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[P]
Tobacco Lawyers now looking at Ritalin

By Alorelith in News
Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:04:17 AM EST
Tags: News (all tags)
News

Richard Scruggs, the lawyer who led the settlement between U.S. states and the tobacco industry in 1998, called the lawsuits against the makers of hyperactivity disorder drug Ritalin the country's ``next class-action battleground.''

This basically sums up the whole case this man has against the drug Ritalin. Scruggs heads a group of lawyers alleging in two law suits that the makers or Ritalin conspired to create the disease Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). He says that the health of more than 4 million children is at stake because they are taking a drug that they do not need (a placebo, perhaps?)


Once again, billions of dollars in damages are the foundation for this class-action seeking lawsuit. Scruggs says, ``These suits represent the latest class-action battleground in the U.S., but since it involves kids, this is that much more important. Ninety percent of all Ritalin is sold in the United States. We think it's a pretty tough case to say that ADHD is a disease that doesn't exist in Europe, but exists here.'' I find this to be quite an interesting quote; however, because it lacks a specific citation, I can't vouch whether it's true or not. Even if it was (and correct me if I'm making a poor analogy here), isn't that the same as saying that since Africa has the vast majority of AIDS cases in the world, that it's unlikely that AIDS actually exists because most of the cases are in Africa? According to this CNN article(Click on Quick Facts), North America and Europe combined have an approximate total of 1.3 million with AIDS, while Africa in comparison has a total of over 24 million. Very few people are saying that AIDS isn't real just because one continent is experience a huge surge in AIDS compared to another.

AIDS is a cultural disease. To thrive, it depends upon a culture of ignorance and general apathy. Perhaps the cultures in Europe and other areas are not ripe for ADHD cases?

While it's possible that Scruggs's opinion is correct, current research seems to point against it. ``My sense is that the symptoms of ADHD are pretty well defined and there are a number of clinical criteria required before a child is allowed to go on the drug,'' Merrill Lynch analyst James Culverwell said from London. ``When the child does take the drug, it is generally remarkably effective. So any suggestion that this disease is make-believe seems highly unlikely,'' he said.

What do you think?

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Tobacco Lawyers now looking at Ritalin | 53 comments (53 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Placebo (2.57 / 14) (#1)
by unayok on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 10:44:14 PM EST

This is an interesting article, but I can't quite get past this

they are taking a drug that they do not need (a placebo, perhaps?)
A drug that people do not need is not a placebo. Ok, Ok, so it's nitpicky. (I also think the comparison to AIDS is somewhat shaky as we've got a very very very strong candidate for the causative agent of HIV, but none (so far as I know) for ADHD. The environments of Western Europe and the US are fairly similar. Enough so that the relative absence of ADHD in Europe is indeed suspect.)

Definitely worth watching this one.

All predicted (4.11 / 18) (#2)
by PresJPolk on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 10:55:30 PM EST

Read "Brave New World" and "Brave New World Revisited" by Aldous Huxley. His predictions are all too correct, so far, right down to flashing messages in advertising (as the G. W. Bush presidential campaigners have been caught doing).

The "need" for more people to go on Ritalin has the same cause as the "need" for more people to go on Prozac: our society is sick. One needs drugs to be able to function in the way we're expected to function in it.

Of course the drugs are "remarkably effective" at doing what they're expected to do. Modern science is advancing exponentially. The problem is that the drugs only fix the symptoms, not the problems.

Suing people won't do anything, though. Simply examine the role of government and corporations, especially mass media corporations, in our lives. Simplify that, and the problems will subside.

Re: All predicted (2.00 / 1) (#8)
by mike-c on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:41:12 AM EST

Funny that you mention Prozac because, as I recall, it's similar in size, color, and function to Huxley's soma.
-- "If things don't go your way, just keep complaining until your dreams come true." -- President Clinton to Lisa Simpson
[ Parent ]
Re: All predicted (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by Wah on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 04:02:53 PM EST

I agree with this concept. I guess somewhere along the line it turned out that eight year olds didn't have enough attention to act like sheep. Must be a brain chemical problem, it surely couldn't be because there are twice as many kids in a class and half as much discipline, or the fact that 50% of their diet is straight sugar, or the fact that they are exposed to vast amounts of teaching that comes in 15 and 30 second sound bites.

I'm happy for all of you that found normalcy in a drug, I've done so myself from time to time, but I feel sorry for the fact that you need this type of crutch to conform to what you feel is important. (yes, I'm being quite harsh)
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
I'm for an investigation, not a lawsuit (3.66 / 15) (#3)
by adamsc on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 11:24:43 PM EST

I've seen numerous studies and doctors' comments suggesting that Ritalin is a very overprescribed drug. I think Mr. Culverwell is describing what should be the case as I've seen way to many articles stating the exact opposite, namely that a prescription is easy to get.

The problem I have with this, however, is bringing in lawyers. It's not clear that this is a problem and I think it'd be worth avoiding another Dow-Corning, where science proves the lawyers wrong only after they destroy a company. There's also a much bigger issue, namely the question of who to sue:

  • the company which produces a useful drug which some people misuse?
  • the doctor who writes a prescription because they know the parent will just go somewhere else if they don't?
  • the parent wants to drug the kid they can't handle?[1]

If they can prove that some groups conspired to sell unnecessary drugs, they might have a case. At this point it looks more like they found something that could sway a jury and some groups with money to use it against.

[1] I heard one particularly disturbing story from a joint-custody case where the father would pick up his obviously heavily drugged kid (lethargy, no interest in much beyond TV, etc.), watch his unmedicate son become a normal kid again over the weekend and then repeat the process the next weekend. Obviously this is just annecdotal, IANAD, YMMV, etc - take it with the requisite grain of salt. Still, I've heard enough stories like that to feel that some sort of investigation into over-medication is warranted.

Re: I'm for an investigation, not a lawsuit (4.50 / 2) (#11)
by Crutcher on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:48:10 AM EST

>There's also a much bigger issue, namely the question of who to sue:
  • the company which produces and aggresively advertises to the 'right' people a useful drug which some people misuse?
    Crutcher - "Elegant, Documented, On Time. Pick Two"
    [ Parent ]
  • Re: I'm for an investigation, not a lawsuit (4.50 / 2) (#41)
    by adamsc on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 02:49:19 PM EST

    Quite true. Of course, where do you put the line between agressively selling your product to ensure that doctors will know about it and prescribe it to people who need it and encouraging doctors to prescribe unneeded medication? The first is accepted business practice, the second is probably criminal. How is a jury supposed to decide which practice a company engaged in?

    I'm inclined to say they should go after the companies which advertise medicines directly to consumers using splashy TV ads, since that's lead to many cases of people demanding something their doctor knows they don't need. To my knowledge, this hasn't been done with Ritalin.

    [ Parent ]

    Lobotomy (2.75 / 12) (#4)
    by Qtmstr on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 11:43:04 PM EST

    While it's possible that Scruggs's opinion is correct, current research seems to point against it. ``My sense is that the symptoms of insanity are pretty well defined and there are a number of clinical criteria required before a child is allowed to undergo the procedure,'' Merrill Lynch analyst James Culverwell said from London. ``When the child does have a lobotomy, it is generally remarkably effective. So any suggestion that this illness is make-believe seems highly unlikely,'' he said.


    Kuro5hin delenda est!
    Umm, does the word Intro mean anything? (1.50 / 12) (#5)
    by shonson on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:14:52 AM EST

    Someone doesn't seem to know how to write a Intro :P
    -- Steven in #kuro5hin
    Re: Umm, does the word Intro mean anything? (1.00 / 5) (#13)
    by PresJPolk on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:51:20 AM EST

    Dear Glass House resident:

    Shouldn't that have been an editorial comment, not a topical one?

    signed,

    Curious in California

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Umm, does the word Intro mean anything? (1.00 / 2) (#20)
    by shonson on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:01:10 AM EST

    That it should have, I thought I had it in Editorial mode.
    -- Steven in #kuro5hin
    [ Parent ]
    (2.60 / 15) (#6)
    by TheDude on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:21:05 AM EST

    Ninety percent of all Ritalin is sold in the United States. We think it's a pretty tough case to say that ADHD is a disease that doesn't exist in Europe, but exists here.''

    I've said it before. The USA government is trying to make all its citizens so worried about everything, they're even making us worry about non-existant "diseases". We're feeding tons of pills to ourselves, our children, our pets. Shit! Pets getting medicated like hell. People are so ready to fix their problems with pills. No one fixes their own problems nowadays. They take what the government tells them will make them feel better. (All drugs have to be government-approved.) Eventually, the US government is going to have complete control over this country of zombies. If they don't already.

    --
    TheDude of Smokedot
    Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
    Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

    Re: (non-existant diseases) (4.40 / 5) (#10)
    by warpeightbot on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:46:21 AM EST

    I've said it before. The USA government is trying to make all its citizens so worried about everything, they're even making us worry about non-existant "diseases". We're feeding tons of pills to ourselves, our children, our pets. Shit! Pets getting medicated like hell. People are so ready to fix their problems with pills. No one fixes their own problems nowadays. They take what the government tells them will make them feel better. (All drugs have to be government-approved.) Eventually, the US government is going to have complete control over this country of zombies. If they don't already.
    Ritalin is a drug that makes smart people stupid. Why is it needed? Because:
    • today's public schools aren't equipped to handle smart kids, and hold their interest, only average ones. The smart ones get bored, and proceed to act up. Now they need Ritalin, to dumb them back down to the lowest common denominator, so that the teacher, a product of this system, can handle them.
    • It is the smart kids who will eventually discover that the Emperor Has No Clothes, and scream it to high heaven, causing this whole house of cards to tumble in a heap. Doubleplusungood.
    Attention geeks: Breed. And when you breed, get your kids into private or home schooling. It is the generation you are raising right this second who will determine whether society continues the current tailspin into oblivion, or, with a lot of hard work and a little luck, actually survives a significant distance into the new millenium, some three and one half months away.

    Good luck. Yer gonna need it.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: (non-existant diseases) (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by TheDude on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:19:35 AM EST

    today's public schools aren't equipped to handle smart kids, and hold their interest, only average ones.

    I agree with you here. Public schools don't teach. They're the problem, not the kids. Ritalin won't solve the problems with public schools. It's just a drug given to kids who don't fit into the system for one reason or another. It doesn't help them learn more, it helps them learn what the system is there to teach.

    It is the generation you are raising right this second who will determine whether society continues the current tailspin into oblivion, or, with a lot of hard work and a little luck, actually survives a significant distance into the new millenium, some three and one half months away.

    It's the teenagers now who will end up controlling the US (and probably the world, if things keep going as they are now) soon. They're the kids of the baby-boomers. There's a huge number of them. They'll eventually out-vote out-number (and over-throw?) what our parents (the baby-boomers) did. We (people born between 64-79, I iirc) kinda get lost in the shuffle here. The kids getting drugged up on Ritalin, in our schools now, getting taught the same massacre of history, literature, grammar, English, etc.; these are the people who will run the world one day. What is the government doing to them?

    --
    TheDude of Smokedot
    Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
    Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

    [ Parent ]
    Culture of blame (2.00 / 1) (#34)
    by spiralx on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 09:46:47 AM EST

    This isn't meant as flamebait, but it does seem that America is moving towards a "culture of blame" in which it becomes more acceptable to look for a scapegoat for problems rather than accept responsibility and attempt to work towards a solution. Hence the proliferation of things like therapy and diseases such as ADHD.

    It's far easier to dismiss the problem as a medical condition which can be treated with chemicals, or as a psychological one which can be treated with therapy than it is to deal with the root causes yourself. Unfortunately, in most cases, dealing with it properly is the only way to avoid negative long-term consequences.


    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Culture of blame (1.00 / 1) (#38)
    by sugarman on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 11:42:59 AM EST

    "Moving toward?"

    Dammit, the ship has sailed, landed, disemabarked, and planted the flag.

    The same attitude which has created a lawsuit mentality has pervaded the rest of the society as well. Stick a fork in it, it is *done*.
    --sugarman--
    [ Parent ]

    Re: (drugs and society) (3.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Grum on Mon Oct 02, 2000 at 10:52:39 AM EST

    Eventually, the US government is going to have complete control over this country of zombies. If they don't already.

    --
    TheDude of Smokedot
    Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
    Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

    Okay, does anyone else find it the least bit funny that TheDude makes a rant about drugs and a country of zombies, and he seems to be a big proponent of marijuana use?
    Hey, I'm all for legalization too, but the .sig seems to undermine your statement, that's all.

    [ Parent ]
    'Bout Time. (4.05 / 18) (#7)
    by Crutcher on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:36:59 AM EST

    I spent a good chunk of time on, and off of Ritalin. Since then, I have done my homework, and talked quite a few people about it.

    This is what I can tell you that I know:
    ADHD does, in fact exist. It is caused by a section of the brain which controlls behaviour being under-developed/active. And it so happens that Ritalin stimulates this bit more than it stimulates other bits; so you take an upper, but you calm down. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO CANNOT FUNCTION AT ALL WITH OUT IT. I have met some, they could'nt get /dressed/ without it. However, it is /still/ a stimulant, and has all the other long term effects that stims have on psychology/neurology. Like getting sketchy.

    This is what I can tell you that I think:
    The drug works. It's so obvious that it works, that many people don't wonder why it works, and just think of it as a magic bullet. People like school counselors, who tell parents that they should look at ADHD. Now let me tell you, if the kid can play a board game, a sport, walk to the store for milk, or read /anything/ of length, the kid DONT have ADHD. But they still get prescribed it anyway, cause no one cares if they have ADHD, they care if they talk in class or 'act out', and ritalin is pretty good at stoping that.

    And this is the fun bit:
    The withdrawl symptoms of Ritalin (and you better damn well believe their is a withdrawl period, a LONG one) look EXACTLY like ADHD. So you can't take a 'drug holiday' and see the kid doesn't need the pills, as the kid will sure as hell LOOK like he needs the pills.

    Warning:
    Ritalin taken by those without ADHD will fsck up your emotions HARD. It will make them change slooowly, and make you a bit autistic. It just so happens that the 'fast' emotions are the upbeat ones, and this is why many children on ritalin slowly become more depressed and sometimes violent. Don't do it to your kid unless your kid is ASKING you to, as then it's probably bad enough. (Unless the kid's the type to sell the pills)
    Crutcher - "Elegant, Documented, On Time. Pick Two"
    Stimulants and ADD (2.72 / 11) (#9)
    by linuxonceleron on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:41:56 AM EST

    I'm 15 and I have what would probably be described as a mild case of ADD. I was never put on any medication either as a child or teenager, but I doubt it would have helped much anyways. Recently I noticed that having a cup of coffee in the morning will help me focus much better through the day's morning classes. I'm not sure if the caffeine is simply speeding up my mind/body or if it's helping me focus better. I don't really get a 'buzz' off of caffeine like some people say they do, it feels more mellow unless I have a *lot*, which is a bit odd. Has anyone else experienced such effects from other stimulants?
    I'm working on an AIM bot @ http://trisomy21.dhs.org
    Re: Stimulants and ADD (2.00 / 2) (#14)
    by hepatitis_bee on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:51:58 AM EST

    coffe can make me sleepy at times. But in general caffeine doesn't seem to affect me, i'm in college and have an espresso maker and can drink a fresh double latte 10 minutes before i go to bed, it doesn't really make me sleepy, but i have an easier time getting to sleep

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Stimulants and ADD (3.25 / 4) (#22)
    by fluffy grue on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:02:52 AM EST

    When I was in second grade 15 years ago, one of my fellow students in my class had ADHD. This was pre-Ritalin, and this kid took caffeine. Caffeine made him not as high-strung. Apparently Ritalin is a stimulant for non-ADHD people - that is, both Ritalin and caffeine have the opposite effect in ADHD people than it does in non-ADHD. You're probably experiencing that.
    --
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Stimulants and ADD (1.66 / 3) (#24)
    by mattdm on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:16:08 AM EST

    Yes, that is extremely typical for ADD-type people. Caffeine basically has the same effect as ritalin -- they're both stimulants. Most non-ADD people would work better if they were given ritalin every morning, just as many people drink coffee to get their day started.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Stimulants and ADD (2.66 / 3) (#27)
    by wookie on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 02:13:32 AM EST

    My wife had the same experience. She still drinks coffee everyday. At first I had a hard time understanding how a stimulant could relax someone. She explained it in a way which made some sense. If you add nitros to an engine running at redline, you are going to blow it out. Coffee basically does the same thing.

    (Maybe someone could give a good biochemical explanation).

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Stimulants and ADD (3.33 / 3) (#49)
    by adamsc on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 07:04:26 PM EST

    A more accurate response might simply involve finding out what parts of the brain are stimulated by what you're ingesting (e.g. notice how most of those energy drinks have a more than just caffeine?). I'm sure most people here have heard how alcohol is depressive but the first part it depresses is basically a governor which depresses the rest of the brain, which means that it initially has a stimulant effect.

    I've noticed similar effects to what your wife describes. I don't get a buzz from caffeine unless I've had very large doses. This would fit with some sort of model where it initially is countered by or counters some internal influence.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Stimulants and ADD (2.00 / 3) (#35)
    by Elendale on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 10:19:27 AM EST

    I know what you mean completely. I was diagnosed (sp?) with ADD a few years back while being treated for depression. Now i personally think that was a poor description (i would be hard pressed to bounce off the walls- not much interested me) and is another example of ADD&co. being over-exaggerated in most children, however i too do not get a 'buzz' on caffeine unless i down a 6-pack of Coke or something similar. It does help me stay awake, but it doesn't make my hyper. I have noticed this tendency in a few other people also.

    -Elendale (blah)
    ---

    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


    [ Parent ]
    Re: Stimulants and ADD (2.33 / 3) (#43)
    by oleandrin on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 05:24:39 PM EST

    [opens 3rd mountain dew of the day]

    I know for a fact I can't work without some sort of stimulant (usually in the form of soda). Without it, my 'work day' is just a series of "say, I wonder what's on [insert random site] today?" interrupted by brief attempts at working. The caffeine lets me keep myself focused on the code...

    [finishes 3rd mountain dew of the day]

    j.

    [ Parent ]

    I seem to believe that ADHD can be a legit disease (2.53 / 13) (#12)
    by hepatitis_bee on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:49:34 AM EST

    But it is used as an excuse way too much. Too many irresponsible parents can't control their kids, and instead of taking responsibility they blame it on some disease which for the most part doesn't exist, so of course the doctor tells the parents what they want to hear, and the kid gets a happy pill and everything is alright.

    Re: I seem to believe that ADHD can be a legit dis (2.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Anonymous Hero on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:09:06 AM EST

    I think this is part of a greater trend that I'm
    noticing, particularly in the United States, that our
    instant reaction to even the most minor of problems with
    our bodies/minds is to go to the doctor and get ourselvs
    a prescription. It's very much part a the quick-fix
    mentality that I mostly percieve as starting in the 80s,
    and in many ways it's become an accepted way of dealing
    with our problems.

    Airline travel makes you nervous? Just go get yourself
    some Ativan. Balding? We got Propecia for that.
    Impotent? Quietly go get some Viagra. Just can't loose
    that weight? Just get some spee.. er.. Meridia.
    Having trouble understanding your child's behavior?
    Just get them on some Ritalin.

    That's not to say that I don't believe there are
    legitimate uses for the drugs listed above, but I
    believe we are all too quick to accept them as the
    first and only answer to a large amount of our problems.

    When I was 15 I was diagnosed with ADHD and was given
    a Ritalin prescription, which I very quickly threw
    away. I felt that I didn't need a prescription to solve
    what I considered to be a lack of self-control and a lack
    of unquestioning respect for authority. At that point in
    time I just didn't _want_ to institute that in my life,
    I didn't see the point, and I think that's fine -- all
    of us aren't supposed to fit into "the norm." However,
    I learned (very much the hard way) that there are trade-offs
    to making that decision and eventually you either isolate
    yourself from the world or you go about making the nessicary
    changes in your attitude and outlook.

    I felt the same way then that I do now: Drugs are for
    terminally ill patients and those of us who have "serious"
    illnesses that our beyond our control, for example, my
    schizophrenic uncle and my cancerous grandmother. The rest
    of us need to learn how to solve the problems (yea, that
    requires hard work) in our lives instead of instantly
    prescribing them away at the doctors office.

    [ Parent ]
    BC (4.16 / 18) (#15)
    by FFFish on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:52:55 AM EST

    IIRC, the prescription rate in British Columbia is under 1%. This is a third the rate in the USA.

    IMO, the fault is not as cut-and-dried as it was with the tobacco companies. There was plenty of documentation that showed the tobacco companies were explicitly targeting children in their advertising and were deliberately fudging research results.

    The drug companies haven't been targeting the consumer, let alone children. Their test data isn't likely to be fudged: they can't afford to get into a lawsuit -- look at what happened with DOW's silicon breasts (which, in the end, turned out to *not* be the problem!).

    What the drug companies do do is target the doctors. Your average general practitioner is freaking swamped with problems that he has only the most tenuous understanding of. It's not just kids with pox anymore!

    In ye olde days, the GP didn't have to do a real accurate diagnosis. Cancer was cancer: you were gonna die. Joint pain was arthritis: you'd just have to suffer. Depression was just the blues: you'd either suicide or get through it.

    Anyway, point is that doctors are woefully underinformed, and drug companies are "educating" them.

    Next problem is that parents have just gotten criminally lazy. In this thrust for individuality, they don't much care to spend the time to teach their kids self-control... and when a kid is even a little more rambunctious than average, well, hell, who wants to spend the time ensuring the kid's environment works for him?

    So parents are looking to get instant fixes in the form of a pill. Here, Johnny, pop a blue pill and get out of Mommy's hair.

    Teachers are struggling hard to present a curriculum that includes three times as much material as it did twenty years ago, and haven't the support of the above-mentioned lazy parents. So they, too, are looking for a quick fix.

    =====

    I suppose I should come around to expressing some sort of point or opinion here, so I will:

    The drug companies aren't responsible for the popularity of Ritalin. They invented it and they promoted it, but they didn't brainwash the children or the public.

    The doctors are responsible for over-prescribing Ritalin. It doesn't get out without their say-so, and they've been saying-so a lot.

    The parents are responsible for having their kids on Ritalin. They don't care to get educated, and they don't care to investigate causative factors like food allergies, environmental control or providing more activities for their kid.

    I think if anyone deserves a slap upside the heads, it's the parents. Who can then pass it on to their GP.


    AD(H)D (3.10 / 10) (#16)
    by mattdm on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:55:05 AM EST

    Like most bits of human psychology, it's not a simple matter of black and white. There exists a continuum -- on one end, you've got extreme ADHD, and on the other, you've got obsessive-compulsive disorder (or something like that -- hyperorganization/compartmentalization). And, like most such things, there's a standard curve, with most people being in between somewhere.

    The thing is, our society is structured in a way that is biased against the AD(H)D side of the scale. In order to be able to function, you have to be able to, as an earlier poster said, tie your shoes properly. You've got to meet deadlines, finish what you've started, keep your house in order. You've got to listen to people even when they're boring, and you've got to go to bed instead of surfing the internet all night. You've got to color within the lines, and all your crayon-marks should go the same direction.

    Ritalin and related drugs shift your personality to a different place on that scale. As someone else explained, the part of your brain that makes you into a nice cog in the machinary isn't quite working up to snuff, so it needs to be accelerated a bit. And look! The drugs work! Better members of society!



    Re: AD(H)D (4.00 / 2) (#37)
    by bNNy on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 11:11:17 AM EST

    Yeah, I took ritalin during most of high school and it definitely changed my personality. It made me cranky and prone to mood swings. I also had trouble sleeping which no doubt contributed to this. Granted, I got better grades and probably learned a lot more(I failed algebra the first time I took it, after taking ritalin I got an A), but I'd have to say the general effect of the drug was like having someone over my shoulder constantly saying 'do this' every time my thoughts wandered. I think this constant pressure you feel has some sort of negative psychological impact. I just learned to reign my attention span in myself. It helps to block out as much external stimuli as possible. I know exactly jack shit about neurochemistry, but the doctors will always tell you that there is some sort of chemical missing in people with ADD that ritalin provides, but I get the feeling this is bullshit. I think anyone would have a higher degree of concentration after taking ritalin. It's just an amphetamine.

    [ Parent ]
    South Park (2.66 / 12) (#17)
    by Colin Winters on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:57:20 AM EST

    Doesn't this remind anyone else of the Timmy 2000 episode of south park? the kids can't pay attention when a doctor reads "The Great Gatsby" to them, so it's ridalin for them all! I agree that ridalin is necessary in some cases, but I think most kids don't need it-they just like to run around. That's what being a kid is all about-running around outdoors, doing things. I think part of the problem is parents expect kids to sit and watch tv and be entertained, when the kids want to go outside and play, and get hyperactive in the house. I know kids that I swear are ADHD, but after running around with them outside, they're fine. It's just that sitting in front of the computer/Tv doesn't let kids use their pentup energy, and now medicine is being prescribed instead. Just my 2 cents. Colin Winters

    I took ritalin (4.23 / 21) (#18)
    by wildmage on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:57:23 AM EST

    I grew up with ritalin back in the days when no one even heard of ADHD (it was called ADD back then).

    My grandparents were firmly against it, but my parents were running out of options. I did crazy things like color the walls, run around the house at night, and take the christmas decorations down and put them neatly on the floor. Not to mention, I couldn't sit still for more than 10 seconds.

    They took me to a child psychiatrist, and after a couple years of visits and group therapy sessions with other "troubled" children (ages 7-9), they decided that I'd be a candidate to use ritalin.

    In first grade, they separated us kids into 4 different reading groups depending on our level of ability. I was the lowest reading level. The first day I received my ritalin medication, I jumped from the lowest reading group to the highest reading group.

    Now, I'm not saying it made me smarter, but it made me capable of performing and focusing on what I already knew.

    Ritalin is a really temporary drug. You take a dosage every day, and the effects last only a couple hours. So when you get home from school, your back to bouncing off the walls.

    I stopped taking ritalin my freshmen year in high school, mostly because your body chemistry changes, and it no longer has the same effect on you. I ended up switching to a long-term effect anti-depressant drug, which has done wonders in restoring confidence, focus, and purpose in my life. I still take it today.

    When it comes to the controversy of prescribing ritalin, I think its really a philosophy war. Do you change the child or do you change society? I agree; we're probably very sick as a society, if our children can't grow up as they are and still be "productive members of society." But I don't really know how to accomodate these malconformants. If I hadn't gone on drugs, I'd probably be working at McDonald's right about now instead of preparing to enter my Senior year of college. Actually there's probably a good chance I would be in jail about now too. Of course this is all speculation.

    This whole sickness of society idea was wonderfully addressed by Ted Kaczynski in his famous Unabomber Manifesto. The most important points regarding this are the lack of the power process and the surrogate activities we replace them with. This basically means, that we no longer feel like we're providing for our survival, and we replace that need with hobbies like Computer Science :)

    So in our current society, we have these requirements that you be a productive member of society, or else you don't fit in very well. See Fight Club for related info.

    But the truth of the matter is, I don't think I'd willingly give up my computers and my dreams of going into space. That said, I don't think I'd want to give up my drugs either. If I did, I'd have to face a road I have a good feeling there's no positive end to.

    wildmage

    -------------
    Jacob Everist
    Memoirs of a Mad Scientist
    Near-Earth Asteroid Mining

    Re: I took ritalin (3.66 / 3) (#23)
    by mattdm on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:09:45 AM EST

    This is a small point but: ADD and ADHD are two different things both recognized today. The "H" is for hyperactivity. A lot of people don't have the bouncing off walls problem but fit the entire other list of traits (and so still get the same drugs).

    [ Parent ]
    Re: I took ritalin (3.33 / 3) (#32)
    by Davidicus on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:53:20 AM EST

    actually, as of the DSM-IV, there is no such thing as ADD any more. There is ADHD primarially inattentive, ADHD primarily hyperactive and ADHD combined types. (also there is no such thing as MPD anymore, its "Associative Identity Disorder")

    [ Parent ]
    Re: I took ritalin (2.00 / 1) (#33)
    by mattdm on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 09:18:40 AM EST

    Huh, lookit that. ADHD/IA seems really silly: "Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Without the Hyperactivity".

    [ Parent ]
    Re: I took ritalin (4.00 / 1) (#46)
    by PresJPolk on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 02:17:08 AM EST

    But the truth of the matter is, I don't think I'd willingly give up my computers and my dreams of going into space. That said, I don't think I'd want to give up my drugs either. If I did, I'd have to face a road I have a good feeling there's no positive end to.

    You like the effects that drugs have had on you. That's fine, and I'm happy for you.

    However, I have a problem with society assuming at anyone who is different is necessarily sick. Especially in modern society, where so many things make so little sense. With all the idiocy that goes on in our (American) society, our so-called toxic culture, it can be argued that the people who don't fit in are the "sane" ones, and the people that do are the ones that need help.

    Nobody really knows how the human brain works. We can guess, and we can notice correlations between different chemicals and changes in behavior. But, if we knew how the brain worked, we'd be building AI systems that copied the brain perfectly, wouldn't we?

    So let people criticize ADHD diagnosis and treatment. If it's all true, then inquiring further won't hurt, will it?

    By the way, I don't agree with all the beliefs espoused by Tikkun Magazine, especially the socialist ones. I partially agree with their criticisms of American culture, though. that's why I link to them here.



    [ Parent ]
    Horses & barn doors.... (2.50 / 4) (#19)
    by kmself on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:59:37 AM EST

    As has been pointed out (in a topical comment), this story should have had a brief introduction, not the long extended one it's got.

    --
    Karsten M. Self
    SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
    Support the EFF!!
    There is no K5 cabal.

    Re: Tobacco Lawyers now looking at Ritalin (4.31 / 16) (#21)
    by sec on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:02:36 AM EST

    A number of comments:

    I don't think the AIDS analogy is a very good one. AIDS is a definite disease, with a (reasonably) definite causative agent, and it has definite negative consequences. ADHD, on the other hand, has no real causative agent, and nobody has convinced me yet that it is a real problem, rather than a case of the children in question not conforming to the narrow expectations of society.

    It may well be that there is something about American culture that produces a disease like this. In that case, I suspect that treating this 'disease' with drugs is at best a band-aid solution.

    Second point: Why do you quote an analyst from an investment firm as an authority on a medical condition? Is it just me, or does this make no sense whatsoever?

    My thoughts on the situation as a whole: I think that Ritalin has indeed been overperscribed, by a large margin. However, I think that this lawsuit is considerably off the mark.

    Kids will be kids. If you can't handle that, then you shouldn't be having them. Drugging them into a stupor so that they'll conform to your expectations of how they should behave is definitely not a good thing, in my books. Rather than being a villian here, I think that the manufacturer of Ritalin is merely highlighting a rather sordid aspect of society.

    A flawed premise (2.75 / 8) (#25)
    by benton on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:16:49 AM EST

    The author's premise is flawed. AIDS is cause by a virus that is passed by body fluid contact. Indeed, tbe cultural enviroment has a share in how the virus is passed from person to person, but it is an organic disease with a definable cause. ADHD, on the other hand, seems to be a label that is applied to children that are seen as difficult, and Ritalin is the .us cultural response to that difficulty. I know several people that have been helped by Ritalin, as well as people that have been helped by other various and sundry psycoactives. I also know a lot more people who have been given lots of such things without it seems good cause.
    -- benton -- bentonsmith@mediaone.net
    Ritalin Nation (4.00 / 11) (#28)
    by galois on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 02:32:36 AM EST

    There is an interesting book about the (over) medication of the US with ritalin called "Ritalin Nation," by Richard DeGrandpre. DeGrandpre claims the the US of overmedicating with ritalin for cultural reasons.

    There is a good synopsis of it here. The best review, albiet a critcal one, is by the England Journal of Medicine.

    It is a very interesting and though provoking book on the subject

    AIDS and Africa (2.22 / 9) (#29)
    by Yzorderex on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 04:54:13 AM EST

    WHO, in their medical wisdom, estimates AIDS cases in Africa differently than in other places.
    The rest of the world basically counts T-cells. In Africa any degenerative disease that kinda sorta maybe looks like it could have been cause by AIDS get included in. So TB becomes AIDS whether HIV played a part or not.
    So Africa is over reported.

    I've been on ritalin since I was 7. (4.00 / 12) (#30)
    by vwswing on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 06:18:51 AM EST

    My father was prescribed with the generic, bs 1960s crazy term "dementia praecox" and they said he was hopeless.. when he got to the army they labeled him as add, and put him on ritalin.. which he used until he learned to control his focus.. ritalin isn't just an inhibitor it's a tool. They called me a "problem child" and put me in group therapy as a child.. not my parents, but shrinks in preschool.. Finally after a few doctors & a lot of crap, they put me on it.. We experimented with a few different drugs. I forget the names .. Either way, Ritalin finally did the trick.. It took a while to get the dosage right.. Definately not a placebo.. too much and I'd be a zombie, too little and I couldn't focus.. After I got 16 I'd stop taking it for about 6 months.. then go back on.. then maybe stop for 3 months.. It's just a long process of learning how to focus.. the ritalin helps you will your eyes towards the paper .. I haven't taken it in about 6 months, because as a sysadmin focusing on one thing for too long means I'm neglecting my job :// but I'm about to try it again and see what it's effects are now that i've gotten better @ focusing (I can sit down and read some tech books chapter by chapter instead of just jumping around and finding little bits of information). I'm so tired of the litigious society we live in. You don't like your wife, sue. You don't like your job, sue. Your male/female/black/white/hispanic/purple/pokadoted/dinosaur makes more money than you, sue.. Whatever happened to working hard for what you make? Is sueing people for $$ considered "working hard" ?

    Undecided (3.60 / 5) (#36)
    by Joshua on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 10:53:06 AM EST

    I am a bit undecided on this issue. When I was very young (10 maybe?), I was diagnosed with ADD and put on Ritalin. I took it for many years, and actually, I do think it had an effect. It helped me focus, and concentrate. However, I think my lack of focus is totally a cultural trait, and influenced by such things as television (which I watched in copious quantities in my youth). I eventually gave up Ritalin because I wasn't in school, and I resented it a bit. I have, however, considered going back on it, for the usefulness of concentrating easily.

    However though, I don't think AD(H)D is a sickness, I don't think it's a disorder. I just think it's a different kind of person. Some people have long attention spans, some short. Some have quiet demeanors, some energetic and loud. Drugs can change this, but I am undecided whether they should or not.

    Joshua

    about as grey as it gets... (3.00 / 5) (#39)
    by Rasputin on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 12:00:17 PM EST

    I have an 8 year old son that was recently diagnosed as ADHD. Interestingly, while discussing this with the Dr., he suggested that much of what I described from my childhood indicated I may have been an undiagnosed ADHD child. As a data point, it begs for some look into a genetic predisposition, since the environment I grew up in (middle class factory city) is wildly different from my son's environment, moving that down the scale of likely contributors.
    The treatment plan for my son is actually a diet change and a large amount of work from myself and my wife. We have to devote the majority of our non-work time to the kid, but it seems to be helping. I am not suggesting this is the appropriate choice for all diagnosed ADHD children, but it is an option that needs to be considered in a lot more cases. The teachers were strongly in favor of "drugging him into submission" because he was a fairly disruptive influence, and at one point threatened to remove him from the classroom if he didn't get a ritalin prescription. The Dr. was actually quite willing to discuss alternatives, and suggested ritalin may not be the best choice for him IF we were willing to invest the time and effort the other methods required.
    I don't doubt that ADHD is a genuine illness. Its important to remember, however, that we still don't really understand much about what's going on in a human brain beyond where the electical activity occurs associated with specific activities. There are undoubtedly cases where stimulants (such as Ritalin) are appropriate. There are also cases where drugs are used inappropriately (I suspect this is the majority). The reason for the over-prescribing is society, not the drug companies. Parents and educators push for a chemical solution and the Dr.'s follow along, although there are at least a few who won't blindly write a ritalin prescription because the parent asks for it.
    Even if you win the rat race, you're still a rat.
    I tought I had ADHD (4.50 / 8) (#40)
    by The_Dude on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:39:10 PM EST

    From about 3rd grade until I stopped going to college about a year ago, I almost never did my homework. Always got that "he's such a bright kid, but he doesn't apply himself." About halfway through high school, my parents took me to some testing center to see if I had ADHD. Unfortunately, to my dismay, it just turns out I'm lazy. Oh well... no ritalin for me.

    Uh-oh: (Was: Re: I tought I had ADHD) (1.50 / 2) (#45)
    by TheDude on Wed Sep 20, 2000 at 04:16:27 AM EST

    Someone found out I already had his name? Heh. Sorry, man.

    I saw the comment and thought, I don't remember posting that.... Then I noticed that I didn't post that. Sorry for the useless drivel, but that was odd.

    --
    TheDude of Smokedot
    Drug Info, Rights, Laws, and Discussion
    Visit #smokedot on irc.smokedot.org

    [ Parent ]
    Tobacco lawyers are running out of windmills? (4.00 / 7) (#42)
    by fossilcode on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 04:28:46 PM EST

    I'm in my 40's and have been taking Ritalin for about 6 years. After my child was determined to have ADHD, I looked carefully at the evaluation criteria and came to a slow realization that I probably did too. I went to a different physician and had the evaluation and he concurred. You see, part of the problem isn't necessarily one of overprescribing in the U.S. as it is one of underdiagnosing worldwide. Admittedly, in less pressured, lest techincal cultures the symptoms may not be as apparent.

    I've been programming professionally for over 20 years. My problem was that I couldn't seem to get promoted, despite my managers recognizing that I had what they termed "superb talent". The recurring theme in performance appraisals was "lacks focus" and "easily distracted".

    Since I started on Ritalin, my job performance improved to the point where I now run a successful software consulting business.

    Think what you want. For those of you without the disorder, it's easy to doubt. Of course there are cases where Ritalin is prescribed when it isn't needed, but I'm walking proof that the disorder exists, and that Ritalin works.
    --
    "...half the world blows and half the world sucks." Uh, which half were you again?
    ADHD vs AIDS (3.50 / 4) (#44)
    by cyrii on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 09:31:54 PM EST

    ...isn't that the same as saying that since Africa has the vast majority of AIDS cases in the world, that it's unlikely that AIDS actually exists because most of the cases are in Africa?

    Not really, since ADHD is a syndrome, and AIDS is an infectious disease. The two proliferate in completely different ways. Since AIDS is an infection, it needs to be transferred from one host to another. A syndrome, however, develops on its own, doesn't need to be transferred from one host to another, and therefore should be evenly distributed in different geographic areas (assuming similar cultural backgrounds, and I think european culture is sufficiently similar to american culture to guess that there would be a similiar distribution of the syndrome, if in fact it exists).

    ADHD distribution US vs. Europe (1.00 / 2) (#47)
    by Bernie Fsckinner on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:28:30 AM EST

    The reason the US has so many cases of ADHD - it's hereditary, and the europeans encouraged all the hyperactive inattentive subjects to emigrate to the US.

    The lawyers are Scientologists (1.50 / 2) (#50)
    by David Gerard on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 12:31:12 AM EST

    and so, since Ritalin is pushed by the psychiatric conspiracy, it must be inherently Evil.

    Religious motivations aren't sufficient for a class action. They lost against Prozac, they'll lose against Ritalin.

    ADHD sucks (none / 0) (#52)
    by wendall911 on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 03:19:22 AM EST

    Interestingly enough, I just talked to a girl the other day that told me a little story. Not exactly about ADHD, but strangely similar.

    Since birth, doctors told my friend that her son had everything from Down Syndrome to Mental Retardation to Color Blind to The Disease of The Week. These diagnosis were based on the fact that he favored his left hand from birth and had a fascination with the color green.

    Finally, as it turns out, she brought her son, now 11 mos. to a first class pediatrics hospital. They say that her son is exceptionally advanced and they rarely see babies as healthy(mentally and physically). If you saw him I'm sure you would agree. His only problem is that he is a bit more mature than what the books say he should be at his age.

    At ADHD age (however old that will be), because he is advancing just a bit faster than the norm, I am sure every school administrator will be screaming to get him on something because he just won't pay attention to their crap...and had she not learned already, he would be Ritalin bound.

    I don't mean any disrespect to anyone who really thinks Ritalin is the f***ing holy grail. Whatever floats your boat. Ever think about just spending some time with your kids. I know...the server went down and you had to stay late...yadda yadda yadda(every day for two years).

    I almost laughed out loud when I saw a ADHD meeting at my local natural foods store when I noticed no one had their kids with them. What the F**K. Go home! Learn snowboarding with your kids... baseball... rock climbing... C++ (lol)... anything.

    Drug-Free America:
    Age 0-4 (Amoxicilin)
    Age 4-12 (Ritalin)
    Age 12-18 (Appetite Suppressants)
    Age 18-24 (No-Doz)
    Age 24-38 (Prozac)
    Age 38-65 (Zantac)
    Age 65-- (Everything Else)

    wendall911
    remove my account
    ADD/ADHD and drug use (1.00 / 1) (#53)
    by tolldog on Wed Oct 04, 2000 at 06:22:25 PM EST

    I have mixed feelings about Ritalin (or the generic Adderall, which I take).

    I think that it has been over perscribed. I also think that it is valid. I also think that the
    public's understanding of ADD and ADHD is wrong. When I tell people I have ADD, they look
    shocked and say that I don't seem hyperactive. That is the difference between the two.
    ADD is a person lacks the drive to do something or the attention span to follow through. The ADHD person has the same problems but they may or may not be caused or even possible could be causing the hyperactivity that they have. (Kudos to you if you followed that last sentence.)

    I think that a class action suit because of Ritalin would be a mistake. If you suspect that your child doesn't need it, get a second opinion.



    -I Just program here, how am I supposed to know?
    Tobacco Lawyers now looking at Ritalin | 53 comments (53 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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