Americans would be horrified to learn that 2 million children across the nation are being given cocaine by their parents and doctors to make them behave better in school,1 [but in 1997] about 2 million American school children and zooming numbers of adults [we]re taking the cocaine like medication to control their thoughts.2
It’s a lucrative market for pharmaceutical companies.3 To maintain a 10% annual growth rate, the industry’s top 50 companies must more than triple their output of novel drugs.4 A large number of [these] medications are being prescribed to treat childhood disorders. They include tranquilizers, stimulants, and antipsychotic medication.5
Like halitosis in the 1960s, impotence in the ‘70s and herpes in the ‘80s,…ADHD i is one of the fastest growing disorders being diagnosed today.… And it is, according to believers as well as skeptics, possibly the most misdiagnosed disorder.
If [Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD)], the drug companies and some top scientists are correct, as much as 7 percent of the Earth’s population has this neurological malfunction. [In 1997] that would be 399 million people, more than the combined populations of the United States, Mexico and Canada.6
How does a hyperactive child differ from other children?7 Most children with ADHD have been treated with drug therapy.8 Opponents describe the use of medication as a “Band Aid” approach or a “chemical straightjacket” to ensure ease of management (Hutchens, A. L., & Hynd, G. W. (1987). Medications and the school age child and adolescent: A review. School Psychology Bulletin, 16, 527 542).9
Drugs prescribed from cradle to grave
It can mean big money for school systems that claim disabled students, and for some parents who claim disabled kids.… Educators disagree they are pushing the drug, [although the U.S. Department of Education] publishes a directory of support groups, doctors who specialize in this field, and where to get information on drug treatment.10
What’s going on here?
Child psychologist[s]…believe the drug is being over prescribed by doctors with limited experience…who feel pressured by insurance companies. … Specialists insist the real problem is that the disorder isn’t diagnosed enough, and that maybe only half the people who need treatment are getting it.11
Few parents will resist such pressure to do something, say critics. The frequent result is methylphenidate… or Ritalin by its most popular brand name.12 [In 1997,] prescriptions for…methylphenidate…[we]re estimated to be up 600 percent,…[and] some authorities worry it is being given to children for the wrong reasons.13
“Diagnosis [was getting] looser and looser. Diagnoses [we]re being made over the telephone,” reports [a doctor,] a community medicine specialist.… “ADD has gotten so much attention that parents are coming in and saying, ‘My kid needs Ritalin.’ Parents shop around for a prescribing doctor.”… His concern is with liberal dosing of methylphenidate, which he calls “the pharmacological equivalent of cocaine.” 14
The United Nations International Narcotics Control Board has twice voiced warnings about this country’s dependence on methylphenidate.… The United States consumes five times more of this drug than all the rest of the world combined.…
A  study reveal[ed] that the drug [was] being prescribed to tens of millions of school-age children.15 They are Generation Rx. Nearly all are white, from middle and upper class families, typically with two working parents. School bells ring, and long lines of pupils form at the nurses’ stations or principals’ offices for pills to slow them down and block out distractions.…
Non prescription abuse is soaring.…
Popular as it is with teachers, doctors and parents, it happens that cocaine addicts love it, too. Tests show they can hardly tell the difference. The molecular makeup is different but studies cited by the DEA show Ritalin and cocaine cause nearly identical reactions in the same brain cells. This comparison outrages proponents of the drug. One of the foremost is Dr. Russell Barkley who runs a clinic…at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.…
“Ritalin is not addictive when taken orally,” says Barkley. “For this drug to be potentially addictive, it has to be crushed and inhaled nasally, or injected, and that has to be done repeatedly.”…
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD), has lobbied to make the drug more available, arguing the potential for abuse is slim. Not so, says the DEA, citing the following warning signs:
A nurse practitioner in…schools, believes Ritalin can be a gateway to other drugs. “They go looking for drugs to replace it so they’ll feel good.” Yet she sees parents and teachers looking desperately for ways to control…children: “We’re a pill oriented society. The pill is a quick fix. We’re very anxious to get to feeling better.” 17
A[nother] child psychiatrist…worries that we are creating an entire generation with a sweet tooth for cocaine.18 Early exposure to a stimulant makes the brain more receptive to other drugs, [the doctor] says, and the young user feels comfortable, even better, when taking the substance. “Why would we want to be initiating all these brains into more efficient responsiveness to this whole class of licit and illicit stimulants?” [the doctor] asks.
[According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], problems with the stimulant drugs drive nearly 3,100 people to ERs each year. Nearly two-thirds — overdoses and accidental use — could be prevented by parents locking the pills away, the researchers say. Other patients had side effects, including potential cardiac problems such as chest pain, stroke, high blood pressure and fast heart rate. [In 2006], an estimated 3.3 million Americans who are 19 or younger and nearly 1.5 million ages 20 and older are taking ADHD medicines. Twenty-five deaths linked to ADHD drugs, 19 involving children, were reported to FDA from 1999 through 2003. Fifty-four other cases of serious heart problems, including heart attacks and strokes, were also reported. Some of the patients had prior heart problems. From August 2003 through December 2005, the researchers counted 188 ER visits for problems with the drugs at the 64 hospitals in the network, a representative sample of ERs monitored to spot drug side effects. Doctors linked use of stimulant ADHD drugs to 73 patients with side effects or allergic reactions. Another 115 accidentally swallowed ADHD pills, including a month-old baby, or took too much.20
For residents of California with loved ones who are addicted to cocaine and other stimulants such as Ritalin, they should know that there exist many California cocaine addiction treatment centers that will certainly be of help.
ADHD, often refered to as hyperactivity, is a confusing term.… Two major types…exist. One is characterized primarily by attentional problems [often referred to as ADD] and the other involves hyperactivity [now called ADHD]. Both of these problems may occur in the same individual. It is not clear if these types are different degrees of the same disorder or if they are unrelated disorders that should be listed separately.
We will look back on this era and the response to drugs in this country, and think that was the worse thing that happened in the McCarthy era. It is insanity run amok and there is not a sane voice in the federal government saying anything about it.
3 Lang, Ritalin Nation, p. A1.
6 Lang, Ritalin, p. D1.
8 Sue, Sue, & Sue, Understanding Abnormal Behavior, p. 511.
9 Ibidem, p. 512.
10 Lang, Ritalin Nation, pp. A1, A8.
11 Lang, Ritalin, p. D3.
12 Lang, Ritalin Nation, pp. A8, A1.
13 Lang, Ritalin, p. D1.
14 Ibidem, p. D3.
16 Lang, Ritalin Nation, p. A8.
17 Lang, Ritalin, p. D1.
18 Lang, Ritalin Nation, p. A8.