Note From the Author:
These essays have yet to be published anywhere but here, so take them for what they're worth.
If you ever happen to cite them in a paper or something, I'd love to hear about it, so drop me an email at: js @ jonathanstephens . com.
ADHD: Stimulant Use & Abuse
So many issues plague and trouble our teens. The recent uprising of ADHD cases and the suspicious link with stimulant use and abuse is leading many to question the methods of distribution of many commonplace medications and the accountability which is used to govern their use. Joseph Carver Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Ohio , has detailed in his 15 page article much information surrounding the disability of ADHD. Much of his credibility lies in his education and 33 years in-field experience and in the painstaking detail with which he wrote his article. ABCNews is a well-known and highly public organization that would be susceptible to open criticism if it were be dishonest or incorrect. Let us discuss ADHD, the causes, diagnosis, symptoms, behavioral patterns, and home management and with ABC News the abuse of such stimulants as Ritalin and Adderall among teens of today.
Since the public is so ready to medicate our children at the first sight of ADD and other related disabilities, we must, as a responsible society, be ready to handle the issues that arise from our oftentimes careless diagnoses. ADHD is a neurological problem. Many think it is because of lack of discipline or some type of brain damage or injury. It is actually a chemical imbalance, he says. When the chemicals are not right, children simply are not capable of functioning, learning, and remembering correctly. Although many times this can be counterbalanced by training and routines, it sometimes does require medicinal aid (Carver 1). It is in the actual diagnosis of the disorder that many of the problems arise.
The lists with which they diagnose children with ADD or ADHD seem amazingly simple and broad. It appears as though all kids need to be souped up with medicine to help them control themselves. It is no wonder that the numbers of children on Ritalin, Adderall, and other such drugs are rising at record rates. What might surprise most people is the corresponding rise in drug misuse and abuse among teens. "A growing number of young people are snorting Ritalin - a much-lauded drug for hyperactive children - to lose weight, study for exams, and in some cases, just to get high, according to some drug experts" (Wonder 1). Students are experts at learning the system, and although many of them claim to understand the realities of drug abuse, they do not seem to qualify Ritalin as a drug, whether because it's a prescription drug or because so many friends they know are taking it - how could it be harmful to them. Students with just a small amount of research are skilled enough to trick the doctor into subscribing them to a Ritalin prescription, have found ways of buying it online by simply lying about their symptoms, or by purchasing it from a friend or acquaintance at school. Some kids have been known to make upwards of $600 by selling the individual pills from their prescription (Wonder 2). Is it really that easy to fake the symptoms from the list doctors use to diagnose patients?
The list of ADD symptoms in children and teens includes the following: failing to give close attention to details, makes careless mistakes, difficulty sustaining attention, doesn't listen when spoken to, doesn't follow through on instructions, leaves jobs half-finished, has difficulty organizing, avoids or dislikes jobs that require effort, loses necessary things, is easily distracted, and is often forgetful (Carver 3). ADHD simply takes many of the ADD symptoms and adds hyperactivity to it. Can this be faked or, even worse, be possible in too many children to keep track of? We must keep conscious of the fact that this is a real disorder that many kids do suffer from, but many doctors are prescribing Ritalin at the slightest sign of child misconduct and parental lack of control. Does the responsibility in our culture ever fall on parents?
What results is a list that Carver calls his "Home Management Recommendations." It is a list filled with great ideas for parenting ANY child, regardless of whether the certain child has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. Such stellar ideas as establishing rules, giving the child chores and responsibilities, understanding the child's forgetful nature, giving them short to-do lists, realizing they sometimes don't hear you, and adjusting any punishments to the child and the incident (Carver 14) seem overtly obvious and inane. Couple the ambiguous line between ADHD and childish with the increasing tendency toward serious misuse and addiction from this extremely available drug, and we might have a rising problem. The problem may go even deeper than imagined. "I have known parents who said they took Ritalin prescribed for their child themselves, or gave it to their other children, 'just to see if it helps.' Unfortunately, as useful as the medication is for children who truly have ADHD, if often is seen as completely benign and readily accessible" (Wonder 1).
With so many of our students under the effects of Ritalin and other such drugs and the outside pressures and requirements for teachers to treat students equally and fairly in our minds, the lines become blurred between poor behavior and poor chemical balance, inadequate discipline and inadequate medicine. Teachers have a distinct responsibility surrounding the health of our students, specifically regarding any drug use/abuse education, awareness, and support we may be able to offer and integrate into the classroom, but with students taking these drugs to stay awake to do our homework, to feel emotionally stable in our classroom environment, and to fit in socially inside and outside of our classrooms, an increased awareness of this recently silent issue is crucial.
Carver, Joseph M, Ph. D. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) . Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist. Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility. 3/1/04. <http://www.drjoecarver.com/adhd.html>.
Wonder Drugs Misused . ABCNews.com: Teens Abusing and Selling Ritalin for High. ABCNews.com. 3/1/04. <http://abcnews.go.com/sections/GMA/Living/GMA030225Ritalin_abuse.html>.
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