Parents ask for Ritalin -- to boost grades

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Day Care & Education

In an attempt to raise their kids' grades, it seems some parents are following the examples set by professional athletes and looking for chemical solutions. According to an MSNBC article, they're after drugs that they think will help their kids do better in school and get better grades. It's called academic doping and it began at exclusive, competitive colleges including the elite ivy league schools.

Now, however, it is spreading to high schools where parents are turning to prescriptions to help with their desire for their children to excel. "I spoke with [some] colleagues the other day and they mentioned three cases recently where parents blatantly asked for the medication so that their children would perform better in school, yet there were no other indications that the child had ADHD," says Dr. Nick Yates, a pediatrician and director of medical ethics for Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y.

Some parents truly believe that ADHD is causing their children to perform below their potential while others are simply looking for an advantage, even if it is illegal. Taking drugs for reasons other than those for which they are recommended is extremely dangerous. In 2004, the National Institutes of Health and McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School did a study using rats which suggested that children who take prescription drugs for ADHD but do not have the disorder may be at higher risk for developing depressive symptoms in adulthood. In addition, the side effects of ADHD drugs include difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, headaches, tics, tremors and more. It is possible that ADHD medication temporarily delays growth, and one study found that some children get a sensation that bugs or snakes are crawling on their bodies.

I think that the obvious conclusion here is that only doctors should prescribe drugs and only after serious diagnosis. It seems ridiculous that parents would do this sort of thing, and yet, they do. I don't get it.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.