Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Published: August 19, 2001
Some of Ritalin's competitors are breaking with 30-year-old international marketing restrictions to advertise directly to parents, selling the idea that drugs may be the answer to their children's problems in school.At the same time, state legislatures are moving to prevent schools from recommending or requiring that parents put their children on medication.
The legislative push is a reaction to what its advocates call overprescription of the drugs. They say an excessive reliance on Ritalin and several competing drugs is driving parents away from traditional forms of discipline and has created a growing, illegal traffic in what are potent and dangerous speed-like stimulants. Last year, doctors wrote almost 20 million monthly prescriptions for the stimulants, according to IMS Health, a health care information company. Most of those prescriptions were written for children, especially boys. The drugs had sales last year of $758 million, 13 percent more than in 1999.
The problems associated with these drugs have escalated. The Drug Enforcement Administration says Ritalin and other stimulants are among the most frequently stolen prescription drugs. Some students are crushing and snorting pills for a speed-like high; in Orem, Utah, an elementary school principal was sentenced to 30 days in jail after he stole his students' Ritalin pills and replaced them with sugar pills.
In Millbrook, N.Y., Patricia Weathers said her son's school told her to put him on Ritalin in first grade. By fourth grade, he was showing signs of severe anxiety, she said, chewing his clothes and paper. When Mrs. Weathers took him off the drugs, she said, the school called the state's office of child protective services and accused her of medical neglect. ''You have the school psychologist, the teachers, the principal, all bombarding you, saying this is the only way to go,'' she said. ''I fell for it, and I believe most parents fall for it. They want to do what's right for their child, and if the professionals are telling them this is right, you think, 'They must be right.' '' She, like many parents who think Ritalin is overprescribed, complain that there is no scientific basis for the diagnosis of the disorders for which it is prescribed. ''You can't tell me they all have this brain disorder during the school year, when during the summer they're fine,'' said Mrs. Weathers, who now instructs her son at home.

Correcting Common Myths About ADHD
Poor parenting is responsible for ADHD behaviors in children.

ADHD is a physical disorder caused by differences in how the child's brain works. Anxiety-producing factors, such as family conflicts or disruptions, can aggravate the disorder, but they do not cause it.

ADHD is NOT a physical disorder. ADHD is a false disease constructed by scientists that know very little about how a child's brain works. The cognitive aspects of "ADHD" are actually adaptations to certain kinds of environmental habitats.

Children treated with stimulant medications will become addicted or will be more likely to abuse other drugs.

Stimulant medications are not addictive when used as directed. Studies have shown adequate treatment of ADHD may reduce the risk of substance abuse.

NOT A FACT. Most prescription drugs taken for ADHD require a "step down" period when dosage is gradually reduced to avoid unpleasant withdrawl symptoms.

Stimulant Drugs for ADHD and ADD
those ADHD drugs!
Since 1991 prescriptions for all drugs to treat ADHD have quintupled. This year about six million children, roughly one child out of every eight, will take Ritalin or other forms of methylphenidate. The number of stimulants prescribed for children 2 to 4 has increased 200% to 300% between 1991 and 1995. Studies show that stimulants cause especially severe reactions in young children. Since there are no good studies, no one knows what it does to the development of the very young child's brain.

First it is important to realize that all of the stimulant drugs prescribed for ADHD/ADD are closely related to some illegal street drugs. These include dextroamphetamine (dexedrine) (street name: "dexies"), methamphetamine (street name: "crystal meth"), and, of course, cocaine. We imprison people for making drugs very similar to the drugs we prescribe to our ADHD children.

A research report in the Archives of General Psychiatry states, "Cocaine, which is one of the most reinforcing and addicting of the abused drugs, has pharmacological actions that are very similar to those of methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta), which is now the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medicine for children in the U.S."

New World Disorder
By William Saletan
Posted Thursday, June 12, 2008, at 12:52 PM ET
Is ADHD a disease?
The U.S. government says it is. So does the professional Diagnostic & Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders. The condition's very name incorporates this assumption: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Lots of kids with ADHD have trouble functioning in modern society. But what if society were different? What if it were structured so that having ADHD was actually an advantage? This isn't some futuristic thought experiment. A new study suggests that this ADHD-friendly world may actually be part of our past.
The study, led by Dan Eisenberg of Northwestern University and published in BMC Evolutionary Biology, examined a Kenyan tribe called the Ariaal. Part of the tribe has recently settled into an agricultural community. Another part remains nomadic. The tribesmen were tested for DRD4 7R, a genetic variant that, Eisenberg notes, "has been linked to greater food and drug cravings, novelty-seeking, and ADHD symptoms." He and his colleagues report:
DRD4 7R+ genotypes were associated with indices of better nutritional status among nomads, particularly higher fat free mass, but worse indices in the settled individuals. This suggests that the 7R allele confers additional adaptive benefits in the nomadic compared to sedentary context.
This difference, the authors report, is "consistent with past findings of higher 7R allele frequencies in nomadic populations around the world."
Increased impulsivity, ADHD-like traits, novelty-seeking like traits, aggression, violence and/or activity levels may help nomads obtain food resources, or exhibit a degree of behavioral unpredictability that is protective against interpersonal violence or robberies. … It might be that the attention spans conferred by the DRD4/7R+ genotype allow nomadic children to more readily learn effectively in a dynamic environment (without schools), while the same attention span interferes with classroom learning in Songa, the settled community. 7R+ boys might develop into warriors (the life-stage of an Ariaal male that lies between childhood and manhood) and men who can more effectively defend against livestock raiders, perhaps through a reputation of unpredictable behavior that inspires fear. Among 7R+ men in the settled community of Songa, such tendencies might be less well suited to practicing agriculture and selling goods at market. It might also be that higher activity levels in 7R+ nomads are translated into increased food production, while such activity levels in settled men are a less efficient use of calories in food production.
I don't know whether the speculated reasons for the gene's benefits will pan out. But the benefits do seem real. And that finding suggests two things. First, we should be careful about designating diseases and disease genes. Traits that are harmful in one setting can be helpful in another. Advantages or "defects" that we think of as natural may actually be products of our cultural decisions. As Eisenberg puts it, we might "begin to view ADHD as not just a disease but something with adaptive components."
Second, our society may be the wrong place to assess a gene's evolutionary harm or benefit. As the authors note, "[N]on-industrialized or subsistence environments … may be more similar to the environments where much of human genetic evolution took place."
The lesson of the Ariaal study is simply that society can adapt to genes instead of the other way around.




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