The doping of America, Part 2: The Ritalin generation

American kids are the most medicated in the world. Photo: What is Ritalin doing to our kids?

WYTHE CO., Va., June 24, 2012 — Painkillers, prescription drugs, are one of the most widely abused drugs in Appalachia. While these are a huge problem, they are by no means the only pharmaceuticals being prescribed that are potentially devastating in their effects.

America needs to realize this doping is not by accident. It starts at an early age. One in four insured children and nearly 30% of adolescents took at least one prescription medication for a chronic illness in 2009.

SEE RELATED: OxyContin is the drug of choice of Appalachian addicts

Doping children with Ritalin is commonplace.  

American kids are the most medicated in the world. Every year more than 200 million prescriptions are written for children and teenagers in the United States.

That works out to more than three prescriptions per child every year.

The increase in use of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs has been nothing short of staggering in its implications. In 30 years, there has been a twenty-fold increase in the consumption of attention-deficit disorder medications. America is responsible for 90% of worldwide consumption of Ritalin. Four million children and teens in America are currently taking Ritalin. 

How Does A Kid Get On Ritalin?

It typically starts with a parent-teacher meeting, discussing Little Johnnie’s inability to focus, his impulsive nature, or his generally disruptive behavior. The teacher has rigid standards of learning imposed that leave little time for finding more effective teaching methods for Little Johnnie, so the teacher makes the suggestion that Little Johnnie may have ADHD and should be taken to the doctor to see if he does.

The doctor listens and agrees with the teacher and the prescription pad comes out.

Little Johnnie is prescribed a drug so similar to cocaine that some doctors refer to it as pediatric cocaine.  The parents go along with it because the doctor says it is an effective treatment, and Little Johnnie starts down the road of a life-long dependency on drugs in order to function in society.

It is not fair to the parents or Little Johnnie, but it calms him down and puts money in the pocket of doctors and the pharmaceutical industry.

Slow release Ritalin pills

Richard de Grandpre in his book, “Ritalin Nation,” showed that when given the option of choosing between Ritalin or cocaine, laboratory monkeys did not show a preference for one or the other.

Yet many did prefer Ritalin, which has a slower “let down” period than cocaine.

Methylphenidate, the active ingredient in Ritalin, is indeed very similar to cocaine. Both drugs use the same receptor site in the brain, give the same “high,” and in medical research are used interchangeably.

The only difference appears to be that cocaine leaves the receptor site more quickly, possibly making it more addictive.

Methylphenidate is a central nervous system stimulant. It has side effects similar to, but more potent than caffeine and amphetamines. It causes both short-term and persistent symptoms of mental retardation: zombie-like appearance, memory loss, drowsiness, hypotonia, and overall depression.

Reported psychiatric side effects include suicidal thoughts, aggression, psychotic behavior and hallucinations.

Ritalin Is A Worry for Potential Drug Abuse or Addiction

It is a Schedule 2 substance, along with cocaine, morphine, opium, and barbiturates. The controlled substance designation means that there is concern by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that the drug has potential for abuse and/or addiction.

There are numerous studies that state the short-term effects are positive, but not one that will state the long-term effects have any good results. Any person, ADHD or not, faced with repetitive or boring activity, can benefit from use of the stimulant in the form of better focus and concentration.

That does not mean we should dope our children to make them more manageable or more focused students. Perhaps we need to look at education in general and find ways to motivate the Little Johnnies of America that do not include regular doses of a Schedule 2 stimulant.

Ritalin has been conclusively shown to be the leading cause of increasing rates of drug-induced schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder in children in North America.

Consider The Following:

Shawn Cooper, a 15-year-old sophomore at Notus Junior-Senior High School in Notus, Idaho, fired a shotgun at his fellow students in April. Cooper was on Ritalin.

Thomas Solomon, a 15-year-old at Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga., shot and wounded six classmates in May. Solomon was on Ritalin.

Kip Kinkel, a 15-year-old at Thurston High School in Springfield, Ore., killed his parents and two classmates and wounded 22 other students last year. Kinkel was on Ritalin and Prozac, an anti-depressant.

Eric Harris, one of the Columbine High School killers, was on the anti-depressant drug Luvox. Luvox is prescribed for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and depression.

*Rod Matthews, 14, beat a classmate to death with a baseball bat in 1986 in Canton, Mass. Matthews had been on Ritalin since the third grade.

Do we really need to wait any longer for this study or that study to confirm what the rest of the world apparently already knows, that doping your child for no better reason than they are easily distracted or fidgety is just plain wrong?

How many future Albert Einsteins or Leonardo DaVincis have we robbed of their creativity by drugging them into submission, and how many children have we already crippled with a life long dependency on stimulants?

We have slowly been brainwashed into believing there is a pill for every ailment. We fail to remember that drugs treat the symptoms and not the underlying causes. Maybe there is a reason we are depressed or distracted or obese, and just maybe we should focus on the cause of these rather than how to “dope” them into oblivion.

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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.


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