Ritalin How safe Is It?
My son has problems with focusing on doing anything, and I am sad to say, is last in class academically. He also has problems getting along with people. He is 14. He is very self conscious and does not know how to start a conversation. We are worried. We have heard of Ritalin but are not sure if it is safe. We read somewhere that it may impede growth and physical development (height). We think that perhaps with a better focus on things, his academic results will improve and along with that, his self confidence and ability to relate to people. Any suggestion will be good.
He is good at painting. He swims and plays basketball but does not excel at it though. He goes to painting lessons every week. We encourage him because that is his interest, but at the same time, we wondered how he could make a living from it some day. He has one or two good friends and they get along well, though they are not going to the same school. I feel that those who know about his academic performance somehow kept a distance from him. That's the way things are.
He recently came back from his 3-day graduation trip and was in tears when we picked him up. He said that he had been going solo those three days because his classmates didn't want him to be a part of their group. It was painful to hear that. Incidentally, my daughter is having the same problems academically and relationship wise. But she is on the other end... talking incessantly and sometimes off topic. I am beginning to feel that this is a curse of some sort.
Don't put your kid on any drugs, can lead to bad health problems and other problems down the road. We over medicate way too much. People don't realize it. Do the best for your child, no drugs. If he needs to be on drugs, it is very harmful long term, or may be, to keep him off.
My cousin is now 36. Many years ago, he was on Ritalin from 1st thru 6th grades and then he went off from 7th grade through junior year. He kept up grade-wise in 7th and 8th but then by the time he was a frosh everything blew up and he got in trouble with the law. His mother got remarried, and that can be a tough thing for kids now, and this was in 1988 or 1989.
He was put back on for senior year, too late to help his grades. He is smart but by that time his attitude was "out to lunch." He has been in and out of dead end jobs and he has done some minor time. He is married and divorced twice and has three kids. He is not a bad person at all. Very passive and will not get in a fist fight. It is just that he has self-medicated so much with mary jane that he is either stoned or wishing he was. He really loves his kids, and he wants to get it together. It has just been so hard. I think he needs rehab.
Ritalin is not the only option today. There are several drugs including one that it not a stimulant. But you need a diagnosis from a child psychiatrist- you should not just go to a GP and ask for ritalin. If you are against drugs period you can try Faingold diet, yoga, tai chi, mixed martial arts, art therapy, music therapy, talk therapy.
Is he good at anything, like guitar or painting? You may wish to encourage this. Is there someone he likes and can trust, like a pastor or a coach? Someone who is not a teacher? Maybe this person can help.
14 is kind of late. I think intervention is better much younger. But people with worse problems than this have turned things around. I wouldn't put him on medicine. Almost all medicine has side effects, and some can be very dangerous.
There may be alternatives to medicine, maybe therapy or something. You should talk to someone about other options. Medicine should be a last resort, and far to many people put children on medicine that could be helped without it and without the dangerousness. I agree that we over-medicate today. Popping a pill may be easier but not always best. I urge you to seek professional help for your son - start with the family doctor.
Alright so im 17. freshman year i believe it was i started Ritalin i moved up to Adderal because it wasn't strong enough for me but it definitely helps.....it will help your son be more social, confident, and better academically, he will most likely be motivated and interested in things but the negative effects are he may have a lose of appetite, and he may also lose sleep. but other that that the (common) short term effects are not to serious but long term effects may be worse....if i where you i would consider starting your son on it and just watch him and see how he does if he has any side effects or anything i would take him off of it immediately and try to find another alternative. Ritalin has a safer record than asprin. I have been on stimulant medication for 16 years and these people don't know what they are talking about. they are scare mongering. There is nothing wrong with popping a pill to make life livable. A 1999 adhd study showed that stimulant medication was the ONLY thing that had any impact on the adhd symptoms. Unmedicated adhd can turn dangerous for your child an increase in drug abuse has been reported in untreated adhd along with higher school dropout rates and higher unemployment.
Firstly it is true that Ritalin (methylphenidate) can reduce his growth but IF it happens it is only temporary. It has been proven than even if there is a slump in growth he WILL catch up and will grow to his full size (even if he would continue to take the medication). So that is not a long-term concern and most people grow perfectly normally but if they don't they will end up exactly as they should.
I highly recommend you get an appointment with a psychiatrist, ideally a child/adolescent psychiatrist. Also sometimes doctors may recommend vast amounts of testing (and typically it costs a small fortune). If that happens I would see another doctor. Every evidence based treatment guideline in the Anglophone and Francophone world I have read clearly states that tests are not needed, none are universally recognized, and that a perfectly accurate diagnosis can be made without testing (and I'm not taking about a short 15 question paper evaluation type of test).
There are a lot of treatments for ADHD, in The US the most prescribed medication is currently Adderall XR (mixed amphetamine salts extended-release). The use of extended-release and amphetamine medication is more common. So it is more likely something like Concerta (methylphenidate extended-release) would be prescribed than Ritalin would be.
And with an evaluation from a psychiatrist you may find that your son does not have any illness, or that he has something other than ADHD, or that he has multiple things (which often more common than not).
Certainly from what you describe it sounds like you son really does need an evaluation and if there is a problem there is a very good chance he can get better. It also sounds like you are great parents- concerned enough to consider that he may end up needing medication (some refuse to allow medication even when it is clearly needed) but not jumping at the chance to get your child on meds (some parents are like that when they don't need to be).
And Ritalin has been in use for something like 50-60 years and amphetamines are well over 100 years old. So these medications, which are the most effective ADHD treatments, are very old, and are among the most studied substances in history. They are old enough that the name for ADHD has changed about a dozen times and the indications for amphetamines and methylphenidate have changed many times. Every medication has some risk but stimulants are among the safest medications and are among the best studied in children and adolescents.