The debate rages on about whether or not it is advisable to give children Ritalin to help them control their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some parents are steadfast believers in the calming power of this medication, while others prefer to take their child by the hand and walk the non-chemical route of psychoanalysis.
THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF DRUGS
Methylphenidate was synthesised in 1944, patented in 1954, and primarily used for chronic fatigue, lethargic and depressed states, and disturbed senile behaviour.Today it is available for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy.
While some fear that Ritalin is becoming increasingly overprescribed, there may sometimes be a very real need for its use when ADHD is correctly diagnosed. But the emphasis here must be on use and not abuse.
When taken according to prescription directions, Ritalin induces an increase in inhibition of impulsivity that helps the child focus in the classroom. 2 Ritalin may cause insomnia, stomachache, headache and weight loss. Sometimes these side effects are mild and can be managed but if they persist, use of the drug may be reconsidered.
While parents should be aware of the potential side effects of Ritalin, they should be extremely cautious regarding its abuse, of which there is an increasing pattern amongst adolescents.