"I've got my son back through Narconon Drug Rehab!"
Kids on Drugs
It's hard to imagine your child using marijuana. But chances are, kids
today will be faced with, "Should I or shouldn't I?" Young people have
many stresses and the notion that "drugs will make you feel better" can
have a lot of appeal. Also, youth might see drugs as something to
experiment with or something that can help them fit in.
Research has shown that many parents today are ambivalent about drugs such
as marijuana. Some consider it to be relatively risk-free and are more
concerned about drugs such as cocaine or ecstasy. The wake-up call for
parents, however, is that marijuana is not a harmless drug. It's time to
teach your child that the answer to the marijuana question is, "I
shouldn't, and I won't."
Stimulant Drugs Prescribed Increasingly To Preschool Children.
Author: Maryann Napoli
The drugging of schoolchildren for behavioural and emotional problems
has been a scandal for at least two decades. Just when you thought things
couldn't get worse, a new report shows that the prescribing of psychiatric
drugs to children under the age of six has increased dramatically between
1991 and 1995. Here's one astounding statistic from the reports
introduction: 3,000 prescriptions for the antidepressant, Prozac, were
written in 1994 alone for infants younger than one year. This trend is
alarming because there is no evidence of safety or efficacy for any of
these drugs in children under age six.
The new report by Julie Magno Zito, PhD, University of Maryland, and
colleagues, is based on the records of over 200,000 children between the
ages of two and four who live in the Midwest and Eastern U.S. and were
enrolled in an HMO or one of two Medicaid programs (JAMA, 2/23/00). The
findings suggest that "1% to 1.5% of all children two to four years old
enrolled in these programs are receiving stimulants, antidepressants, or
antipsychotic medications," according to the editorial that accompanied
the report. The largest increases in prescriptions were shown for
stimulants, antidepressants, and the antihypertensive, clonidine (brand
name: Catapres). Stimulants purportedly have the reverse effect in
children. These drugs, most notably Ritalin, are primarily prescribed for
a condition that some experts believe is nonexistent: attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
To Peter R. Breggin, MD, the maverick psychiatrist and author of Talking
Back to Ritalin: What doctors aren't telling you about stimulant drugs,
"ADHD has one over-riding purpose--to put a medical veneer on the use of
medication to control the behaviour of children." According to the
American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders, a child has ADHD if he or she has six or more of the
following symptoms for six months: "often fidgets with hands or feet or
squirms in a seat; often leaves seat in classroom or in other situations
in which remaining seated is expected; often runs about or climbs
excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate; often has
difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly; often 'on
the go' or often acts as if 'driven by a motor;' often talks excessively;
often blurts out the answer before questions have been completed; often
has difficulty awaiting turn; often interrupts or intrudes on others." By
this diagnostic definition, virtually all preschoolers may be headed for
long-term drug therapy. Not surprisingly, boys are given 80% of the
prescriptions for stimulants.
According to Dr. Breggin, there are no objective diagnostic criteria for
ADHD, "no physical symptoms, no neurological signs, and no blood tests.
Despite claims to the contrary, there are no brain scan findings and no
biochemical imbalances. No physical tests can be done to verify that a
child has 'ADHD.'" Ritalin has been on the market for over 30 years, he
says, but no study has proved safety and efficacy beyond a few weeks.
The new report by Dr. Zito and colleagues notes that cardiovascular
adverse effects have been reported in young children taking clonidine in
combination with other medications. But the investigators did not explain
why doctors would prescribe antihypertension drugs to children.
Psychologist Dominick Riccio, PhD, of the International Center for the
Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, was asked for his opinion as someone
who has followed the field for years. "One possible explanation could be
that when Ritalin and other amphetamine-like drugs don't work and may even
cause the very symptoms they're purported to reduce, doctors add clonidine
or anti-anxiety drugs to treat the side effects of the Ritalin, such as
insomnia and nervousness," answered Dr. Riccio, in a telephone interview.
"Polypharmacy--that is, prescribing more than one drug--generally is bad
psychiatry because it is not clear what's having the 'therapeutic' effect
and you don't know what's causing the side effects when they occur."
According to an investigative series published by the Scripps Howard News
Service in 1997, Ritalin is not only a lucrative market for the
pharmaceutical companies but also for the school systems that claim
disabled students and for some parents who claim disabled children. The
series quoted Gene Haislip, retired deputy assistant administrator of the
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who warned, "We have become the
only country in the world where children are prescribed such a vast
quantity of stimulants that share virtually the same properties as
cocaine." The molecular makeup of cocaine is different from Ritalin, but
studies cited by the DEA show that Ritalin and cocaine produce nearly
identical reactions in the same brain cells.
Parents are typically misinformed by their physicians about the addiction
and abuse potential of Ritalin and other stimulants, according to Dr.
Breggin. He cites a fatality that occurred in 1995 in Roanoke, Virginia. A
group of teenagers at a party began snorting crushed Ritalin tablets,
which they presumed to be safe or the drug would not be prescribed to
young children. After drinking a few beers, a 19-year-old snorted Ritalin,
suffered cardiac arrest and died 18 hours later. As early as the 1960s,
many addicts were considering Ritalin the most highly addictive of all
stimulants, wrote Dr. Breggin. A study of more than 5,000 Californians
with ADHD conducted several years ago suggested that those who took
Ritalin were three times more likely to use cocaine in adulthood.
In Talking Back to Ritalin, Dr. Breggin gives parents detailed advice
about what to do when the teacher says your child must be put on stimulant
drugs or be placed in a "special class." Pay close attention to your
child's reading skills and enjoyment, he advises, "The vast majority of
academic problems in preschool and early elementary school children can be
corrected through improved reading skills."
Drugs, your child and the law
If your child is caught in possession of a controlled drug they have
committed a criminal offence. Many children and young people are
unclear about the law relating to drugs and the possible
consequences for them in later life. If your child is caught in
possession of a controlled drug they have committed a criminal
offence and this will be recorded by the police. The young person
could also be prevented from taking up certain jobs or professions,
and visiting other countries.
Drugs and the law
For a first offence, your child may receive a formal warning or a
formal caution. If they are between 10 and 17 years old and commit
further offences, including selling or smuggling drugs, they could
be charged and dealt with by a Youth Court.
It is worth remembering that as a parent you could also run the risk
of breaking the law in certain circumstances, simply by turning a
blind eye. If you know that your child is sharing illegal drugs with
a friend in your home and you do nothing to stop it, you may be
committing an offence. Knowingly allowing the smoking of cannabis in
your home is also an offence.
If you take illegal drugs from your child to try to stop them
committing an offence, you must either destroy the drugs or hand
them to the police as soon as possible. By having the drugs in your
possession you may also be committing an offence, even if you have
no intention of using them.
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