Say “no” to a quick fix

Dylan Byrd is a 10th-grader at Horizon Instructional Systems, a charter school in Lincoln

Many parents treat their children with Ritalin, Adderall, Dextrostat or other Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) medications. Millions, in fact. Supposedly, these medications improve the child’s grades and reduce his tendencies to misbehave. These medicines would be wonderful—if they would actually do that.

What they actually do is constrict the blood vessels in the brain, causing a decrease in energy. This makes the child sit still and do his or her homework instead of getting distracted or bored. I think this can stunt the intelligence of the child, especially if taken at a young age. It also can interfere with the growth of the child and can cause neurological tics, such as Tourette’s syndrome.

And that’s ignoring the psychological effect on the child. A friend of mine has taken Adderall for some years, and, according to him, it makes him feel less alive. In addition, it suppresses emotion, only allowing anger to get through. Ritalin can be addictive in some cases, and getting off it can be tricky.

Enforcing drug-induced calmness and obedience on children doesn’t allow them to learn self-control on their own. That’s why many parents, thinking that after a few years of Ritalin their child might be cured of ADD, actually find him or her worse.

And it gets worse. Adderall is an improvement on Ritalin, designed to only last 12 hours. It then clears itself out of the child’s system, allowing him or her to sleep at night. But some parents, seeing that it only lasts 12 hours, give their child another dose at night. This causes chronic insomnia, with the child only getting three or four hours of sleep a night, further harming his or her development.

Doctors have been aware of this for some time, of course. Just run a Google search for Ritalin, and you’ll see all sorts of facts about it. The reason they keep prescribing it to people is that it’s a quick, easy fix. The real cure—discipline—takes much longer (which is a problem to this microwave society) and takes more effort on the parents’ behalf.

Please join me in rejecting drug abuse in all its forms. Don’t give drugs like Ritalin or Adderall to your children or suggest them to other people.