Ritalin prescribed for ADD

In the June 2000 issue of SELF-Magazine there was an article called “Could you get hooked on this Pill?” It discussed how adults were misusing Ritalin, a drug meant to treat ADD. It also went into the fact that doctors were still prescribing it to these adults and their children.

Mothers were “borrowing” the medication because it helped them concentrate and then went to the doctor saying little Billy had flushed the medication down the toilet, can you prescribe us some more. Although this article did not explain the results of the studies done, it does show that because information like this is readily available to anyone who wants to read it, it is a real problem that can affect a lot of people all over America.

I have not found any studies focusing on the long term effects of taking Ritalin, but the doctor that was quoted in this article stated that adults taking Ritalin are in for symptoms such as jitteriness, nervousness, and edginess. Many people don’t understand the seriousness of this disorder and even up to 20 years ago believed that it was only caused by hyperactivity.

But now in the twenty-first century there is a big problem with people misusing medication created to help children live normal lives. It is now that doctors must be extremely cautious when prescribing medication because there is a greater risk of drug abuse and addiction.

The Misdiagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder

ADD is a disorder that is very challenging to diagnose because the symptoms can be varying in number and intensity, and still show a positive diagnosis. In the past ten years there have been many studies done on the problems of over-diagnosis and over-prescription. Because it is found in 3-5% of children over the age of seven, it is believed that clinical psychologists are not being precise in their diagnosis.

Ritalin is being prescribed to anyone who might have a few of the symptoms but not the number needed to meet the DSM-IV requirements. If it is believed that a person might have the disorder, a self-checklist can be used to see if it is necessary to see a doctor. Although the checklist should not be used as the only source of diagnosis, it can help. The doctor should have several meetings with the patient and should interview the parents and teachers of the child before prescribing medications.

Symptoms Include:

Fails to pay close attention to detail, Fails to finish an assigned task, Often easily distracted and often Forgetful in daily activities. These criteria are very vague and can be misinterpreted which can also cause a misdiagnosis. An early childhood misdiagnosis can be very traumatic for a child. In some cases a child diagnosed with ADD or ADHD will use this when they don’t want to do something.

They will say things like, I can do that because of my ADD. Medications often help lengthen the attention span of a child but if there is a misdiagnosis and medication is prescribed carelessly and based only on good intention, it can cause a long-term dependence on the drug and can follow in many other dependencies of harder drugs such as cocaine.