The "solution" to ADHD – Ritalin and similar drugs

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has established 5 schedules (or classes) of controlled substances.   Random House Dictionary defines a controlled substance as, “any of a category of behavior-altering or addictive drugs, as heroin or cocaine, whose possession or use are restricted by law.”  Drugs in Class I (or Schedule I) have the highest potential for abuse and dependence and, “typically, the only use for these substances are for research purposes.  Examples include LSD and heroin.”  Class II (Schedule II) includes drugs, “that have the highest abuse and dependence potential for drugs with medicinal purposes.  Examples include analgesics (drugs used to relieve pain) like morphine and Demerol.” The above quotes are from The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs, by Drs. Rybacki and Long.  As the authors also point out,  the DEA has classified Ritalin as a Class II drug.

“Stimulants are the drugs most frequently prescribed for ADHD in the hope of controlling behaviors described as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.  With their chemical names in parentheses, the drugs include:

  • Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  • Dexedrine and DextroStat (dextroamphetamine or d-amphetamine)
  • Adderall (d-amphetamine and amphetamine mixture)
  • Desoxyn and Gradumet (methamphetamine)
  • Cylert (pemoline)

"Except for Cylert, all of these drugs have nearly identical effects and side effects.  Ritalin and the amphetamines can for most purposes be considered one type of drug.”
Dr. Peter Breggin, from his book Talking Back To Ritalin                

“Perhaps the best known effect of chronic stimulant administration is psychosis.  Psychosis has been associated with chronic use of several stimulants; e.g., amphetamines, methylphenidate (Ritalin), phenmetrazine and cocaine…(This) psychosis mimics paranoid schizophrenia or paranoia so closely that it has been misdiagnosed as such by experienced clinicians many times.”
-Predicting Dependence Liability of Stimulant and Depressant Drugs
by Dr. Klaus Unna, M.D. and Travis Thompson, Ph.D.

“Ritalin is structurally related to amphetamine…Its pharmacological properties are essentially the same as those of the amphetamines.”
-Goodman and Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics (1985) 

The side effects of Ritalin on our children...

The following list of Ritalin side effects has been culled from 35 references and studies discussed in the book Talking Back To Ritalin by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin.  They are in no particular order.  Some of these side effects are very common, others not as frequent, while others are rare:

• pacing
• impulsivity
• agitation
• personality changes
• depression
• "zombie" behavior
• inhibition of emotional feeling
• blurred vision
• muscle cramping
• sadness
• tachycardian (abnormal increase heart rate)
• psychosis (general term for any serious mental disorder)
• nausea
• dry mouth
• hair loss
• withdrawal symptoms
• skin disorders
• oculogyric crisis (spasms of the eye muscles)
• confusion
• stupor
• euphoria
• obsessive focusing on a routine task
• increased weepiness
• grimacing
• feelings of great power
• fearful behavior
• seeing and feeling
small creatures, especially bugs
• incessant talking
• loss of sensation in fingers
• enuresis (loss of control of urination)
• marked blotches
• worsening of ability to think and learn
• abnormal physical movements
• handwringing
• inattention
• restlessness
• irritability
• social withdrawal
• a pinched, somber
• leukopenia (reduced
white blood cell count)
• heart palpitations
• increased blood pressure
• dizziness
• headache
• tic syndromes*
• vomiting
• weight loss
• dependency symptoms
• addiction symptoms
• liver disorders
• severe convulsions
• hallucinations
• emotional instability
• nervousness
• paranoia
• dysphoria (painful emotions)
• loss of "sparkle"
• paranoid schizophrenia
• body distortions
• ringings in the ears
• tiredness
• dopiness
• arm-waving
• foot-tapping
• aggressive behavior
• feeling hot
• diarrhea
• hyperventilation
• excessive hugging and clinging
• suppression of the production of the hormone prolactin
• foot jiggling
• anxiety
• innsomnia
• memory problems
• constriction of mental activity
• inhibition of
• anemia (a blood disorder
thrombocytopenic purpura (loss of factors for blood clotting)
• excessive central nervous stimulation, possible causing convulsions
• "Tourette's symdrome**
• loss of appetite
• stomach pain
• growth suppression (including brain growth)
• twitching
• abnormal thinking
• hostility
• amnesia
• neurosis (general term for any minor mental disorder)
• hypoactive (opposite of hyperactive)
• babbling
• arching of the arms and legs
• listlessness
• dazed feeling
• teeth grinding
• continuous, involuntary
• tremulous tongue
• wild, out-of-control behavior
• mottled skin (skin w/spots and disruption of growth hormone
• visual disturbances

* tics  is a general term which includes a wide variety of abnormal movements, including facial twitches and grimaces, eye blinking, and various abnormal movements of the feet, hands, arms, and legs

** Tourette’s syndrome involves a combination of tics with spontaneous, uncontrollable vocalizations often in the form of a single word that may be obscene or offensive

What the experts have to say about Ritalin...

“The latest survey showed that about 7 percent of Indiana High School students had used Ritalin nonmedically at least once, and 2.5 percent of high school students use it monthly or more frequently…Used non-medically, it often is ground into a powder and snorted like cocaine, or diluted and injected like heroin.”
-Indianapolis Star article,  “Teen abuse of Ritalin taking root,”  5 August 1998

“Sufficient data on safety and efficacy of long-term use of Ritalin in children are not yet available.”   (Note: Ritalin was first introduced in 1956)
–Ciba-Geigy Pharmaceuticals (makers of  Ritalin) info sheet on the drug

“The mode of action (of Ritalin) in man is not completely understood,  but Ritalin presumably activates the brain stem arousal system and cortex to produce its stimulant effect.  There is neither specific evidence which clearly establishes the mechanism whereby Ritalin produces its mental and behavioral effects on children, nor conclusive evidence regarding how these effects relate to the condition of the central nervous system.”
–Ciba-Geigy Pharmaceuticals (makers of Ritalin) info sheet on the drug

“In clinical practice, children are routinely diagnosed with ADHD and treated with Ritalin if they display one, two, or three of these characteristics, or even a few behaviors that resemble these traits. While the most recent edition of the diagnostic manual added the requirement that the symptoms appear in two or more settings, children are commonly diagnosed on the basis of their behavior in school or a single classroom.”
Dr. Peter Breggin-
, from his book Talking Back to Ritalin

“Through these criteria, describing common, everyday behavior of children, the rhetoric of science transforms them into what are purported to be objective symptoms of mental disorder.  On closer inspection, however, there is little that is objective about the diagnostic criteria.”
S. Kirk and Kutchins from "The Selling of DSM: The Rhetoric of Science In Psychiatry"

“I wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to Ciba-Geigy (manufacturer of Ritalin), to Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CH.A.D.D.) and four times to leading ADHD researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health, requesting that they direct me to one or a few articles in the peer-reviewed, scientific literature that constitutes proof of a physical or chemical abnormality in ADHD, thus making it a ‘disease’.  I have yet to receive anything which would constitute proof of an abnormality - one that could be tested for patient by patient - one proving that we are not drugging entirely normal children.”
–Dr. Fred Baughman, M.D., Neurologist, from the booklet Psychiatry - Betraying and Drugging Children published by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights

“The driving force behind the over-diagnosis (of ADHD) is a system that is out of control.  Teachers want compliant, well-behaved children.  Parents eager to see children succeed take them to mental health professionals who are quick to diagnose ADHD and seek drug treatment.  Under an insurance system that favors drugs over therapy, ADHD is an easy label to apply to undesired behavior; drugs are a quick fix. …

"Children who are creative, having a different learning style or are oppositional, angry, or depressive all have been diagnosed as having ADHD.  Many of these problems can be found only by talking with patients at length.”
–Sharon Collins, pediatrician (1997)

“It’s well known among research of the gifted, talented, and creative that these individuals exhibit greater intensity and increased levels of emotional, imaginational, intellectual, sensual and psychomotor excitability and that this is a normal pattern of development.

"These characteristics, however, are frequently perceived by psychotherapists and others as evidence of a mental disturbance… ADHD and ADD are a few of the diagnostic labels mistakenly used.”
–Lynne Azepeitia and Mary Rocamora (February 1997), from Misdiagnosis of the Gifted, in the newsletter of the National Association for the Fostering of Intelligence

“Sadly, it is often the more creative and enthusiastic kids who are slapped with a mental disorder label.  Even Albert Einstein, if he had been born in the last decade or so, would have perfectly fit the profile of someone having attention deficit and supposedly needing Ritalin.  He didn’t speak until he was 7; his teacher described him as mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift in his foolish dreams. You can rest assured that today there would be an all-out effort to have him medicated; and he certainly wouldn’t have been alone.  In school, Thomas Edison’s thoughts often wandered and his body was perpetually moving in his seat.  His teacher said he was unruly and too stupid to learn anything…Walt Disney had several of the characteristics used to diagnose ADHD, as did Alexander Graham Bell, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Henry Ford, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and the Wright Brothers.  The list goes on…every one of these great minds and thousands of others like them would probably have been labeled with a mental disorder and put on Ritalin if they had gone to grade school today…What about our children?  Do we want to stunt their initiative and creativity by drugging them?  Wouldn’t it be wiser instead to find out what is really stopping each of these young people from doing their very best in school?”
–Dr. Erwin Gemmer, from his taped lecture Conspiracy Against Our Children

“A boy was brought to the home, diagnosed as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  The treating psychologist said that we wouldn’t want to take him.  So, I interviewed him.  As he supposedly had ADD, I asked him some basic questions: ‘What’s the longest time you’ve ever talked to a girl on the phone?’  ‘Three to five hours,’ he replied.  ‘Do you remember what she said?’  He could remember it all.  I asked how long he could play a Nintendo (video) game.  He told me he’d played it eight hours straight.  What about books?  Could he read?  He said he read books from beginning to end - the ones he liked reading.  He’d also played full games of basketball and football.  So it appeared to me that he could pay attention to anything that he was interested in.”
–Fred Shaw, Jr.,  owner and manager of several California group homes for boys as an alternative to prison                         

“I became an expert in treating hyperactive children with stimulant drugs.  Then I discovered that many children developed their unacceptable behavior because of the food they were eating.  Along the way I found that I could stop allergies, lift depression, control some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, lower blood pressure if elevated, assuage asthma, control insomnia, and stop addiction and a great deal of criminal behavior.  All with few or no drugs.”
–Dr. Lendon Smith, Oregon pediatrician

“Possible side effects of Ritalin:  chronic rash, stunted growth, weakened immunity, anorexia, anemia, depression, anxiety, insomnia, withdrawal.  Possible side effects of natural therapies:  emotional stability, peace of mind, strengthened immunity, peaceful sleep, clarity of thought, ability to focus, more patient, enjoy life more, more loving.”
–Nina Anderson and Howard Peiper
, from "ADD - The Natural Approach"                     

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“There’s either a strange plague of hyperactivity in the U.S., or we’ve got a lot of folks prescribing Ritalin as a psychopharmacological nanny.”
Arthur Caplan, director, Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania

“It is astonishing that an uncritical nation has so enthusiastically embraced a drug (Ritalin) that can cause cancer in animals, addiction in adults, brain damage in children, and whose long-term safety has not been established.”
Thomas J. Moore,
senior fellow in health policy at George Washington University Medical Center, from his book Prescription
for Disaster

“The actual impact of stimulants on the brain and mind of children are poorly understood and, despite administering the drug (Ritalin) to millions of youngsters in the past several years, psychiatry shows little interest in the question.”
Dr. Peter Breggin, psychiatrist, from his book Toxic Psychiatry

“As yet, no distinctive pathophysiology (physical disease) for the disorder (ADHD) has been delineated.”
Paul Leber, M.D. with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

“We are… unaware that ADHD has been validated as a biological/organic syndrome or disease.”
Gene Haislip of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

“Indeed, despite the highly successful efforts by the APA to define ADD as a well-established disorder of the brain, three decades of medical science have yet to produce any substantive evidence to support such a claim.”
Richard DeGrandpre, Ph.D. from his book "Ritalin Nation"

“According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), a child has (ADHD) symptoms - which must appear before age 7 - if she is easily distracted, often interrupts, and fidgets or squirms.  Sounds like your basic kid.”
Kate Murphy, journalist, Business Week (1997)

“I was shocked when I first learned the criterion used to rationalize putting a child on Ritalin.  There are no laboratory tests, no brain scans, no X-rays, no measurements, nothing even vaguely scientific, to demonstrate the existence of a medical disease that may need to be treated with a drug.”
Dr. Erwin Gemmer, from his taped lecture Conspiracy Against Our Children

“Had the vast majority of these children (labeled ADHD) learned to read properly utilizing phonics, they would never have been labeled as having ADHD or any other ‘learning disorder’.”
Dr. Fred Baughman, neurologist, from the booklet Psychiatry - Betraying and Drugging Children  published by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights

“It is known that if a child doesn’t understand something he or she is being taught, the child can begin to fidget and cease to pay attention. If the teacher fails to notice this and carries on past the misunderstanding without clearing it up with the child, the child’s behavior will deteriorate.  The child then is accused of ‘not paying attention’ or in psychiatric psycho-babble, is said to have ‘an attention deficit.’  Thus the child ends up being labeled as having one of the new ‘mental illnesses.’”
Dennis H. Clarke, “How Psychiatry Is Making Drug Addicts Out of School Children” 

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