Doctors wrote 20 million prescriptions for stimulant drugs to treat ADHD in 2000—a 35 percent increase from 1996. Reflecting a growing public concern about the overuse of stimulant drugs for kids, several states are proposing and passing laws that restrict school officials from recommending drugs to treat behavior problems or to at least consider nonmedical solutions. Legislation is pending in nearly a dozen states.
Because ADHD was originally considered a childhood syndrome discontinuing at puberty, stimulant drug therapy was accepted as short-term. However, by the late ’80s and early ’90s, drug treatment was increasingly appearing in secondary school students. Now it’s not uncommon to find teenagers who are taking two to three medications—Ritalin for ADHD and various other drugs to treat side effects ranging from depression to heart problems. There is no research on the long-term use of stimulant drugs.
Sources: The Zimmerman Group, San Francisco Chronicle, The Block Center, The Learning Enhancement Center.