It is pretty common for children to be hyperactive and have a hard time when it comes to paying attention. They are full of energy and still yet undisciplined when it comes to controlling that energy, so they run around being, well, very energetic and when it comes to trying to calm them down and get them to pay attention in school and while doing homework at home, what have you, it can be very challenging.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have become extremely common phrases in todays society. They were first announced to be actual childhood ailments by the National Institute for Mental Health back in 1980, but the problem had been officially acknowledged by society as far back as 1904.
People use the phrase that they are “ADD” rather colloquially when it comes to the inability to focus on something from time to time. This might be more common than most might think and not a true manifestation of actual ADD or ADHD. Maybe someone just has a bit more energy than usual, or is just mentally distracted from life events and hasn’t really realized it. So on and so forth.
When it is truly present, these conditions can be extremely encumbering to the development of a child into an adolescent, and then into a young adult. People who really have these problems cannot focus at all on one given task for any period of time, and are unable to stay in one place and do an activity for any extended amount of time as well. These problems are serious and can lead someone to become “behind” when it comes to growing up in our society as compared to their peers.
Methylphenidate, otherwise known as Ritalin, made its debut appearance into our society back in 1950 when it was used to treat something called Mohr’s Syndrome, which is a condition wherein the palette of the mouth becomes enlarged and the tongue becomes forked, or split at the end. Ritalin was not used to treat any kind of mental health problem, initially. It was found, however, that patients treated with Ritalin were found to be more calm and mentally stabilized the more they used the drug. But over the years, experimentation with it went on and it was found that lab rats treated with Ritalin became more calm and cooperative. Thus, it was started to be used to treat ADD and ADHD in children starting back in the 1980s.
The usage of Ritalin has been steeped in problems since the beginning of its usage in children. Severe side effects of the drug are known, such as suicidal thoughts or even worse ADD or ADHD. There were several cases of children dying as a result of the use of Ritalin. A drug manufacturer named Novartis was one of the biggest manufacturer of the drug and faced several lawsuits in the 1980’s and 1990’s as a result of these events.
Despite this, Ritalin is still being used. By the year 2000, 7 million children within the United States were being prescribed Ritalin, and the number is still growing. It is also used rather commonly in Australia, Germany, Canada and the United Kingdom.
So, despite the problems that come about from children using Ritalin, why is it being prescribed more and more, sometimes needlessly?
In today’s busy world, where it is common that both parents are working and have little time, to deal with a hyperactive child can seem like a burden. But children are hyperactive. The new thing that is going on is the busy schedule, not the hyperactive child. For the longest time it was common that one parent would work and the other would stay home to raise the children. When that was the case, hyperactive kids were manageable, less of a burden and less of an “anomaly”. Now, it seems, this is becoming less the case. But this is no excuse to medicate children in order to make them more manageable. Kids are kids and parenting is a huge responsibility. Ritalin can have serious consequences. This is not to say that ADD and ADHD are a hype and don’t exist, and for those kids who do actually have those conditions, Ritalin can make all the difference in the world. But it has to first be asked if the hyperactive child is just being a kid, or if there is an actual problem. Second, wonder if it is more a convenience problem than a serious issue for the parent. This will help with the overmedicating that our world is experiencing when it comes to these issues.
Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.