The Parent's Hyperactivity Handbook: Helping the Fidgety Child

By David M. Paltin | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

Medication and ADHD

Because medication has some potential for negative side effects but clear, short-term benefits, its use in the treatment of ADHD has always been surrounded by controversy. Finding medications such as Ritalin, dextroamphetamine, and Cylert in the midst of debate is not too surprising given the frequency with which these medications are used in the treatment of ADHD. Just by the numbers, psychostimulants have undoubtedly been the treatment of choice for most children with ADHD. A recent survey of primary care physicians revealed that 88 percent of their child patients diagnosed with hyperactivity and ADHD had received Ritalin as a form of treatment. 1 In a survey exploring the general increase in medication use during the 1970s and 1980s, researchers found that the rate of medication use for hyperactivity in public elementary school children in Baltimore County had increased from slightly over 1 percent in 1971 to slightly under 6 percent by 1987. 2 However, even with the social trend favoring the use of psychostimulant treatments, about 30 percent of children medicated in this manner do not respond to treatment, leaving some parents still searching for alternatives. 3,4

Apart from the numbers, parents, educators, and professionals are often concerned not only with the physical effects of long-term medication use but also with the psychological and emotional messages given to children in the use of pharmaco

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