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Thursday, June 06, 2002

Doping Our Youth

A hyperactive, energetic, and incorrigible child runs amock. Insisting on his way of entertainment, he implements a prepubescent "scorched-earth" policy, laying waste to his classmates, their possessions, and the egos of his teachers. Control? Discipline? These are concepts of the past, his parents are told. The educational party line: "What this child needs is a dose of Ritalin."

Does the above scenario describe your child? If it does, perhaps you should know more about the product your school counselors are imploring you to introduce to your son or daughter. Perhaps you should gain more information regarding the agenda of such recommendations.

First, let me dig into the mythology that is Ritalin doping. Ritalin is a stimulant intended to help ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) afflicted kids to concentrate better, and to act less impulsively. It is estimated that 5% of all schoolchildren are, or would be, given the opportunity, diagnosed as having ADHD. I find this remarkable, knowing that this "disorder" did not even exist until 15 years ago. Clinical trials of Ritalin are often skewed, and rarely last for longer than a period of weeks. Even the clinical trials statistics purport that placebos had nearly the same effect as the actual pharmaceutical (and without the frightening secondary effects, I might add).

To what side effects do I refer? Death. That's right. The popular press doesn't trumpet the drawbacks of this pill du jour. This schedule 2 drug (similar drugs: cocaine and meth) has time and time again shown up in coroner's reports as the sole contributing factor in causing small vessel damage, and enlarging the heart. Ask any cardiologist if he/she would prescribe Ritalin under any
circumstances. I already know the response.

So, why are we being led to believe these kids need to be doped? First of all, there is an entire pharmaceutical industry that needs an influx of profit. Extolling the virtues of such a wonder-drug helps them meet that goal. At a minimum, we cannot expect any discouragement when such a drug is desired to help calm our "fledgling" youth. Secondly, we have a modicum of irresponsible, and incapable teachers. Unruly child, you say? Pshaw. Give him something to ease the pain. Not his pain, mind you. The teacher's pain. I speak tongue-in-cheek, of course. That being said, our teachers need to realize a semblance of responsibility for their pupils. Accordingly, we also need to remove the shackles that dissuade school personnel from administering punishment to kids. Such methods are paramount to ensuring cooperation, not reasoning, and doping. Thirdly, and most notoriously, schools are actually encouraged to medicate these kids because of economic incentive. In fact, schools receive additional funding per child if that child is ADHD diagnosed.

A little parental involvement and insistance, tempered by understanding of the facts will ensure us that we will not cultivate a generation of doped, dispassionate children. Also, we need to encourage our teachers to be more responsible, and give them the means to be. The child described in the opening of this article? That was me, in a nutshell. I shudder to think how I would have turned out in today's pharmaceutically dependent climate.


.: posted by Dave 10:30 AM

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