigma placed upon them from peers who mock them for being on Ritalin. Children also face the reality of being on a medication for a long period of time. Children also face the reality of the potential side effects that are caused by the drug. Doctors share many of the same concerns. During the late 1980’s, several lawsuits were filed against physicians, schools, and even the American Psychiatric Association, claiming misuse of Ritalin” (Comer, 2011, p. 430).
Due to these lawsuits, some doctors abstain from prescribing the medication for fear of lawsuits from the parents. While most doctors agree that the side-effects to Ritalin are common side effects that are experienced with the usage of most prescription drugs, they worry about the more severe side effects (i. e. facial tics and psychotic symptoms). One of their larger concerns in children is the fact that Ritalin can affect the growth of some hildren. Teachers probably see the most benefits of Ritalin use. When they have a hyperactive kid that can’t focus, the teacher not only needs to worry about the education and the unproductive nature of the ADHD child, but they also need to worry about the disruptive behavior that the ADHD child passes on to the rest of the class. When one child is so disruptive, it takes much of the teacher’s time and effort to reign in that child and thus, the other children suffer. Teachers who have students who are on a Ritalin regimen are usually very pleased with the results that they observe in the classroom.
Pharmaceutical companies love Ritalin. “Around 8. 5 tons of Ritalin are produced each year, and 90 percent of it is used in the United States” (Comer, 2011, p. 430). Additionally, with its growing popularity as a recreational drug, pharmaceutical companies are in a rush to keep the drug accessible and on the market. What almost everyone agrees upon is that their needs to be more research in the long-term side effects of the drug. They also agree that broader testing prior to the diagnoses of ADHD is also important and that a combination of behavioral and drug therapies is the most desirable approach to treatment.