Ritalin is medication that started out as a stimulant drug, and today is used to treat attention disorders. The active ingredients in the drug (Methylphenidate) act on the central nervous system in ways that are not yet entirely clear
Ideally, only licensed neurologists or psychiatrists should prescribe Ritalin (or similar drugs such as Concerta, Aderall and others). The ease with which Ritalin is prescribed has brought many parents to wonder whether it really is a wonder-drug – or perhaps a case of mistaken diagnosis. Experienced doctors who specialize in ADHD have rigorous diagnosis criteria, but many general doctors are not aware of these, and may diagnose based on behavior or even the parent’s report of general behaviors.
There are strong reasons and evidence supporting both opinions for and against Ritalin. We will provide an overview of these here, including a table summarizing the pros and cons – You decide!
Why is Ritalin So Popular?
There are a number of reasons why Ritalin has risen to such popularity. First of all, this medication helps 70% of those prescribed, particularly in those trying to manage attention and focus over longer periods of time.
However, some researchers think that a large part of the reason for Ritalin’s popularity is a tendency of some schools and educators to push for an ADHD diagnosis and medication. Particularly in large classrooms with children who are presenting challenging or disruptive behavior.
Perhaps the main reason for Ritalin’s popularity is the way it is treated as if it’s a “wonder drug”. Children who are hyperactive and inattentive don’t only tend to move around a lot, but can have frequent rages or tantrums and get into trouble. The general perception is that one little pill can change all that, giving parents quiet and cooperative children instantly…
Why are Some Parents Calling for a Ban on Ritalin?
One of the claims raised recently against Ritalin is that it is a drug that turns energetic, vibrant and creative children into “zombies”… many parents find it difficult to see their happy and outgoing child turn into a quiet, introverted and even somewhat sleepy and lackluster personality.
Moreover, this chemical compound affects the brain directly, and we don’t really know yet what kinds of long-term effects it may have on growing children. Add to this the addictive element of Ritalin which can turn into a difficult-to-break psychological addiction, particularly if it is taken over a number of years.
The third claim against Ritalin is that in so quickly and completely suppressing ADHD symptoms – this can take something important away from children as well: the life lesson about making a personal effort to overcome challenges. Many children come to rely so completely on Ritalin that they may not learn to manage their emotions, their challenges and their goals on their own. This is supported by an important finding in recent research showing that children and adults who rely solely on medical treatment show cognitive deterioration over time.
What Are the Alternatives to Ritalin?
As a growing trend in both children and teens, and considering the fact that Ritalin doesn’t work for everyone – it is important to know about the natural alternatives, which may be more or less effective for any one person.
Here at the AttenGo site, we can recommend our own solution for helping to overcome and improve attention and concentration.
Brain training for ADHD – online, computerized and based on neuro-cognitive activity. In other words, these are exercises that both balance the neurological activity of the brain while also training core cognitive abilities. Brain training that works!
Our program gives you a personalized, age-appropriate training package, with periodic assessments. It requires training for 30 minutes, 3 times a week – and you’ll see results within a few weeks, guaranteed.
To learn more, click on the ‘Why AttenGo?‘ menu at the top of the page, and read about the theoretical and clinical basis for AttenGo training for ADHD. This is an approach that can provide either an alternative to medical treatment, or a complementary treatment to ensure continued cognitive development!
|Prescribed by doctors. Clinically and experimentally proven||Much of the research is funded by drug companies.|
|Ritalin improves attention and concentration||Ritalin does not help with daily functioning such as organization, decision-making or memory..|
|Ritalin is easy to use and fast-working.||The effect wears off quickly.|
|Helps in 70% of the cases||30% do not feel any effect, and approximately 50% experience unpleasant side effects.|
|Works by increasing dopamine flow in the brain and improves brain function.||Long-term effects are still unclear, but research is showing a rise in depression and criminal behavior in those who take Ritalin.|
|It is possible to use this treatment for years, and even as a lifelong treatment.||Can cause the child or adult to become dependent on the medication, while missing the opportunity to become self-reliant.|
|The medication works almost immediately – behavior changes within an hour.||Children often seem to have changed personalities! Lowered appetite, too quiet and sometimes looks “spaced out”.|
|Ritalin is popular, and many educators and caretakers call for this treatment.||It is easy for teachers and caretakers to ask for something that requires no effort! But there are many things that teachers can do in order to help children with ADHD overcome their academic difficulties.|