Ritalin and Its Uses

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Ritalin and Its Uses

In recent years, more and more kids seem to be on a prescription drug called Ritalin(methylphenidate). This drug is being handed out more and more by doctors as a way of treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a complex neurological impairnment that prevents kids from concentrating. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, it rose fron 200 grams per 100,000 people to over 1400 grams per 100,000 people in the last fifteen years. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that about one student in every classroom is believed to experience the disorder. The rate of Ritalin use in the United States is at least five times higher than in the rest of the world according to federal studies. Are doctors just catching this disabling affliction more often? Or does society just want a convenient way to solve a complicated problem.

Ritalin is a central nervous system stimulant that is somewhat similar to amphetamines. It was created in 1955, classified as a controlled substance in 1971, and became the drug of choice for ADHD in 1981. It is also used in treating narcolepsy. It is thought to activate the brain stem arousal system and cortex, and, like cocaine, works on the neurotransmitter dopamine. It appears to increase the levels of dopamine in the frontal lobe where attention and impulsive actions are regulated. When taken in its intended form under a doctor's prescritption, it has moderate stimulant properties. There has been a great deal of concern about it's addictive qualities and adverse affects.

ADHD is a relatively new disorder. It was introduced in 1980, where it was labeled ADD(attention deficit disorder). In the 1950's, children were simply labeled "hyperkinetic." The term "hyperactivity" was added in 1987, hence the name ADHD. Not all children have the hyperactivity, and thus are labeled to have ADD. ADD is not treated with Ritalin; antidepressants are more commonly used. One of the problems with...
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