The Misuse of Ritalin

Essay by fattdonutsCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2008

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

Kyle Carroll of Albany, New York was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) when he was in the first grade. His teacher told his parents, Michael and Jill, that Kyle was too hyper and couldn't concentrate for long periods of time. Without even going to see a professional about Kyle's problem, Kyle was put on Ritalin. Immediately, his parents started to notice side effects on Kyle and when they tried to take their child off of the medication, the teacher threatened to call social services and lodge a complaint about child abuse.

Many families across America are faced with the problem of ADHD. In fact, approximately 4-million school aged children suffer from ADHD. Many cases are misdiagnosed and over one million children take Ritalin who don't need it.

In 1939, Dr. C. Bradley first prescribed Methylphenidate, or Ritalin, as a stimulant to treat children with ADHD. ADHD is a brain disorder characterized by a short attention span, jumpiness, and impulsive behavior.

To be diagnosed, the victim of the disease usually has gone to see an average of eleven doctors.

Ritalin is a risky drug. Taking this drug means having to take a dosage every four hours. Like any other medication, large doses can lead to addiction. At the end of the day, when the medication starts to wear off, mood swings occur and the sufferer becomes irritable. Side effects, which include insomnia, loss of appetite, stunted height, and irritability are brutal to the victim. Ritalin, if taken improperly, can increase a person's heartbeat and blood pressure. This can cause cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and premature death. If ADHD doesn't get treated correctly, or within the first couple of years, there are some serious long term consequences.

Ritalin is also hitting the streets of college campuses under the names of "Vitamin R" and "R-Ball". College students are using this drug to improve concentration, so they can study longer, boost their alertness during major tests, and to help stay up all night. Selling and buying this drug is illegal, but anyone can find it on almost all of the campuses. College kids aren't the only ones who find this a booster. New studies find that a growing population of younger teenagers and middle age adults are taking the pill, like candy, to keep up with today's fast paced world.

This is a point Daryl Cagle was getting at in his cartoon titled, "Schools' Backing of Behavior-Altering Drugs Criticized". In the cartoon, it is apparent that the scene set in an elementary classroom. There is a banner of the alphabet going around the room, some division and multiplication on the blackboards, and a message written on the boards saying, "Parent-Teachers Night". In the background there is what seems to be a teacher greeting a proud couple. In the foreground you see a man and a woman standing next to the door. The woman is looking at a sign that reads, "In Ritalin We Trust". The man has his back to her, but turns his head and says, "Doesn't have the same ring a the old 'In God We Trust,' does it?"In Cagle's cartoon, it looks like society, including teachers, are using the easy way out, instead of using a little patience. Many people would agree with him and say there are other alternatives to solving the problem of ADHD instead of prescribing some medication. The most efficient ways would be to go to a combination of family, individual and behavioral therapies.

So what happened to Kyle and his family? His parents are trying to get Kyle off of the drug, and are thinking about suing the school district for misdiagnosing their child. They say that instead of working with Kyle, they took the easy way out and let the drug work with Kyle. Kyle, among other kids, are being unfairly punished for being a little kid with a curious mind.

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