Day 380: Mommy, can I have Another Ritalin?

Why do children develop ADD/ADHD? As with all things psychological, there are many possible contributors, but no one actually knows the answer. So, in the face of uncertainty, we will say it could be one or more of a hundred different things - that way we have all of our bases covered.

From the biological perspective, scientists/researchers have found that ADD/ADHD shows a higher prevalence rate within families, which suggests a genetic predisposition. There are also some who believe that the symptoms of over activity, short attention span and impulsiveness suggest nervous system involvement. Wow, sounds pretty scary when you put it like that.

Other factors such as maternal smoking during pregnancy, low birth weigh, oxygen deprivation during birth, cigarette and alcohol exposure, lead poisoning, and fetal alcohol syndrome have also been found to contribute to a child developing ADD/ADHD.

Then of course there's the diet being a possible cause, such as high sugar or certain chemicals and preservatives.

Obviously when taking all these (and more) possible things into consideration one must also bear in mind the family situation of the child - such as abuse, marital discord, neglect, low social class, large family size, family conflicts, maternal psychopathology, paternal criminality, maternal mental disorder, and foster care placement.

As most of us are well aware, Ritalin is the most common treatment for ADD/ADHD. In the last 50 years or so, pharmaceutical companies have made a killing off of Ritalin sales. Here's a little bit of information about Ritalin (Methylphenidate):

ADHD and some other conditions are believed to be linked to sub-performance of the dopamine, norepinephrine, and glutamate processes in the brain, primarily in the pre-frontal cortex and peripheral cortex, responsible for self-regulation functions, leading to self-regulation disorders compromising the sufferer's attention, self-control, behaviour, motivation, and executive function; methylphenidate primarily works by reducing the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine which improves the levels and utility of these neurotransmitters in the brain. Methylphenidate possesses some structural and pharmacological similarities to cocaine, though methylphenidate is less potent and longer in duration. - Wikipedia

Interesting, Ritalin has a similar pharmacological structure to cocaine... I wonder how many parents are aware that that is what they are giving to their children?

The brain is like a muscle, which would mean that the actions (exercises) that a person performs over and over will determine which part of the muscle becomes strong. The converse would be applicable for those actions that are infrequently performed - the muscle would be "underdeveloped". It is easy to say that someone's brain is not functioning properly in some aspect, like in the case of ADD/ADHD, but if the child, for whatever reason, does not exercise the particular parts of his/her brain that control attention and discipline, then how can anyone expect the child to not have ADD/ADHD?

Children do not magically develop into fully functioning adults with good all-round skills to be used to contribute toward the collective existence of our society without any environmental influences. We keep saying how terrible our schools have become and how people don't actually know how to be parents, especially if they themselves had crap parents - is it any wonder that our kids are turning out to be psychotic little drug addicts the can't concentrate for more than 5 minutes? Why does the psychological community pussy-foot around the issue of parenting, when it is such an obvious factor? Why is Ritalin allowed to be given to children when simple parenting changes can cause a marked improvement?

Comments

  1. You know what? You're full of SHIT. Just because its structure is similar to that of cocaine does not mean that it's the same thing.
    I grew up in an incredibly structured environment. Both my parents are mathematicians with Ph.Ds. I wasn't allowed to watch TV until second grade, and even then it was only after I'd done my homework. I grew up eating my vegetables and never eating "junk food."
    AND I STILL HAVE ADHD
    My meds saved my life. I didn't even get diagnosed until I was 17 and in college (skipped a grade). I'm SMART, I just can't focus and do my homework, cleaning, or even sit still to watch a movie.
    People like you made me spend my entire life thinking that I had an inherent lack of self-control or self-discipline. My meds increase my brain activity to a point at which it's not understimulated, so I'm no longer seeking mental stimulation and I can pay attention and sit still.
    Caffeine has the same effect on me, just to a lesser extent, and it always has.

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    1. This post is not a personal attack on you or your life. This post is meant to shine a light on how little we know about our minds, bodies and the drugs we use so carelessly. I am not saying that Ritalin doesn't work - it does work on 70 - 90% of patients, but we don't know how or why it works, much less what the long term consequences may be, not only on ourselves but also on future generations. The entire medical/psychological/psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry is just that: an industry. Do you really think that the corporations making the drugs and funding the research care about helping people or finding a cure? They care about the profitability of their products. While we focus all this time, energy and resources on trying to "make the symptoms go away", we could be considering alternate ways to, first of all, prevent disorders and second of all to treat them so that they are "cured". This would require a much more thorough understanding of the human functioning, which we quite cleverly are trying to stuff under the rug. Our entire society is one that is centered around convenience, fast-food type lifestyles, quick fixes and whatever is the trending form of entertainment - none of these things are conducive to a real investigation of the human state. If there was another way to treat ADD/ADHD that did not include taking drugs, and was based on a thorough understanding of the condition - would you not prefer it over Ritalin? Such a treatment may not be possible right now, but it should be. Check out this post, it expands on the question of what do we really know about the human mind and the drugs we take: http://journey-of-lindsay.blogspot.com/2013/06/day-421-psychopathology-pharmaceutical.html

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  2. You just don't get it, do you?

    You are making ADHD sound much more mysterious than it really is. For example:

    "Interesting, Ritalin has a similar pharmacological structure to cocaine... "

    There's nothing 'interesting' about that fact at all. Cocaine is a stimulant. Stimulants help those with ADHD function. There's nothing remotely surprising about Ritalin having a similar pharmacological structure to ADHD. tT's like me saying, "Interestingly, albuterol, which is used inhalers to treat asthma, is also sometimes abused to increase athletic performance."

    Prevent the disorder...? Cure it...? Treating the symptoms...? What? Okay, MAYBE there are some ways to increase the likelihood of a child with ADHD growing out of the disorder once they reach adulthood, because the brain is still developing. I'll give you that, especially because so many do grow out of it.

    But curing it? How exactly do you imagine that working? Like, brain surgery?

    You talk about treating the symptoms like that's just covering up the problem, but here's the thing: ADHD IS the symptoms. If I take a pill every morning that alters my brain chemistry in such a way that the symptoms of ADHD do not manifest themselves...that's treating the source of the problem. It's not a permanent cure, but it isn't a cure none the less. Some people with ADHD have such an extremely positive reaction to the medication that almost all of the problems they were dealing with disappear when they're on it, and their lives are turned around.

    You are talking about some hypothetical treatment that literally does not exist, and criticizing treatments that have been proven to be effective.

    "Children do not magically develop into fully functioning adults with good all-round skills to be used to contribute toward the collective existence of our society without any environmental influences. "

    Actually...many do. It's called Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder because it's a DISORDER. The vast majority of people do not have to deal with this problem. You'll often see that adults with ADHD perform adequately academically as kids because of the more structured environment of school, but fall apart once they reach college. Why? Because ADHD is all about being unable to motivate yourself without immediate outside consequences. It doesn't matter how much they practiced 'paying attention'. Once they have to rely solely on their own initiative, they're screwed over.

    The fact that you blame parenting shows how little you understand this disorder. It's absolutely true that parents can play a huge role in helping their kids develop good habits...but those habits don't make the ADHD go away. It just helps you manage it. You're not dealing with a kid who is disobedient to you. You're dealing with a kid who is disobedient to themselves. Controlling impulses is much, much harder for them.

    I've been trying to get myself to sleep on time with the help of a life coach. Do you know how much elaborate bullshit I have to pull to get myself to do it? Alarms, a program to turn the computer off, changing when I take a shower... And I still am not completely successful. These kids don't need 'good parenting'. They need elaborate psychologically based techniques to work around their disorder.

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    1. Disorders are only disorders because we say they are. Every person has unique skills and learning requirements - shoving kids into schools where they are taught to be obedient little production line workers serves only one purpose: to dumb people down. If only a small percentage of students excel (and those are, in general, the ones who conform the best) then the education system is failing the majority of children. Is it any wonder that kids get bored learning what they learn in school? How useful is what we learn in school really? How much does anyone actually remember, or even use of what they learned in school?
      To accept without question our society is a disorder of the mind far worse than what some "disturbed" people suffer from.
      "You'll often see that adults with ADHD perform adequately academically as kids because of the more structured environment of school, but fall apart once they reach college. Why? Because ADHD is all about being unable to motivate yourself without immediate outside consequences. It doesn't matter how much they practiced 'paying attention'. Once they have to rely solely on their own initiative, they're screwed over." - You have proven my point right here. We are not taught by our schools or parents to direct ourselves, at least not all of us are. The lack of motivation is just another way of saying lack of discipline. It is easy for us to live our lives according to what other people tell us we must or should do, but to live and choose for ourselves is something entirely different. It is something that is learned and practiced. I am not telling you how to live or what to believe. I am suggesting that we all should question more deeply that which we have accepted at face value, because simply accepting what we are told is easier than realising that we are, in fact, responsible for ourselves and the world

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    2. *buries face in hands*

      Tell me, then...

      If ADHD is the result of school and parents...

      Why do most people not have ADHD?

      Again, you really aren't getting how this actually works.

      Parents can teach you how to COPE with ADHD, but they can't get RID of the ADHD. Having ADHD means you have to work much, much harder than everyone else to keep up.

      Having ADHD means having alarms for EVERYTHING. ADHD means writing every single thing down because otherwise you WILL forget it. ADHD is an intelligent, mature person standing in front of a messy room, utterly paralyzed, with no idea how to start, because the complexity of the task. It's forgetting everyone's name, or drifting off in the middle of a conversation.

      You can't be 'taught' out of ADHD. You can only learn techniques to compensate. Techniques that OTHER people do not need to learn how to employ.

      Unless, of course, you happen to find a medication that works for you.

      You know what's really funny to me? You think you're speaking for those poor oppressed people diagnosed with ADHD, but you really don't understand shit.

      I mean, you blame schools for being boring and teaching useless subjects! For you, this isn't about people struggling with ADHD. It's about trying to turn this into a critique of the school system and society.

      Do you think that we stop having ADHD the moment we leave a classroom? That our tastes and understanding are just too refined to tolerate the evil, bland, authoritarian school system?

      Laughable.

      People without ADHD are so funny. They think that their puny little motivation problem which they overcame with discipline is comparable to ADHD. Let me tell yah, sister: it ain't.

      But I bet it makes you feel superior, doesn't it? If only those people with ADHD would learn some self-discipline! If only those suicidal people would look on the bright side! Those people with panic disorders should just calm down! PTSD? Get over it!

      Please, oh wise one. Explain to me what having ADHD is like. You know so much about it, clearly.

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    3. http://activistsjourneytolife.blogspot.com/2013/06/day-381-dont-blame-me-i-have-disease.html

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    4. So, how many studies have you done back that up?

      ...

      Did you know that a child with ADHD has a 1/5 chance of having a mother with ADHD and a 1/3 chance of having a father with ADHD? That they've actually shown that children with ADHD have a frontal lobe that is 2-3 years behind in terms of development? That they've found that a person who has two particular genes and a mother that smoked during pregnancy is eight times more likely to have ADHD? That if an identical twin has ADHD, there is a 75-92% chance of them having it too?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=SCAGc-rkIfo#t=3117s

      There, a link into to a presentation, to the part on the causes of ADHD and the evidence for it.

      You fancy yourself an activist. It's good to be informed. Why don't you watch that video from the beginning, too?

      So...are you interested in being informed? Can you accept that, maybe, you're wrong about this? Or are you so wedded to your worldview that the actual evidence and the experiences of those with ADHD are less important than your own speculations?

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    5. Studies, research - unfortunately the starting point for most is one of self interest, trying to prove a point, instead of a real intent to find out the truth. Every theory has multiple studies, multiple perspectives and each one has been proven AND disproven AND given inconclusive results. I am sad to say that scientists/researchers simply cannot be trusted. At this point, we must do things ourselves to know for sure, because people cannot be trusted to do what is right for everyone, only what is right for themselves.
      These statistics you use, I have seen them, as well as many other sets - all with different percentages and results. Researchers are quick to present their findings - but not all of it. What is often not mentioned, or not emphasised, is that researchers find connections between disorders and potential causes, but they have no idea which one is the cause and which is the result - all they know is that there is a connection. Familial/genetic prevalence rates could just as easily be connected to the similar environments that the children grow up in, the similar neighbourhoods, similar parenting styles. The next point is that if there is a genetic marker for a disorder, many studies have found that those markers serve more as a predisposition than as a definite cause for the disorder. For example, babies born with certain short alleles showed predispositions for anxiety disorders, or for being more sensitive to emotional situations. But, when those babies were raised in a supportive environment, they developed normally and did not have anxiety disorders. Researchers have not been able to duplicate these results in other studies, as well as the fact that some children with the genetic predisposition (ie short alleles) who were raised in stressful environments did NOT develop/activate the anxiety disorder/characteristic.
      People with disorders like ADHD do develop more slowly, but researchers do not know if that causes ADHD or if it is an effect of ADHD.
      Do not be so quick to believe everything you find, as there is always contradictory evidence. Science is, contrary to popular belief, NOT objective, but is subjective.
      Many abnormal behaviours and disorders are the result of our own ignorance - we can change this bye focusing our attention on how we came to be where we are and redirecting ourselves to another path that is free from depression, anxiety, stress etc disorders. Do not say that it is impossible until you have lived it yourself, tested it yourself, pushed yourself to ask every question and consider every answer. Psychology has some useful information, but it is clouded with assumptions and opinions.

      The statistics and research study info I used is from a book called: Understanding Abnormal Behavior, by Sue, Sue and Sue - 9th edition.

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    6. All Science Is Invalid. No studies allowed. Just your opinion against mine.

      All right... I'll humor you.

      What is the cure for ADHD? Clearly you know far more about my 'disorder' than I possibly could. I'd love to get rid of it, after all. I'm all ears.

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    7. I have a friend who had ADHD for years, she did psychotherapy, drugs, you name it. She has been using self forgiveness and tools to deconstruct herself, essentially. I will ask her to share her experience.
      Another friend has had success with stopping OCD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpnUAkXHQ08
      Another friend bulimia and anorexia: http://malingunilla.blogspot.com/2013/03/when-anorexia-tests-you-and-you-fail.html
      Here is a vlog discussing why French children don't have ADHD: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCxAV3krmls

      At this point, there is no "cure" - what there is is an opportunity to no longer define ourselves according to the labels created by humanity to avoid self responsibility. Self responsibility is the key: to realise that we are entirely responsible for who we are and what we do/think in every moment, taking into consideration our own "strengths" and "weaknesses" - we do not need to define ourselves and live as slaves to what we have always thought as having power over us.
      There is a lot of information to be discovered - I am not saying that all of psychology is wrong, but like everything in this world we've created, there is some "good/truth" to be found amidst all the "not so good".
      Question everything, test it for yourself, find out what is real, find out what stands the test of time

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    8. I guess I'd be interested in her experience, I don't see how self-forgiveness could help with ADHD...or how OCD and eating disorders are comparable to it.

      Here's the thing...

      You say:

      "Question everything, test it for yourself, find out what is real, find out what stands the test of time."

      But I don't think you really believe that.

      I think what you really believe is that people should question things you disagree with, ignore any tests that don't confirm your beliefs, accept what you think is real, and keep trying things your way, even if it doesn't work.

      Know why I know that? Because you actually believed in questioning, testing, etc. then you would actually acknowledge my experience.

      I was only diagnosed with ADHD recently, as I said. Before that, I had tried just about everything to fix what was wrong with me. I read books, checked out websites, visited professionals... I was depressed and anxious, and I hated myself. I wondered what was wrong with me, and why I couldn't just do the things I set out to do. When things got really bad, I would think that, if I couldn't figure out a way to change my behavior, I might have to kill myself, because I couldn't deal with the possibility that all of my dreams were destined never to be realized.

      Now, I'm taking medication. I've got a life coach deals with a lot of people who have ADHD. Both have been a huge help, and I feel like I'm finally starting to take control of my life.

      That video on French kids not having ADHD...It did not reflect my experience. I couldn't relate to what she spoke of. It felt like she was talking about an entirely different issue.

      Yet whenever Russell Barkley, from the video I posted a link to, opens his mouth to describe the experience of having ADHD, I want to hug the crap out of him. I want to scream, "YES! That's EXACTLY what it's like! You GET IT! THANK YOU!"

      After all of those years of struggling and wandering, I have finally found the path to my objective. It's not necessarily an easy path, and it's gonna be a long one, but I can see everything I've ever wanted in the distance, and I'm getting a little closer every day.

      But does any of that matter to you? I'd like to think so, but I don't think it does. My introspection, my search, and my progress aren't valid because they don't conform to your worldview. The same goes for anyone who shares my experience, I'm sure.

      I'd still be happy to see your friend's experience, and if she's had any success with it. Could always do with some useful techniques.

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    9. http://self-commitment-of-carrie.blogspot.com/2013/06/day-137-adderall-or-life.html - here you go, she has started sharing her experience, more to come.

      No need to be offensive - there is always the potential for good and useful things in any given thing (think religion: Jesus did say "love thy neighbour" and "do unto another as you would like to be done unto you" amongst all the killing, unmercifulness and general abusive stuff) - so if you have found something that helps, then great.

      You know what matters to me? A world where ADHD doesn't exist, because people do not use disorders to be special, get attention and generally act like a toddler still in their terrible two's (for example - no need to get upset and take this personally).
      I want a world where there is no depression, anxiety, stress, body image issues - a world in which people really know themselves and know what kind of thoughts lead to what kind of results ("I look fat in this"), people who know how to breathe in a tough situation and not become consumed by it, people who feel empathy instead of "me, me, me".
      Maybe in a world like that we wouldn't be so distracted by all our "issues" and would actually pay attention to the world and other people around us - notice that we're destroying and poisoning our planet, committing genocide on a daily basis and are allowing billions to live in conditions that we would not want to live in.

      So forgive me for not feeling sorry for you, any disorder is simply an indication of humanity's selfishness and lack of personal insight and honesty.

      Forgive me for not validating your belief about yourself and your disorder, because I know that you could do and be so much more than "someone with ADHD" - if you believe that this is all you will ever be and know then you are setting yourself up in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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    10. http://self-commitment-of-carrie.blogspot.com/2013/06/day-138-lets-be-honest-i-like-high.html

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  3. lol, judging by this entire rant, you'd think that a person having to deal with "ADHD" has it the worst of all in the whole wide world. Seems that this whole ADHD ploy is a nice excuse that people can use to focus all their attention on themselves and their problems --- so, obviously one would then experience 'attention deficit' when it comes to the rest of the world. I mean, a lot of these 'mental illnesses' would be cured if we wouldn't be so self-involved.

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  4. I kind of stumbled onto this debate and hopefully I’ll be adding something useful… not trying to change anybody’s opinions on the topic.

    “Psychology has some useful information, but it is clouded with assumptions and opinions”

    Yes, psychology isn’t a hard science, that’s because it’s really really really difficult to study what’s going on in somebody’s head. Being a psych researcher myself, (I hope) researchers want to get to the truth. There are dozens of theories about any psychological phenomenon you can imagine and researchers are constantly debating amongst themselves and pointing out the flaws in each other’s research in hopes of improving the knowledge in the field. Also, psychology isn’t about proving anything…. it’s about looking at the evidence and objectively determining the most plausible explanation.

    “The entire medical/psychological/psychiatric/pharmaceutical industry is just that: an industry. Do you really think that the corporations making the drugs and funding the research care about helping people or finding a cure?”

    Unfortunately most of the things in this world revolve around money (it’s also not very plausible to just ask everyone in the world to stop thinking about money and think about the world and others around them… that just won’t happen). Just because the drug industry is an industry doesn’t mean all research on medication or psychotherapy is fake. Sure there are many ways to treat mental disorders out there, and different treatments work better for different people. For some people, Ritalin is a miracle. For others, self forgiveness works great. For yet other people, behavioural therapy might be the best. This is because every single person is different and so is their mental illness. We can only do our best to inform the public about the different options out there and give people the opportunity to find what is best for them.

    “You know what matters to me? A world where ADHD doesn't exist, because people do not use disorders to be special, get attention and generally act like a toddler still in their terrible two's”

    The way things work in this world is that the majority of people can thrive, whereas the 30% or so left behind are outcasts who don’t function well in that particular environment. There are 2 paths for these outcasts: they can change themselves and “become normal”, or they can change the environment. Changing the environment is difficult because that will mean upsetting the majority of people who are happy with the way things are. Changing themselves is also very difficult, it’s not something willpower can achieve (can you will yourself to grow a third arm? I hope not). Outcast, special, weird, whatever you want to call it, these people are in some way different from the 70% majority, and they can’t help it. It’s statistics, natural distribution, there will always be someone on the extreme ends of a spectrum.

    “So forgive me for not feeling sorry for you, any disorder is simply an indication of humanity's selfishness and lack of personal insight and honesty”

    “I mean, a lot of these 'mental illnesses' would be cured if we wouldn't be so self-involved.”

    Blaming the victim will not make mental illness disappear. The way I see selfishness contributing to mental illness is when people refuse to acknowledge that those with mental disorders are facing very real problems, problems that can’t be solved by willing themselves to “be normal”, problems that can’t be solved by realising that humanity is selfish etc. Humans will continue to be selfish (it’s human nature, logically we can’t help but see everything in our own perspective first) and mental illness will never disappear, we can only do our best to acknowledge those living with mental illness, and maybe do our best to help them (if they want “help” of course).

    Thank you for reading my very long comment

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    1. http://activistsjourneytolife.blogspot.com/2013/06/day-382-psychology-be-mine.html

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  5. Selfishness contributing to mental illness in this world would also be - defending knowledge and information that defines the accepted problem without walking through and reading all the blogs being shared here written by people putting in a daily effort to write out their process of standing up from within their disorder / problem and sharing how the'yre actually changing through supporting themselves and getting to the reality of what is in fact problems that require the use of medications / chemical supports, and what is in fact just a personality that is entirely self created which can be changed with self forgiveness

    "Humans will continue to be selfish (it’s human nature, logically we can’t help but see everything in our own perspective first)"

    In reading the blogs shared you would also see that human nature is just a program that can be changed through taking self responsibility which requires an actual decision to become what is best for all and stop existing within selfishness. The step by step process of changing human nature is in fact shared in what has now become thousands and thousands of blog posts written by people walking their Journey to Life, and if one has even the smallest spark of self respect one would read the blogs and consider the message of self responsibility, self honesty, and self forgiveness to change self to what is best for all. Obviously to ignore such a message would indicate not an 'unchangeable human nature', but a deliberate decision to continue allowing a world of selfishness and ego and abuse simply to protect your life as it is and self definition as it is. Would be a shame for anyone to accept such self limitation.

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