Vital Information About Ritalin, Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder and the Politics Behind the ADHD/Ritalin Movement
Summarized from Talking Back to Ritalin by Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
Available in your local book stores March 1998
For the purpose of alerting the public to the dangers of stimulant drugs, this appendix to Talking Back to Ritalin by Peter R. Breggin, M.D. may be reprinted without permission in unlimited numbers provided that no fee is charged for the materials and that no profit is made from the distribution. The source must be identified and the material must be reproduced in its entirety, including this page.
Talking Back to Ritalin by Peter R. Breggin, M.D. is published by Common Courage Press, P.O. Box 702, Monroe, Maine 04951. Phone: 1-800-497-3207.
- Several million children are being treated with Ritalin and other stimulants on the grounds that they have attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and suffer from inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. The stimulants include: Ritalin (methylphenidate), Dexedrine and DextroStat (dextroamphetamine or d-amphetamine), Adderall (d-amphetamine and amphetamine mixture), Desoxyn and Gradumet (methamphetamine), and Cylert (pemoline). Except for Cylert, all of these drugs have nearly identical effects and side effects. Ritalin and the amphetamines can for most purposes be considered one type of drug.
- The number of children being drugged has escalated several-fold in the last few years.
- Ritalin and amphetamine have almost identical adverse effects on the brain, mind and behavior, including the production of drug-induced behavioral disorders, psychosis, mania, drug abuse, and addiction.
- Ritalin and amphetamine frequently cause the very same problems they are supposed to treat--inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
- A large percentage of children become robotic, lethargic, depressed, or withdrawn on stimulants.
- Ritalin can cause permanent neurological tics including Tourette's syndrome.
- Ritalin can retard growth in children by disrupting the cycles of growth hormone released by the pituitary gland.
- The recent finding that Ritalin can cause cancer in some animals was not taken seriously enough by the drug company or the FDA.
- Ritalin routinely causes gross malfunctions in the brain of the child. There is research evidence from a few controlled scientific studies that Ritalin can cause shrinkage (atrophy) or other permanent physical abnormalities in the brain.
- Withdrawal from Ritalin can cause emotional suffering, including depression, exhaustion, and suicide. This can make children seem psychiatrically disturbed and lead mistakenly to increased doses of medication.
- Ritalin is addictive and can become a gateway drug to other addictions. It is a common drug of abuse among children and adults.
- ADHD and Ritalin are American and Canadian medical fads. The U.S. uses 90% of the world's Ritalin. CibaGeneva Pharmaceuticals (also known as Ciba-Geigy Corporation), a division of Novartis, is the manufacturer of Ritalin. It is trying to expand the Ritalin market to Europe and the rest of the world.
- Ritalin "works" by producing malfunctions in the brain rather than by improving brain function. This is the only way it works.
- Short-term, Ritalin suppresses creative, spontaneous and autonomous activity in children, making them more docile and obedient, and more willing to comply with rote, boring tasks, such as classroom school work and homework.
- Short-term, Ritalin has no positive effect on a child's psychology or on academic performance and achievement. This is confirmed by innumerable studies and by many professional reviews of the literature.
- Longer-term, beyond several weeks, Ritalin has no positive effects on any aspect of a child's life.
- Labeling children with ADHD and treating them with Ritalin can keep them out of the armed services, limit their future career choices, and stigmatize them for life. It can ruin their own self image, subtly demoralize them, and discourage them from reaching their full potential.
- There is no solid evidence that ADHD is a genuine disorder or disease of any kind.
- There is a great deal of research to confirm that environmental problems cause ADHD-like symptoms.
- A very small number of children may suffer ADHD-like symptoms because of physical disorders, such as lead poisoning, drug intoxication, exhaustion, and head injury. Physical causes may be more common among poor communities in the United States.
- There is no proof of any physical abnormalities in the brains or bodies of children who are routinely labeled ADHD. They do not have known biochemical imbalances or "crossed wires."
- ADHD is a controversial diagnosis with little or no scientific or medical basis. A parent, teacher, or doctor can feel in good company when utterly dismissing the diagnosis and refusing to apply it to children.
- Ciba spends millions of dollars to sell parent groups and doctors on the idea of using Ritalin. Ciba helps to support the parent group, CH.A.D.D., and organized psychiatry.
- The U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) push Ritalin as vigorously as the manufacturer of the drug, often in even more glowing terms than the drug company could get away with legally.
Our society has institutionalized drug abuse among our children. Worse yet, we abuse our children with drugs rather than making the effort to find better ways to meet their needs. In the long run, we are giving our children a very bad lesson--that drugs are the answer to emotional problems. We are encouraging a generation of youngsters to grow up relying on psychiatric drugs rather than on themselves and other human resources.
The material in this summary is documented with citations to scientific literature in Talking Back to Ritalin. The book also describes non-drug approaches to helping children diagnosed ADHD through identifying and meeting the basic needs of children, and through improvements in school and family life.
If you want to support efforts to stop the psychiatric drugging of children, and to receive a newsletter, we invite you to join the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, 4628 Chestnut Street, Bethesda, MD, 20814. Visit our web site at www.breggin.com.
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Peter R. Breggin, M.D.
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See also "Drugging Children with Ritalin to Curb Hyperactivity" - Antipsychiatry Coalition webmaster Douglas A. Smith's commentary on a Time magazine cover story titled "The Age of Ritalin"