ADHD Essay, Research Paper
Should Stimulants Be Prescribed for ADHD Children?
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In this day and age, drugs are being prescribed without hesitation. In fact, many of these
drugs are being prescribed for children with various disorders. One of these disorders is
called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). An estimated five to ten
percent of children are diagnosed with this syndrome (Taylor 11). One of the methods to
treat this disorder is to use stimulants, specifically Ritalin. This method is controversial
because it has many side effects and its long-term effects are unknown. It can also lead to
addiction. Approximately two to three percent of elementary school children are taking
some kind of stimulant to treat ADHD (Taylor 64). Since so many children are taking
this medication, new problems have arisen. Many of these children use these drugs in
excessive amounts to get “high” with their friends. Some overdoses have even caused
death. The alternative ways to treat this syndrome without medication are not adequately
explored. Some doctors have found ways to combat this problem with little or no drugs.
Why aren’t more doctors looking into these alternative methods? What kind of example is
this excessive drug use setting for the children? Finally, what actions can be taken to
solve this problem?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a syndrome caused by a biochemical
imbalance and uniqueness. It has hundreds of symptoms that appear selectively in a
certain children. Some of these symptoms include distractibility, confusion, faulty
abstract thinking, inflexibility, poor verbal skills, aimlessness, perceptual difficulties,
constant movement, varied rates of development, food cravings, allergies, and sleeping
and coordination problems. The children have “little ability to block out noises in order
to concentrate” (Taylor 14). Many qualities to look for in ADHD children are
self-centeredness, impatience, recklessness, extreme emotionalism, and weak
consciences. ADHD children have trouble in school with reading, handwriting and
paying attention to what is important. They constantly fidget and squirm and can’t
express their thoughts into words. Detecting ADHD is a complicated matter since there
are no blood tests or evident genetic tests to confirm this syndrome.
The most common way to treat ADHD is with stimulants or anti-depressants. “These
medications stimulate the child’s “brake pedal” whereas without treatment the child is all
“gas pedal” (Taylor 63).” The most common drugs prescribed for this disorder are
Dexedrine, Ritalin and Cylert. They are effective for a four to five hour time period while
the sustained-released tablets are effective for seven to eight hour time periods. The
drugs stimulate the central nervous system similar to amphetamines. It activates the brain
stem arousal system and the cortex (Bailey 2).
Ritalin, the most common drug prescribed for ADHD, has many side effects. It can cause
a variety of symptoms including nervousness, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea,
vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, headaches, high blood pressure and heart rate, skin
rashes, abdominal pain, weight loss, digestive problems, toxic psychosis, psychotic
episodes, drug dependence, and anxiety (Bailey 3). These drugs also cause food cravings
(mainly sweets), hinder allergies, psychosis and pre-existing tics. Long-term effects of
Ritalin consist of stunted growth, psychotic episodes, depression and suicide attempts
that have resulted when children have been on this drug for and extended period of time
or when they were taken off of the drug after prolonged use (”Drugs” 1).
ADHD is such an obscure disorder that it is hard to know what dosage is correct for each
child. This leads to experimentation with the drug until the right dosage is discovered
through close observation. An overdose of Ritalin has severe consequences. It may cause
loss of appetite leading to malnutrition, tremors, muscle twitching, fevers, irregular
heartbeats and respirations, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, formication, sweating,
hyperpryexia, tachycardia, palpitations, hypertension, mydriasis, and dryness or mucous
membranes (Long 3).
Another serious side effect of Ritalin is extreme dependence and addiction. “Careful
supervision is required during drug withdrawal, since sever depression as well as the
effects of chronic overactivity can be unmasked. Long term follow-up may be required
because of the patient’s basic personality disturbances (”Avoid” 1).” Many children rely
on it so heavily that if they are without it for a short period of time they become anxious,
tense and agitated. These are some of the symptoms the medication is supposed to
correct, not inflict.
One side effect that cannot be medically proven is that Ritalin is being highly abused in
schools. ADHD children are taking the drugs with their friends to get “high” and have a