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Deciding on Medication: Four Facts to Consider

Stimulant medications are the most widely used treatment method for ADHD and oftentimes the most assuring.  The effectiveness of medication has been backed up by lots of research, it produces instant results, and your doctor wouldn't prescribe a drug that wasn't safe for children, would she?  While there's no denying that ADHD medications do work for some children, they may not be the best approach for your child.  Here are four facts to consider if you are on the fence about giving stimulant drugs to your child.

Some doctors receive incentives from drug manufacturers

A shocking article in the New York Times reveals that a Harvard educated doctor known for his work on the efficacy of Ritalin failed to disclose receiving money from the drug's manufacturers.  The money he received was no trifle amount either – in 2001, he received as much as $58,000. After his studies were published, sales of Ritalin and other stimulant ADHD medications soared.  Clearly some doctors have vested interests in pushing these drugs to children. If your child's doctor is too hasty in diagnosing your child with ADHD and prescribing stimulants for it, tread with caution and obtain a second opinion. 

Stimulant ADHD medications come from the same family as cocaine

Methylphenidate, the generic name of Ritalin, has the same chemical components as illegal stimulants like cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines. This is why Ritalin is considered a class II substance – it will only be sold to you if you have a prescription for it.  Although taking Ritalin will not necessarily lead to a drug habit in the future, ADHD medications are known to have similar side effects to cocaine. In the short term, children might experience loss of appetite, stunted growth, and insomnia.  With long-term use, however, they are at risk for more serious side effects such as heart failure and psychotic hallucinations.  

ADHD medications do not address the real causes of ADHD

The doctor probably explained to you that ADHD is the result of a chemical imbalance. Due to a lack of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, your child is unable to sit still, sustain concentration, or pay attention.  Taking medications temporarily increases the levels of these two neurotransmitters, which is why they produce instant positive effects.  Although the neurotransmitter deficiency is a valid cause of ADHD, there are a number of environmental factors that trigger this condition. Nutritional deficiencies, inner ear problems, and toxic contamination are just some of the possible causes that cannot be addressed by medication.

ADHD medications cannot provide long-term help

Most parents are impressed by the fact that medications correct behavior almost instantly.  What they are not aware of is that these effects are only temporary; a child has to swallow a pill twice or thrice a day to receive its benefits. Once the drug wears off, the child goes back to experiencing the symptoms of ADHD. Furthermore, studies show that ADHD medications fail to bring any sort of benefit after three years of long-term use.

Although swallowing a pill seems like an easy and convenient solution to ADHD, natural treatments are just as effective at managing the symptoms.  Not only will natural remedies for ADHD bring long-term results, but they will not compromise your child's health and development.