Is Ritalin Safe for Treating Adhd Children?

By: Alvin Toh

Ritalin is one of the most prevalent drugs used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is prescribed to thousands of children under the age of 18 every year. While Ritalin has been shown to help in severe cases of ADHD, it may not be beneficial in mild cases as its side effects may be worse than the symptoms of ADHD. Ritalin has varying side effects on children, some of which can be potentially harmful.

Ritalin causes stunted growth in children. A new study conducted by the Child Development Center of the University of California, Irvine found that children who took Ritalin for three years were about an inch shorter and weighed 4.4 pounds less than other children in their age group. It is not known if these children ever regain their normal height. The long-term neurological effects of Ritalin remain unknown.

Another possible problem with treating ADHD children with Ritalin is the potential for addiction and abuse. Ritalin is a stimulant and is categorized as an amphetamine. All amphetamines carry with them a likely risk of addiction. A study found that children who took Ritalin for more than 3 years have a greater risk of substance abuse and committing crime.

Many adolescents and young adults snort Ritalin in a way similar to snorting cocaine. They think that Ritalin is a cheaper and safer alternative to cocaine. However, Ritalin has dangerous side effects whether taken orally or inhaled. This could be a short leap from using prescription amphetamines such as Ritalin to using illegal street amphetamines in the future.

Other side effects of Ritalin include headaches, stomach upsets, reduced appetite, depression, irritability, anxiety, increased blood pressure, sleep difficulties and nervousness. When the side effects of taking Ritalin are severe, they can be worse than ADHD symptoms, making them an ineffective treatment.

Instead of treating mild to moderate cases of ADHD with drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall, some believe that dietary changes can help control ADHD symptoms naturally. Many processed foods contain dyes, addictives, preservatives and artificial flavoring that can cause allergic reactions in people with ADHD. Avoid excessive intake of sugar as it can cause hyperactivity. Consume fresh and wholesome foods. Herbal remedies may also be helpful to treat ADHD without the harmful side effects or possibility of addiction or abuse. Behavioral therapies have more positive and lasting benefits.

With so many side effects of Ritalin and its long-term effects remain unknown, it is best to consider alternative treatments for ADHD. Discuss all treatment options with your doctor carefully to ensure that Ritalin is only the last line of treatment for ADHD.

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