ritalin controversy

Todd I. Stark stark at dwovax.enet.dec.com
Fri Apr 29 16:45:31 EST 1994

KOZLOSKI_J at a1.mscf.upenn.edu (James Kozloski) writes...
>In article <1994Apr25.204234.21410 at liberty.uc.wlu.edu>,
>lmyler at liberty.uc.wlu.edu (Laura A. Myler) wrote:
>> I am trying to gather information about the presciption of ritalin to 
>> children who may or may not suffer from ADHD.  What are the side effects 
>> of ritalin to children? potential for abuse? etc.  Any information would 
>> be appreciated.
>If you want contraversy, do some looking into the rate of ritalin
>prescription in the Delaware Valley (Philadelphia, etc.)  It's WAY above
>normal, and is about to become a full blown scandal...  People are writing
>to their congressmen.  Seems like a good source for examining childrem
>prescribed ritalin who do not suffer from ADHD.

For parents, the controversy seems relatively unimportant to me.  
Parents don't care whether some academicians or clinicians can agree on a set
of criteria for diagnosing ADHD, or what label it is given, they
care about whether their children can suddenly see improvement in
learning and lessening of hyperkinesis enough to form more stable social 
relations, where these things had been intractable problems in the past.   

Ritalin has this proven effect with some children, regardless of whether it is 
seen as a generic stimulant effect of a specific effect on some underlying
ADHD disorder in particular.  

A child does not have to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD
to apparently see a benefit in some academic situation upon being given
a stimulant, including Ritalin.  I guess that's part of the 'controversy,' 
that some people just don't like the idea of stimulants.  They think that 
Ritalin is going to be abused the way amphetamines were abused as diet pills, 
but this is unlikely given its somewhat different effects.

The diagnosis of ADHD it seems to me is generally far from conclusive
even compared to other psychiatric and neurological diagnoses, and it
seems to me that it may even reflect a number of different and yet poorly 
differentiated behavioral and learning challenges rather than a single

But in any case, if it is possible to help such a child learn,
and stem their continual hyperkinesis long enough that they stop alienating
other children and can form social relationships as well, then it is
well worth trying in spite of any academic or clinical diagnostic controversy 
over ADHD or any stigma over the use of stimulant medication.  Unless the 
stigma itself becomes worse than the effects of the child's problems, which
may well become the case if the controversy around this is becoming as blown 
out of proportion as Kozloski seems to be implying above.

Prior to the diagnosis of ADHD, and the prescription of Ritalin, several
children I know were all treated by psychiatrists and psychologists and most 
saw no improvement whatsoever with psychotherapy or family counseling, and then
saw a distinct benefit immediately after beginning Ritalin, with no obvious
or serious negative effects.  This lends credence in my mind to the belief 
that the drug is often valuable, in addition to the mostly positive research

							kind regards,

| Todd I. Stark                           stark at dwovax.enet.dec.com           |
| Digital Equipment Corporation	                     (215) 542-3573           |
| Philadelphia, Pa. 19152   USA                                               |
| "There are four basic types : the cretin, the imbecile, the stupid, and the |
|  mad.  Normality is a balanced mixture of all four."  Umberto Eco           |

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