The Ritalin Report: The Drug that isnít Safe to use for Landfill (Part Two)

Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

1. Does Ritalin work? Well, that's a bit of a stinker of a question and I apologise for asking it, particularly since I can't answer it. Actually, I honestly don't think anyone else can answer it either. But the diagnosis (and the drug) are certainly popular. More than one in twenty children is said to be suffering from ADHD or ADD or XYZ or whatever else anyone wants to call it, and over a million children are given Ritalin in the U.S.

2. One five-year study of hyperactive children who were given Ritalin at Montreal Children's Hospital, found that the children did not differ in the long-term from hyperactive children who were not given the drug. In Johannesburg, a study of 14 children is said to have produced a response in only two children. One child showed some deterioration and another showed marked deterioration.

3. At least one investigator has reported that drugs like Ritalin may produce a deterioration in learning new skills at school and parents have reported that symptoms have miraculously disappeared during school holidays.

4. The picture is confused by the fact that there may be a short-term improvement in behaviour among children given Ritalin. But is this a real improvement? Or is the child simply drugged and therefore less likely to do anything which might upset parents, social workers or teachers? Amphetamine type drugs reduce the variety of behaviour exhibited by children. A child taking Ritalin might be less disruptive and I can see that being popular in schools. But is the drug really helping the child? And should we give a child a powerful and potentially hazardous drug because it keeps him quiet?

5. There is evidence suggesting that children who are genuinely hyperactive may have been poisoned by food additives or by lead breathed in from air polluted by petrol fumes. If this is so then is giving another potentially toxic drug really the answer to this problem?

End of Part Two
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