"Behavior Drugs for the Young Debated Anew," Michael Janofsky, New York Times, page 1+, November 25, 1999. The controversy over ADHD and stimulant use just will not end despite the hopes of the proponents of the neurobiological approach to the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD.
Here on the front page of America's national newspaper, the Colorado Board of Education is reported to have passed a resolution urging teachers to rely on discipline and instruction to handle behavior problems in the classroom and discouraging teachers from making recommendations for medical evaluations for ADHD and treatment with Ritalin.
The pro and anti ADHD/Ritalin forces were in attendance at the hearing. Matthew Cohen, president of CHADD made a plea for "common sense" in allowing teachers to offer parents a range of possibilities for helping their children. Peter Breggin, M.D., a psychiatrist, well-known for his anti-medication position stated in the article "We're drugging them (the children) into submission rather than identifying and meting the genuine needs of the family, school and community. It's wrong in principle." I find it incredible but I am not surprised that a school board would feel the need to pass such a resolution but then again we are "the Ritalin Nation."
While I agree in part with Dr. Breggin's statement, unfortunately he generally tends to overstate the case against Ritalin in the individual child. He sets the "questioning Ritalin" camp up for easy counter-attack by more responsible researchers and clinicians. I continue to be troubled by our country's use of a performance enhancer to address a wide range of both serious and minor childhood behavioral and performance issues. However, I maintain that once issues of family and school have been addressed as best as possible and the child continues to struggle it is not unreasonable to try medication. The "debate" (if one can call it that) continues...