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ADHD - Is Ritalin Kiddie Cocaine?

Ritalin - The Feminists’ Answer to Active Little Boys

By: Mary Mostert, Analyst, Original Source (

September 2, 1999

A study published recently by the American Journal of Public Health which involved 30,000 children in two school districts in Virginia strongly suggestes that ADHD, the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, “may be overdiagnosed, and the drug used to treat the condition may be overprescribed.”

Really now? Having raised a very active boy who quite definitely would be on Ritalin today if his teachers had their way, I still doubt the existence of the “disorder.” Today, nearly 6 percent of the school-age population in the United States has been diagnosed with ADHD, a condition “characterised by impulsive behaviour and difficulties in paying attention and keeping still.” Approximately 90 percent of patients with ADHD take the drug Ritalin.

Ritalin, or methylphenidate, is a mild central nervous system stimulant. It boosts the brain's ability to control impulsive behaviour and helps children concentrate. Dr. Mary Ann Block the author of "No More Ritalin" refers to Ritalin as "kiddie cocaine" and contends it can cause dangerous behaviour. (see: Among my grandchildren’s generation, Ritalin use, in my opinion, quite definitely IS being used as “kiddie cocaine” to “control” normal boy behavior.

Today, when a child is totally bored in school, or jumps from one subject to another, you can bet someone at that school is going to pressure the parents to put the kid of Ritalin. In fact, one of my grandaughters, far less active and less rambunctious than her uncle at the same age was teacher-diagnosed as needing Ritalin. Her mother’s answer was a firm “No!”

LeFever found the number of children medicated in school for ADHD was 17 percent for white boys, 9 percent for African-American boys, 7 percent for white girls and 3 percent for African-American girls.

Seventeen percent of Virginia’s white boys are abnormal and require what Dr. Block calls “... mind-altering drugs”? Block points out that Ritalin, is “almost identical to cocaine -- goes to the same receptor site in the brain, causes the same high when taken in the same manner," Block said. Of course, the doctors who prescribe Ritalin claim it is “safe when taken under close supervision and does not have long-term effects even if started at a very young age.”

Others see a totally different picture with the same “results.” What many teachers want to see in their students, and what Ritalin does may be the same thing. However, is what teachers want in the way of behaviour in their class necessarily a good thing for a bright, healthy, child with an inquiring mind? Is the problem in the classroom with the child not paying attention or the problem in the classroom a boring teacher?

For example, if your 10 year old son is considered ADHD in the classroom because he won’t or “can’t” concentrate, but comes home and plays for hours with his game-boy or Nintendo, the kid obviously CAN concentrate. In fact, most 10 year olds today can beat the socks off their grandparents at Nintendo because they are so GOOD at concentrating on the game.

Invariably when I get into a discussion with ADHD parents they tell me that their child usually “performs better in school” and “relates better with family and friends.” When I ask for specifics I find that the child is “better able” to do boring school work. This is a plus? Parents, some of the homework I’ve seen in recent years makes no sense. A child who can plow through it and end up believing it makes sense is the one with the problem, not the child who is bored with it.

In November 1998, Dr. Peter R. Breggin presented a scientific paper at the Plenary Session of the National Institute of Health Consensus Conference on ADHD and its Treatment. (see: He dealt with the common dosage of Ritalin for young children saying, in part: “There is little doubt that stimulants can, for a time at least, subdue a child's behaviour, making the child easier to manage and especially more willing to perform rote, boring tasks. But we need to look beneath the surface at the underlying effects and mechanisms of action.”

Dr. Breggin’s warnings need to be known to every parent who gives their child Ritalin:

1. Psychostimulants (such as Ritalin) can cause irreversible brain damage and dysfunction. This is known with high degree of scientific probability in regard to amphetamine and methamphetamine, and with a high suspicion in regard to methylphenidate.

2. Psychostimulants cause multiple adverse effects, including a variety of cardiac and central nervous system effects, such as COD, depression, and even mania. The CNS effects often confuse doctors, leading inappropriately to further psychiatric diagnosis and medication rather than to drug withdrawal.

3. Psychostimulants impair growth--including the brain.

4. Psychostimulants work by suppressing spontaneity and sociability, by enforcing obsessive-compulsive preservative behaviour, and by isolating the child from normal outside influences.

A chart that accompanied Breggin’s paper listed adverse drug reactions, some of which were considered “improvements in behaviour” by parents and teachers! He listed the following adverse drug reactions (ADRs): Social withdrawal and isolation; General dampening of social behaviour; Reduced social interactions, talking, or sociability; Decreased responsiveness to parents and other children; Increased solitary play; Diminished play.

Other adverse affects of Ritalin included: Obsessive-compulsive behaviour, Preservative behaviour; Cognitive preservation; Inflexibility of thinking; Over-focusing or excessive focusing; Compliance, especially in structured environments; Reduced curiosity; Somber; Subdued Apathetic; lethargic: "tired, withdrawn, listless, depressed, dopey, dazed, subdued and inactive" --passive and submissive behaviours.

Why are these adverse affects considered “improvements” in the child’s (usually a boy’s) behaviour? Why do we want the men of America to be less curious, lethargic, subdued, inactive, passive and submissive? Because we are living in a militantly feminist culture which condemns anything masculine - but especially active, curious, hard to brainwash or manage males, that’s why. Any bright, energetic, boy who challenges today’s politically correct feminist notions is very apt to find himself drugged into submission, especially if he’s living with a feminist single mother.

Often when there’s a father in the house, he will squash the drug approach to behavior which he probably well remembers doing himself at the same age. Someone should study the ritalin use of boys being raised by a single mother. I suspect they’d find a far higher use of mind altering drugs on boys being raised without their fathers.

The very characteristics that working parents and controlling teachers see as “problems” in growing boys are often the same as the characteristics of success - the ability to move quickly from one idea or problem to another, sociability, curiosity, friendliness - once the boy is grown. It sometimes takes patience and humour to see a sociable, curious, friendly, boy with many different interests and ideas through to adulthood, but the rewards are great.

Without those characteristics I don’t see how my son Guy, who today is an orthopedic surgeon, could ever have had the determination to get through 2 years as a full-time missionary, 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, three years as a Navy doctor, (who served in Desert Storm) and four years as an orthopedic surgery resident. If I’d given him Ritalin, he would have simply remained a framing carpenter. Now, there’s nothing wrong with framing carpenters. He worked his way through college as a carpenter. But, there were other things he was curious about and wanted to learn and some teachers really got upset with that. They could not comprehend why Guy was reading in the encyclopedia about elephants when they had explicitly ordered him to look up owls. They never understood that he looked up owls, and found they ate mice and that got him curious about mice and what they eat so he looked up mice and then remembered that elephants were supposed to be afraid of mice so he was looking up elephants to see if that was really true. Some teachers just wanted him OUT of their class.

Today his “lack of concentration” on owls would be treated with a mind-altering drug. In fact, in the 1960s the common response was tranquilizers. I had a lot of people suggest I put him on tranquilizers. I have seen Ritalin control those impulses to jump from one subject to another in young boys I taught in Church and it’s so sad. The LaFever study will “prompt other communities to study their rates of Ritalin use in school-aged children” Xavier Castellanos of the National Institute of Mental Health observed. “Were the previous estimates of ADHD too low? Is ADHD being overdiagnosed or are doctors now doing a better job of diagnosing it? Certainly no one has found the prevalence of Ritalin use to be this high up until now.”

Before allowing your child to take a mind-altering drug, first ask yourself how many hours a day of active play is he participating in. Does he have the opportunity to run, jump, and play vigorously a couple of hours a day? Would his energy level be a problem if you were living in a log cabin and he was up milking a cow at 5 AM? If the you have to say “no” to these questions, HE’S not the one with the problem. You and the teacher are the problem. He needs to be given more challenges and more physical activity. It’s quite possible he is a smart kid and is simply totally bored.

I bought a trampoline for Guy and when he couldn’t sit still or was driving his sisters crazy I’d say, “Guy, go jump on the trampoline for 15 minutes.” He’d jump for longer than that and come in happy. Still, to the day of his graduation he hated high school and would avoid going whenever possible. The school kept trying to get Guy to act “normal.” He never did. He couldn’t slow down that much. After high school he worked for a year at a quarry breaking up rocks with a jackhammer, saved his money and went to Japan on a mission for his Church, came home and spent the next 15 years either in a classroom or in the army.

Had I given him Ritalin in elementary school to “slow him down” or make him more content with meaningless paperwork, he would never have made it as an orthopedic surgeon. However, he’s the kind of doctor everyone wants in the emergency room - alert, quick thinking, well prepared and energetic. Without a doubt had he been on Ritalin then, or now, he wouldn’t have those characteristics. Of course, all the ADHD symptoms didn’t go away. To this day the government’s mountains of paperwork bores him just like the English teacher’s boring lessons.

However, today if he wanted to he could hire one of his old English teachers to do all that stuff at close to minimum wage while he saves the lives of people broken and bleeding to death after a car accident.

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