Well it's that time again; discussion time.
I, for some reason, was watching a bit of 60 Minutes tonight and caught their bit on Ritalin use/abuse and it provoked a bit of thought. They interviewed two South Australian doctors, one pro-Ritalin and the other anti-Ritalin and even anti-ADHD. Although not being very deep or thorough with their look at ADHD, 60 Miinutes at least were balanced (chip on both shoulders).
Personally, I'm definitely of the opinion that societies in general are far too quick to ascribe something like behavioural problems to a medical cause which can therefore be treated by a drug, particularly a dexamphetamine like Ritalin. I hate the stuff and I hate the abuse of most psychotropic medications available a little too easily. Ritalin has just been listed on the PBS so it's going to be even easier to get it and cheap. I find a lot of parents talk of the benefits of prescribing Ritalin in terms of how THEY benefit and this bothers me greatly.
Aside from this, I've lost count of how many parents I know with kids with behavioural problems who, upon a cursory glance of their food pantry, have in it high-sugar/high energy/heavy in preservatives/heavily-processed food and snacks. Co-incidence? I think not. It just doesn't surprise me anymore when people feed their kids 'fruit drinks' (y'know, those ones with "25% fruit juice in them"), heavy-in-wheat and sugar snacks like Le Snacks and Pop Tarts and museli bars and then their kids are bugging the crap out of them or displaying destructive behaviour. And of course there's food along that line being offered at schools too. Let's not forget the lack of physical activity.
It just horrified me when I saw kids being encouraged to take more Ritalin, some of whom were taking around 15 tablets PER DAY and that they were likely to be taking them for the rest of their lives! Sure they're calmer, etc. but I can get a similar effect by getting a long pen, shoving up someone's nose and killing a frontal lobe or two. Worse, the parent of one kid was diagnosed as having adult-onset ADHD and was put on a similar number of pills! I've also read quite a few stories of kids with no pre-existing conditions dying from extended Ritalin use.
And of course there's a truly insidious side to this as well. I've read papers stating that in some US schools, parents of problem kids are asked to put their children on Ritalin or their child wouldn't be allowed to return to the school. This has only recently been outlawed at a federal level (http://ritalindeath.com/law.htm) but not here in Australia. Bad enough? I've already read about schools in the US being given financial incentives to ensure prescription of these drugs to kids in their schools but this is unconfirmed in my book (despite what a plethora of websites out there will tell you).
I'm not denying the existance of a disease of this nature (well, maybe I am but I'm not 100% sure) but I think the search for causes has hit upon the easiest one they could find and drugs such as these target that. Certainly the growth of the use of these drugs is worrying indeed. What are everyone else's experiences with this sort of thing?